Finding the Best MLB Pitchers: Changeup Dominance


While a changeup is not always a pitcher’s go-to pitch, it’s often a vital piece in a starting pitcher’s repository. A changeup is an off-speed pitch (which means it has a lower velocity than a fastball), and its aim is deception – it’s relatively slow and can fool a batter into swinging before the ball gets to the plate. Adding to the deception is the fact that changeups are thrown with a similar motion as a fastball, which serves to trick the batter further.

Dominating With the Changeup

Let’s take a look at PITCHf/x data (wCH/C, weighted changeup runs per 100 pitches to be specific) for MLB pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched through Aug. 27, 2017, and see who dominates the changeup pitch.


This scatterplot compares dominance against the percentage of time a pitcher throws a changeup. The ideal location here is the upper left quadrant – it represents the pitchers who have had the best changeups and who use them frequently. Lefty starter for the Kansas City Royals Jason Vargas is well-known for the quality of his changeups, often relying on a changeup with a circle grip. While primarily making use of his fastball, teammate Danny Duffy also has a quality changeup in his arsenal. Carlos Carrasco and Gio González, of the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals respectively, also command a dominant changeup.

In the lower right quadrant, you’ll find pitchers who haven’t necessarily fared well with changeups, but they also don’t tend to use them very often. Mike Foltynewicz of the Atlanta Braves is one example – he uses his four-seam fastball most often but will utilize the changeup now and then. J.C. Ramírez is another example of a player who uses changeups very infrequently.

The upper right quadrant, interestingly, shows pitchers who use changeups frequently but aren’t necessarily performing well with this pitch. Jeremy Hellickson of the Baltimore Orioles is one such pitcher – changeups are his favorite, but he hasn’t had much success with them.

curveball_aug_27_asset_3 copy 2

This chart incorporates the same data as the scatterplot above but may be a bit clearer to see which pitchers are more dominant with the changeup when compared to their peers. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers comes first in this category – although he doesn’t use a changeup frequently, he’s certainly mastered it. Carlos Carrasco is second, and his changeup frequency is higher than Kershaw’s, so he’s taking advantage of his changeup dominance.

At the opposite end, we find J.C. Ramírez, who uses his not-so-dominant changeup infrequently, as well as other pitchers like Drew Pomeranz of the Red Sox and Lance Lynn of the Cards.

Throwing a Change of Pace

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Fastball Dominance – MLB Pitching Analysis


The most common pitch thrown by a big league pitcher is a four-seam fastball. Although there are a few variations (two-seam, cutter, and so on), the fastball pitch is designed to blaze the ball by the batter before he can properly react to it, or sneak in some late movement to fool him.

We’re looking to analyze and conclude which pitchers are the most dominant when it comes to throwing specific types of pitches – in this case, the fastball.

Specifically, we’re looking at the statistic called “standardized runs by pitch” – in this case, the standardized runs by four-seam fastballs or wFA/C. This represents the amount of runs that the pitcher saved with their fastball over the course of 100 fastballs thrown.

We’re also using “dominance” as an abstract term to describe how well a pitcher has performed this season. This doesn’t mean they have the best or fastest fastball, but rather that their pitch has been the most difficult to hit.

Heaters and Dominance

Let’s take a look at PITCHf/x data for MLB pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched through Aug. 27, 2017, and see who dominates the fastball pitch.


This scatterplot compares dominance against the percentage of time a pitcher throws a fastball. The ideal location here is the upper left quadrant – it represents pitchers who have had the best pitches and used them most often. As of August 27th, one of the notable pitchers here is Clayton Kershaw, the now 16-win pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who is leading the majors with a 1.95 ERA. Justin Verlander, now of the Houston Astros and Ariel Miranda of the Seattle Mariners are also in this ideal quadrant.

