Starting Pitcher Pitch Rankings

As I stated in my earlier article, I would be posting data from my pitch-effectiveness measurement I introduced. Let’s start with the starting pitchers.

1. Top Ten Four-Seam Fastballs (Min 500):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
Chris Sale 85.89 3.08 0.24 2.86 5.94
Jacob deGrom 83.06 2.68 0.27 2.13 4.81
Jose Berrios 74.74 1.51 0.27 1.97 3.48
Jimmy Nelson 76.65 1.78 0.30 1.34 3.12
Jeff Samardzija 75.97 1.68 0.30 1.34 3.02
Max Scherzer 73.97 1.40 0.29 1.55 2.95
Chase Anderson 74.24 1.44 0.29 1.45 2.89
Rick Porcello 77.50 1.90 0.31 0.87 2.77
James Paxton 73.32 1.31 0.29 1.42 2.73
Danny Salazar 80.27 2.29 0.33 0.42 2.71

The Stars: Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, James Paxton

Young and Coming: Jose Berrios

Surprises: Rick Porcello, Chase Anderson, Jeff Samardzija

This group includes some bona-fide talent and some surprises. Porcello’s 1.90 Z-Score on the Sw+Whf% jumps out, considering his lack of stuff and general pitch to contact. Anderson is quietly putting together a solid season, with a 2.88 ERA in 122 innings of work. Samardzija’s incredible strikeout and walk peripherals have been well documented this year.

2. Top Ten Two-Seam Fastballs (Min 300):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
Sonny Gray 72.12 2.18 0.30 1.39 3.57
Jaime Garcia 67.96 1.49 0.28 1.97 3.46
David Price 72.83 2.29 0.32 0.86 3.15
Lance Lynn 66.66 1.27 0.31 1.16 2.43
Matt Garza 65.31 1.05 0.30 1.34 2.39
Luis Castillo 64.66 0.94 0.30 1.44 2.38
Chris Sale 65.23 1.04 0.30 1.34 2.38
Jameson Taillon 69.98 1.82 0.34 0.40 2.23
J.A. Happ 63.82 0.80 0.30 1.29 2.09
Julio Teheran 69.27 1.71 0.35 0.20 1.91

The Stars: Sonny Gray, David Price, Chris Sale, Julio Teheran

Young and Coming: Jameson Taillon, Luis Castillo

Surprises: Jaime Garcia, Matt Garza

We see Sale again, which, considering what he has done this year, is not surprising. Garza has been generally terrible this year, so his inclusion in this list is unexpected. Castillo, a rookie for the Cincinnati Reds, has pieced together some quality starts out of the spotlight.

3. Top Five Cut Fastballs (Min 200):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
James Paxton 89.03 1.81 0.20 2.03 3.84
Corey Kluber 97.90 2.82 0.28 0.48 3.30
Tyler Chatwood 84.08 1.25 0.21 1.81 3.06
John Lackey 84.72 1.32 0.26 0.85 2.17
Zack Godley 78.94 0.66 0.24 1.39 2.05

(Only five because the small use of cutters)

The Stars: James Paxton, Corey Kluber

Young and Coming: Zach Godley

Surprises: Tyler Chatwood

We see Paxton again, who has established himself as a star this season. Godley has been great for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Tyler Chatwood has been poor for the Colorado Rockies.

4. Top Five Sinker Fastball (Min 200):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
Trevor Williams 68.72 1.87 0.30 1.73 3.61
Jimmy Nelson 65.69 1.43 0.32 1.11 2.54
Jose Quintana 64.77 1.29 0.32 1.18 2.47
Jon Lester 61.89 0.87 0.31 1.29 2.17
Jake Arrieta 58.31 0.35 0.31 1.43 1.78

(Only five because the small use of sinkers)

The Stars: Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana

Young and Coming: Trevor Williams

Surprises: None

An emerging starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, an emerging ace for the Milwaukee Brewers, and…three Chicago Cubs. I gave the Cubs pitchers the benefit of the doubt and put them under “The Stars” category, but they may have pitched their way out of there this season.

5. Top Two Splitter Fastball (Min 200):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
Kevin Gausman 94.79 0.96 0.21 1.61 2.57
Ricky Nolasco 95.42 1.02 0.22 1.35 2.37

The splitter leaderboard included only nine starters, so this one is short. Kevin Gausman has rebounded from a horrendous start to be solid, and Ricky Nolasco has continued to provide what he always has: mediocrity.

