ESPN: Ryan Madson's Changeup Is Amazing

The Cincinnati Reds, of course, signed Ryan Madson to a one-year contract worth $8.5 million. One year and $8.5 million is a lot lower than four years and $44 million, which is what Madson was rumored to be signing for back in November. You could say that the Ryan Madson household has gone through its own little microrecession. Or at least I think you could say that. I don't really get economics.

Something that's interesting about Madson is that he's right-handed. Wait, no, that isn't interesting at all. What's interesting is that Madson is right-handed and yet highly successful against left-handed hitters. Over the past three years, Madson's allowed a .622 OPS to righties, and a .624 OPS to lefties. What's been the key to Madson's platoon split avoidance?

Mark Simon has a theory:

Madson’s 2011 success was largely due to his holding left-handed hitters to a .198 opponents batting average and .506 opponents OPS, both of which rank among the best in baseball.

He did so with a changeup that was unlike almost any other pitch in the sport. Let’s take a closer look at this pitch.

[...]

  • Hitters missed on more than half their swings (52 percent, third-best among right-handers).
  • Hitters chased 62 percent of pitches out of the strike zone (the highest chase rate for a righty in baseball).
  • It was put in play less than 25 percent of the time (fourth-least among right-handed pitchers).

And there's more. Cole Hamels' changeup got a lot of love. It still gets a lot of love. It deserves to. It's really good. But a teammate of Hamels also threw an amazing changeup, and now he'll take it with him to Cincinnati, provided it doesn't get taken away from him in customs. I'm pretty sure Cincinnati is in Canada.

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