In the lower right quadrant, you’ll find pitchers who haven’t fared well with fastballs, and they’re also not throwing them frequently. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however – they may rely on other pitches. Jason Vargas from the Kansas City Royals, for example, is not known for his fastball, instead relying on other pitches to paint those corners, such as change-ups and sinkers. Masahiro Tanaka from the New York Yankees is in a similar boat – he prefers to throw sliders and splitters.

The upper right quadrant, interestingly, shows pitchers who use the fastball frequently but aren’t necessarily performing well with this pitch. Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles is one example of a high percentage of fastballs paired with results he’d rather not have. Matt Moore from the San Francisco Giants is another pitcher who uses fastballs frequently despite his lack of dominance with this particular pitch.


This chart incorporates the same data but may be a bit clearer to see which pitchers are more dominant with the fastball when compared to their peers. While the top two dominant pitchers have a fastball that reaches blazing speed (Michael Fulmer of the Tigers averages 95.7 mph, and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox is just slightly behind him at 94.6 mph), not every dominant pitcher throws lightning fastballs, and not every nondominant pitcher has a slow fastball.

This is evident when we check out the third dominant pitcher on the list. R.A. Dickey of the Atlanta Braves is No. 3 here. His fastball average of 83 mph is the opposite of heat – however, Dickey’s favorite pitch is not a fastball. Instead, he relies on knuckleballs, which is understandable due to its deceptive nature and his mastery of the pitch itself.

Toeing the Slab

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The Most Attractive MLB Players


With active rosters of 25 players for each game, expanded rosters of 40 players, and a total of 30 Major League Baseball teams, there’s over 1,200 players putting on a jersey for a MLB team each year. There’s extremely well-known players, such as Los Angeles Angels Outfielder Mike Trout or Chicago Cubs Third Baseman Kris Bryant, among this bunch of professional athletes. Conditioned for a 162 game season, there’s also many of these players who could be described in one word: fine.

Who are the most attractive professional baseball players? Thousands of people chimed in to let us know which players were hotter than New York Yankee’s Pitcher Aroldis Chapman’s 105 MPH fastball.


Micah Johnson, second baseman for the Atlanta Braves, doesn’t just live in Hotlanta – he is Hotlanta. Rating at an 8.5 out of 10 on average, he was ranked over half a point higher than the next set of most attractive MLB players. Johnson has spent two years in the majors with the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Learned early on when attending events with @monikadixon ❌sweats ❌baseball hats #acessories #rangerrick

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It was the National League players, however, who dominated the top ten hottest active players. Only one player from the American League was in the top ten: Pitcher Drew Verhagen from the Detroit Tigers, tied for seventh overall with Right Fielder Patrick Kivlehan from the Cincinnati Reds and Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Getting that spring training itch 🌞

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Hottest Position Heat Map


Outfielders are where the hotties are, according to the average ratings of players across each position. Several outfield players had ratings above 7.5 – and one was close to an 8.0! Carlos Gonzalez, outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, was deemed to be the most attractive outfielder. Just check out how he turns a family vacation photo into a model shoot.

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Cincinnati Reds Left Fielder Adam Duvall also had a high rating, 7.7, and it isn’t hard to see why!

Regular Season Is Heating Up

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Vintage Teams: Milwaukee Braves

Milwaukee-Braves-Headers_HeaderVintage Teams: Milwaukee Braves

While you may know the Milwaukee Brewers, you may not be aware of a team that pre-dated their existence: the Milwaukee Braves. Almost lost to the annals of history, this team played 13 seasons in “Brew City” in between an initial stint as the Boston Braves and their eventual move to Atlanta to become the franchise we know today.

How successful was this team? Were any significant players on their roster? What did their logo look like? We review the lost history of one of the sport’s vintage teams, the Milwaukee Braves, to learn more.

Where Did They Come From? Where Did They Go?

