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Athletics embrace magic as they sign Ryan Madson, the changeup wizard

Athletics signed Ryan Madson, the changeup wizard

With velocities ever rising and bullpens being built under the Michael Bay assumption that explosive fireballs are the best, the Athletics decided to opt for a baseball magician on Sunday. By agreeing to a three-year, $22 million contract with Ryan Madson , the A's acquired a pitcher whose greatest skill is pulling the invisible thread on his changeup -- a pitch that is baseball's equivalent of sawing a lady in half. 

Last season, Madson was second among all relievers with a changeup that was +10 runs above average. It's not hard to see why. Blessed with a 10 mph difference between his fastball and his changeup, and a tremendous amount of backspin, Madson makes the rules of physics look like mere suggestions with his 83 mph offerings every time out. 

It doesn't matter if you're a lefty or righty, as righties hit just .143 against the pitch, while lefties hit a slightly-less-terrible .159. 

You can be a slugger like Chris Davis and Miguel Sano and it won't matter. Both will go down when Madson pulls the changeup rabbit out of his hat. (And in Davis' case below, it was on three straight changes.) 

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Or you could be a contact-focused utilityman like Ryan Goins. When Ryan Madson asks for a volunteer and you step into the box, you'll go flailing, too. 

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And don't think you're safe if you lay off pitches on the outside. Just like "Now You See Me," about a bunch of magician bank thieves, Madson will rob you blind on the inside corner, too. 

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Of course, it's important to remember that just as Madson is an excellent close-up magician, he's also pretty good at grand David Blaine-esque feats of grandeur. After all, it's not like he doesn't have a great fastball, too. Madson threw 144 pitches at 95 mph or faster. 

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