Which MLB Baseball Pitchers Have The Best Changeups?
The changeup is one of the most important off-speed pitches utilized by pitchers in the MLB. The best changeups can throw off the batter’s coordination and make it hard for them to get good contact on the ball. Since it’s thrown about 10 miles per hour slower than a fastball, yet delivered with the same form, it can easily confuse batters. Read on to learn more about the MLB pitchers with the best changeups in 2023.
It should come as no surprise that Sandy Alcantara, the 2022 NL Cy Young winner, finds a spot on this list. His fastball comes in at 97 MPH on average, while his changeup usually clocks in just a bit slower at 92 MPH, which is still faster than any other pitcher on the list. In 2022, Alcantara’s changeup was his most frequently used pitch, throwing it 27.5% of the time. The whiff rate on his changeup was tied for 10th best in the league, meaning that a lot of batters hit nothing but air when it came their way. For those few batters who did make contact with the pitch, the end result was a grounder 62.3% of the time. His changeup also had the third highest spin rate in the league at 2,056 RPM.
A changeup so good it even has its own nickname, Devin Williams’ “Airbender” could have a case for not only the best changeup in baseball, but the best pitch in the game. Williams’ has drawn high praise for his changeup, most notably from legendary pitcher Pedro Martinez, who labeled the pitch as “the best changeup in all of baseball.” While the average changeup has a spin rate of 1750 RPM, Williams’ blows that out of the water with his 2800 RPM changeup, making it the highest spinning changeup in the game by far. The pitch was a major factor in his success last season, as he posted a 1.93 ERA in 65 games. Batters had a .187 wOBA against the pitch and whiffed 15% of the time it was thrown.
Like Devin Williams, Patrick Sandoval made a big jump during his 2022 campaign. In 27 games, Sandoval had a 2.91 ERA, a good improvement from his 3.62 ERA the previous year. His improved changeup contributed heavily to this jump. Sandoval is known for being able to locate his changeup on the outside corner of the plate with extreme accuracy. Sandoval’s changeup was his most utilized pitch last year, and came in at an average of 83.1 MPH. Batters whiffed on the pitch nearly half the time it was thrown their way and posted a .215 BA against it.
Luis Castillo went through a bit of a rough patch with the Cincinnati Reds in 2021, but bounced back strong in 2022, posting a 2.99 ERA and a record of 8-6. His changeup came in on average 10 MPH slower then his 97.1 MPH fastball, and the two made a deadly combo. Although the changeup was only Castillo’s third-most used pitch in the 2022 campaign, it was effective when he threw it, as it resulted in 33 strikeouts and a 26.1% whiff percentage.