The Boston Braves followed the call of the West to Wisconsin. The team would eventually leave at the end of 1965 for Atlanta, Georgia – irreparably breaking the hearts of many Wisconsinites. Finally, Bud Selig, former commissioner of baseball and native son of Milwaukee, would bring baseball back to the city through bankruptcy court. This gave broken-hearted souls a chance to love America’s pastime once again.

The team’s name was intended to mock the “aristocratic Bostonians” according to sports writers of the era. Their previous name, the Doves, was changed to the Braves after James Gaffney became the president of the franchise in 1911. His inspiration for the name came from an affiliation with an organization loosely named after Delaware Valley Indian chief Tammamend, Tammany Hall.

Team Logo

Who Were Their Stars?

Hank Aaron may have been the biggest star to suit up for the Milwaukee Braves, playing during 12 of their 13 seasons in the city. He also moved with the team to Atlanta to play another nine seasons. (He’d eventually spend his last two years playing for the Milwaukee Brewers!) In 1957, the Braves would win the World Series, and Hank Aaron would play a major role. During this season, he batted in 132 runs and sent 44 balls the distance. He won the league’s MVP award with over 70 percent of the first-place vote.

Oh, and he’s still capable of throwing a perfect first, which he did at the Atlanta Braves’ inaugural game at their new stadium, SunTrust Park.

Aaron is one of five Braves players who ended up in the Hall of Fame. The other players were: Eddie Matthews, Phil Niekro, Red Schoendienst, and Warren Spahn.

Not Just a Name

While they belong to another city now, the Milwaukee Braves brought the joy of baseball to Atlanta, but not before turning many Midwesterners into lifelong fans of the game. These are the same fans thanking Bud Selig for bringing baseball back to “Brew City”. Whether you’re rooting the Atlanta Braves or the Brewers, get the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel at Fanatics.


The Best Inaugural Seasons in MLB History


First Year Success in the Big Leagues

Late 19th-century baseball very clearly valued function over fashion, as deduced by the professional baseball monikers of the era. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers of today were born from the: Brooklyn Atlantics (1884), Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1888), and Brooklyn Superbas (1899). After a stint as the Brooklyn Robins (1914) and Brooklyn Dodgers (1932), the franchise relocated to Los Angeles in 1958.

The beginnings of professional baseball are choppy with leagues forming and dissolving, but some original clubs are among the most heralded. Today’s Chicago Cubs were sculpted from an upstart 1876 inaugural season by the Chicago White Stockings as they went 52-14 in their first year, with a win/loss percentage of .788. This is the best win/loss percentage of any team – historical or current – during their inaugural season. The White Stockings carried this early success into the still-green National League, leading the league for six of their first 11 seasons.

In 1883, the Boston Beaneaters formed from the Boston Red Stockings. They had an outstanding inaugural season, going 63-35 with a win/loss percentage of .643 (sixth best in the history of baseball), which carried into a decent 24-year run for the team. They then became the: Boston Doves (1907), Boston Rustlers (1911), Boston Braves (1912), Boston Bees (1936), Boston Braves (1941), Milwaukee Braves (1953), and finally your present-day Atlanta Braves (since 1966). Yes, your storied Atlanta Braves were once the Beaneaters.

All-Star Starters


Today’s Cubs had an excellent first season of their own in 1903, with a 59.4 win/loss percentage and an 82-56 record. They were World Series champions in back-to-back years (1907 and 1908), and have appeared in 11 championship series. Before becoming the reigning champions of MLB with their 2016 title, the Cubs didn’t appear in a World Series for 71 years (1945 World Series vs. the Detroit Tigers).

This was when the Cubbies’ curse was put in motion, as a local bar owner of The Billy Goat Tavern apparently attempted to bring his goat through the turnstiles with him. The 1940s were a simpler time, yes, but you still couldn’t bring goats into ballparks. As the gentleman and his goat were sensibly turned away, he bellowed a curse on the Cubs into the Wrigley Field gates, and the longest drought in sports then commenced.

