How would you judge a pitch? How would you determine the best pitch in baseball?
By velocity? It’s tempting, because every mile per hour of velocity does add effectiveness to a fastball. But movement is important, and release point, or deception. Consider that Darren O’Day‘s rising 87 mph four-seam fastball had the highest whiff rate of any four-seamer in baseball last year. Probably because they were expecting more sink from his arm slot, at least that was his theory.
By movement? Also tempting, movement provides us the easiest visuals. And movement is also linked to good outcomes for changeups and curves. Brett Cecil‘s curve got more whiffs than any other curve, all while having three inches less horizontal movement and six inches less drop than your average curve. Weird.
So we’re left looking at results in order to judge pitches. Which results we look at are important, and how we look at them of course. Let’s set up a way to judge pitches simply and look at how they rank.