Greinke’s Slider

Congratulations to Zack Greinke not only for his Cy Young season, but his historically great season. For us here at FanGraphs, it is especially nice for a stat-loving guy to win.

Greinke throws four- and two-seam fastballs, a change, a curve and a slider. A couple days ago, Harry Pavlidis checked out his curve, and here I am going to look at his slider.

It is nothing short of amazing. On a total runs saved level, it was second only to Brett Anderson‘s slider, which I profiled earlier. But Anderson throws his more often, so on a per slider basis, Greinke’s was even better.

Anderson’s slider was successful because it induced a ton of grounders (66%) and weak contact (slugging on contact of .435), but it got a below average number of whiffs (25% compared to 29% average for sliders in 2009). Greinke’s slider succeeded in the exact opposite manner. It gave up an above average slugging on contact (.502 compared to an average of .485), but gets tons and tons of whiffs (almost 45% of swings against his slider did not make contact). In fact no starter’s slider got more whiffs and only a handful of relievers’ sliders did.

+--------------------+-------+
|          Slider Whiff Rate | 
+--------------------+-------+
| Mike Wuertz        | 0.503 |
| Brad Lidge         | 0.467 |
| Luke Gregerson     | 0.455 |  
| Zack Greinke       | 0.447 |  
| Jorge de la Rosa   | 0.430 | 
+--------------------+-------+

Wuertz, of course, has an amazing slider, Lidge does, too, even in a down year, and Gregerson is surpinsingly unhittalbe. Then there is Greinke, the first starting pitcher on the list. He was the best pitcher of this year and one of the top performers of the past decade, and a huge part of it was his unhittable slider.



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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.


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neuter_your_dogma
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neuter_your_dogma

Lidge obviously should have used his slider more often in 09.

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