Getting a Good Leadoff


Additional noteworthy historical MLB teams include the 1885 New York Giants (win/loss percentage of .759); the 1882 Cincinnati Red Stockings (win/loss percentage of 68.8); the 1899 Brooklyn Superbas (win/loss percentage of .682), and the 1883 St. Louis Browns (win/loss percentage of .663).

The Red Stockings were a charter member of the first National League before being excommunicated by the baseball saints in 1880 for refusing to stop selling beer during games and for refusing to stop renting out the stadium on Sundays. They went on to help establish the American Association (who had no quarrel with hoppy refreshments) in 1881 and shined throughout the third finest inaugural baseball season in history.

Superbas – because you’re wondering – is a reference to a successful Broadway act of the late 19th century. As was popular during this era, team names sprung from newspaper print into game day programs. The Dodgers, rumor has it, ultimately received their name as a derivation of the nickname, Trolley Dodgers – a reference to the winding mass of trolley tracks within the borough.

Vintage Winners


In 1901, MLB added the American League into the fold, introducing eight teams into play: the Chicago White Stockings, Boston Somersets, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Cleveland Blues, and the Milwaukee Brewers. More than just an expansion experiment, this laid the groundwork for the next century of baseball in America.

Of the best win/loss percentages for MLB inaugural seasons, three of the teams still exist today: the White Sox, Tigers, and Athletics.

The Chicago White Sox played the first official game of the American League in 1901. They won their first game and 82 more en route to a current MLB best of .61. 1901 was a strong year for inaugural season records, but Chicago claims top honors. The Motor City owns the sixth best current win/loss percentage (.548) for the Tigers’ 1901 debut season, going 74-61. Being ever so slightly edged out, the 1901 Athletics (74-62 with a .544 win/loss percentage) take seventh for active teams.

Of these three American League strongholds, Detroit has appeared in 11 World Series. They’ve won four championships; however, the last was in 1984. The White Sox have appeared in less than half as many World Series, but claimed victory in 2005 against the Houston Astros.

Two late-model teams to crack the top five active teams with the best inaugural seasons are the Tampa Bay Rays (2008) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005). The Rays went 97-68 in their debut season, finishing with a 59.9 win/loss percentage – the second highest among active teams. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have the fifth best active win/loss percentage (.586). While somewhat successful, neither team has managed to find success in the postseason.

Ball Game

In the nonstop thrill ride of MLB, there’s no telling the success a future expansion team or relocated ballclub may find. Will anyone ever top the White Stockings’ debut? Well, it’s been over 140 years, and no team has managed to top them. We’ll have to tune in and see.

So if your Beaneaters jersey is now just a sash of cascading threads, and your Bridegrooms cap has become a tattered woolen sweatband, maybe it’s time to head to Fanatics to upgrade your MLB apparel.


Atlanta Braves Walk-Up Songs


Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia, which is almost 20 years old, serves as the home of the city’s Major League Baseball team, the Braves. While the stadium has never been home to a World Championship Series victory for the “Tribe,” they have made it into the Wild Card round (or later) of the playoffs in 10 of the last 18 seasons. Given the extra games they’ve had to play, you can imagine that the PA system at Turner Field has been put through the paces, especially by the players and their walk-up songs.

As a way of representing the player, and perhaps striking fear into the visiting team’s pitcher and defense, these songs are played as the batter walks up to the plate. To learn more about this unique sports soundtrack, we looked at this year’s lineup and the music genres that have become signature sounds for the Braves as they strut out to home plate.

Beats and Bats


Out of the 27 songs that have ushered Braves to the plate this season, the rock genre is the most popular. Songs such as Creed’s “Bullets” and Audioslave’s “Set It Off” welcome catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitcher Jim Johnson; they’re heard as the athletes start making their way to the batter box. This is followed up by a two-way tie for second place at six songs apiece between hip-hop/rap and Latin. Given the city’s reputation as a rap/hip-hop hub, it’s shocking that it isn’t a more dominant genre.

Even though he’s Canadian, Drake’s prominence in the rap game makes him a top choice for the Braves’ walk-up songs. Second baseman Jace Peterson walks out to “Jumpman” by Drake featuring Future. Center fielder Mallex Smith adds a hit from Drake’s newest album, “One Dance,” to the intro music rotation. Left fielder Matt Kemp places not one but two Drake songs on his list: “Back to Back” and “Used To.”

If you’ve been to Turner Field recently, you may have heard music created by the Braves’ very own Chase D’Arnaud. However, given the way he describes his own music in interviews– “It’s James Taylor meets Crosby, Stills, and Nash meets the Beatles meets the Rolling Stones meets John Mayer meets Metallica” – you could expect his personal soundtrack to include anything from Hall and Oates to Blink 182 or even Prince. Yet D’Arnaud chose a completely unexpected direction as his walk-up music: Ginuwine’s “Pony.”

Now Rocking Out at Home Plate

The Atlanta Braves players each arrive on the plate with a different song escorting them to the batter’s box. Despite some of the different tastes in music, these teammates all have the same goal: to win the game, the division, the pennant, and the World Series. Whether it’s Dio, Carlos Santana, or Drake, these Braves players have selected songs to bolster their at-bat performances.

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The Evolution of the Atlanta Braves Uniform


The story of the Atlanta Braves’ uniform history is as rich and layered as the history of the franchise itself. It’s the story of the oldest continuously operating professional sports team this country has ever seen.

Founded as the Boston Red Stockings in the spring of 1871, the team was incorporated as a charter member of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. They were the forerunner to the National League, and one of only two NL charter franchises that still exist today.

The team tried on a handful of other names – including the Beaneaters, Doves, Rustlers, and Bees – before becoming the Braves in 1912. Years later, they even switched back to the Bees for a few years.

The Braves spent almost 50 years in Boston and then did a 12-year stay in Milwaukee before finally transitioning to their current home in Atlanta. Throughout their long history, the Braves are the only franchise to have fielded a team in every recorded season of professional baseball.

Logo and Nickname History

1912–1915: The first logo of the Boston Braves features a red Native American cartoon head in a traditional headdress.

1916–1920: The cartoon Native American image is placed on a blue background.

1921–1924: The logo changes to a simple, Old English letter “B.”

1929–1935: The team reverts to a cartoon-style logo, with a turned head and more elaborate coloring.

1938–1944: A new name takes hold – the Boston Bees – once again represented by an Old English letter “B.” The name change only lasts three seasons, but the logo remains largely the same for a while.

1945–1955: The cartoon Native American logo reappears with another turn of the head, a more detailed face, and slightly altered coloring.

1956–1965: Two years into their Milwaukee experiment, the Braves change to their most debated logo: a red caricature of a Native American with white teeth, a mohawk, and an earring. This is commonly referred to as the “laughing Indian” or “screaming Indian” logo.

1966–1967: The team’s first logo as the Atlanta Braves draws inspiration from the Milwaukee era, but uses more realistic colors.

1968–1971: The team adds the word “Braves” to their logo, scripted in blue font with red trim.

1972–1984: The coloring of the Indian head changes to a simple two-tone design with a blue background. The “Braves” script is altered to match this coloring.

1985–1986: The logo is slightly modified with a larger Native American head, new coloring, and the word “Braves” placed higher up.

1987–1989: The blue background and the “Braves” script become slightly darker.

1990–Present: Atlanta’s modern logo has removed the Native American cartoon for good, but they keep the scripted “Braves.” The team name sits above a tomahawk to pay tribute to the Natives.


Atlanta Braves WinCraft 12″ x 30″ Premium Pennant

Uniform History


1913: The Boston Braves use a traditional, white, button-down uniform with a red letter “B” on the chest. They also wear blue caps and red-and-blue striped stockings. Unfortunately, the team is commonly confused with the American League Boston team, now known as the Red Sox.

1916: A new circular logo with a Native American cartoon against a blue background replaces the “B” on the chest. A solid blue cap is used on the road.

1930: The team name is incorporated into the logo on the front of the uniform, with the Native American cartoon head placed between the letters “A” and “V” in “Braves.” The color scheme is red and yellow. The cartoon logo also takes the place of uniform numbers on the back of the uniform, until a league-wide rule mandates the numbers in 1935.

1938: The team rebrands itself as the Boston Bees for three seasons. The Bees wear a pinstriped uniform with a yellow, block-letter “B” and matching blue and yellow stockings.

1941: The team changes things up on their home uniform, returning to the Braves name. They opt for a simple white and blue color scheme with a large, Old English letter “B” on the chest.

1945: The letter “B” on the home uniform is replaced with the team name in a simple, bold font. The Native American chief logo appears on the left sleeve.

1946: The logo features the name “Braves” scripted over a tomahawk with a red and blue color scheme, similar to the team’s current look.


Atlanta Braves Majestic Turner Field Final Season Patch Flexbase Authentic Collection Jersey – White

1953: Upon the team’s move to Milwaukee, an “M” replaces the “B” on the cap, and numbers are added to the front midsection of the uniform.

1963: The team removes the tomahawk from the logo and shades the uniform darker.

1968: The Braves spring for a fresh look for their new home in Atlanta, adding pinstripes to the uniform and removing the front numbering. The letter “A” replaces the “M” on the cap.

1972: The classic gray road uniform changes to a vibrant blue uniform, with the “Braves” logo scripted in white with red trim. Numbers return to the front midsection of the uniform. Notably, the team’s alternate logo, devoid of any racially sensitive depictions, first appears on the left sleeve.

1979: The road uniform returns to a traditional gray look with blue sleeves. The uniform is a T-shirt style without buttons, an MLB trend of the decade. “Atlanta” replaces the team name on the front, written in blue font with red and white trim.

1980: The Braves, a little late to the powder blue MLB craze of the ’70s, finally switch to the bright side.

1987: The Braves return to button-down-style uniforms and gray road uniforms that feature the familiar tomahawk below the city name. This look mirrors the team’s modern home/away uniform combo.

2005: The team introduces a red alternate uniform with blue and white secondary coloring.

2008: Alternate navy blue road uniforms with gray pants are introduced. The uniforms feature “Atlanta” on the breast in navy blue script with a white outline.

2012: In tribute to the team’s earliest days in Atlanta, the Braves unveil new alternate uniforms in a cream shading with numbers on the front of the uniform.

2013: The Braves wear a gray throwback uniform for select games. The uniform has minimal detailing with red font and a red trim along the sleeves.

2014: The Braves honor the record-breaking 1974 season of Hank Aaron with throwback uniforms.

2014: The Braves celebrate the 1969 season with an all-gray tribute uniform. The team name appears in dark blue shading with red trim.

2016: A clean and sharp white home uniform, reminiscent of 1946, but modern in its elegance.

Looking Back to Look Forward

In a day and age when the use of Native American alternative names, insensitive depictions, and especially unbecoming cartoons have been widely criticized, the Atlanta Braves have largely remained above the fray by being proactive in their changes.

Despite being the team’s official logo until 1990, the Native American chief hasn’t appeared on a uniform since 1972. It’s never appeared on the team’s hat, which has been marked with a simple letter to represent the home city since the days it showed a “B” for Boston.


Atlanta Braves 1876 Jersey Patch

This kind of modern sensitivity keeps any push for a major change at bay.

Then again, the oldest organization in professional baseball has a tendency to shake things up just when everyone gets comfortable. With a brand new ballpark called SunTrust Park opening next season, who knows what the Atlanta Braves will be wearing.

Are you ready to shake things up with a fresh Atlanta Braves look? Check out our selection of Braves gear on