6. Top Ten Curveball (Min 300):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
Corey Kluber 109.61 3.16 0.12 2.26 5.42
Charlie Morton 88.69 1.30 0.17 1.44 2.74
James Paxton 84.54 0.93 0.16 1.49 2.42
Zack Godley 93.67 1.74 0.22 0.60 2.35
Aaron Nola 87.91 1.23 0.19 1.07 2.30
Carlos Carrasco 88.65 1.30 0.19 0.99 2.28
Ivan Nova 84.32 0.91 0.18 1.21 2.12
James Shields 91.18 1.52 0.22 0.50 2.02
Alex Meyer 82.68 0.76 0.19 1.07 1.84
Jon Lester 89.57 1.38 0.22 0.45 1.82

The Stars: Corey Kluber, James Paxton, Carlos Carrasco

Young and Coming: Zach Godley

Surprises: James Shields, Alex Meyer, John Lester, Charlie Morton

We see Kluber again, and Godley again, and Paxton for a third time. No surprise considering the seasons they have put up. Shields’ days as a front-of-the-rotation starter are far behind him. Meyer has quietly put together some solid starts for the Los Angeles Angels as a complete unknown. Lester is a surprise here because this is his second leaderboard appearance, and he has not pitched well. Morton is mostly known for his injury problems, but he has developed some of the best “stuff” in the game in his first year in Houston.

7. Top Ten Slider (Min 300):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
Carlos Carrasco 108.62 2.51 0.15 2.06 4.56
Max Scherzer 104.66 2.10 0.17 1.79 3.89
Sonny Gray 97.27 1.35 0.16 1.87 3.22
Dylan Bundy 99.46 1.58 0.19 1.28 2.85
Clayton Kershaw 101.38 1.77 0.22 0.82 2.59
Patrick Corbin 94.91 1.11 0.19 1.24 2.35
Marcus Stroman 96.92 1.32 0.21 1.03 2.34
Zack Greinke 104.05 2.04 0.24 0.30 2.34
Mike Clevinger 96.96 1.32 0.21 1.01 2.33
Mike Leake 96.40 1.27 0.21 0.93 2.20

The Stars: Carlos Carrasco, Max Scherzer, Sonny Gray, Clayton Kershaw, Marcus Stroman, Zach Greinke

Young and Coming: Dylan Bundy, Mike Clevinger

Surprises: Patrick Corbin

Finally! The man we have been waiting to see, Kershaw, makes his first appearance. As does Scherzer. The star power of this group is by far the strongest. Bundy has been “Young and Coming” for decades it seems now, and no one knows if the flashes will become consistency ever. Still just 24 years old, though, so I will keep my hopes up. Clevinger has been a nice surprise for the Cleveland Indians, and Corbin has bounced back from a miserable 2016 to be solid for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

8. Top Ten Changeup (Min 300):

Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
Stephen Strasburg 104.30 2.31 0.15 2.76 5.07
Luis Castillo 97.25 1.46 0.18 2.27 3.73
Danny Salazar 102.60 2.11 0.23 1.01 3.12
Kyle Hendricks 95.35 1.23 0.22 1.25 2.49
Max Scherzer 90.38 0.63 0.20 1.72 2.35
Edinson Volquez 91.28 0.74 0.21 1.54 2.28
Carlos Carrasco 86.47 0.16 0.19 1.90 2.06
Eduardo Rodriguez 95.70 1.28 0.26 0.48 1.76
Jason Vargas 91.99 0.83 0.26 0.46 1.29
Cole Hamels 93.09 0.96 0.27 0.24 1.20

The Stars: Stephen Strasburg, Kyle Hendricks, Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco, Cole Hamels

Young and Coming: Luis Castillo, Eduardo Rodriguez

Surprises: Edinson Volquez

Scherzer again, which makes me feel better about the validity of this work. Carrasco for the third time in a row. His breaking and offspeed stuff are killer. Very few people outside of Cincinnati know Castillo, but this is the rookie’s second leaderboard appearance. Rodriguez has continued to flash this year, but injuries and inconsistency continue for the young Red Sock. Volquez is still embracing his mediocrity.

Starters Top Fifteen Overall:

Pitch Player Sw+Whf% Sw+Whf% Z xwOBA xwOBA Z Z Total
4-Seam Chris Sale 85.89 3.08 0.24 2.86 5.94
Curveball Corey Kluber 109.61 3.16 0.12 2.26 5.42
Changeup Stephen Strasburg 104.30 2.31 0.15 2.76 5.07
4-Seam Jacob deGrom 83.06 2.68 0.27 2.13 4.81
Slider Carlos Carrasco 108.62 2.51 0.15 2.06 4.56
Slider Max Scherzer 104.66 2.10 0.17 1.79 3.89
Cutter James Paxton 89.03 1.81 0.20 2.03 3.84
Changeup Luis Castillo 97.25 1.46 0.18 2.27 3.73
Sinker Trevor Williams 68.72 1.87 0.30 1.73 3.61
2-Seam Sonny Gray 72.12 2.18 0.30 1.39 3.57
4-Seam Jose Berrios 74.74 1.51 0.27 1.97 3.48
2-Seam Jaime Garcia 67.96 1.49 0.28 1.97 3.46
Cutter Corey Kluber 97.90 2.82 0.28 0.48 3.30
Slider Sonny Gray 97.27 1.35 0.16 1.87 3.22
2-Seam David Price 72.83 2.29 0.32 0.86 3.15

Best Pitch: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox, 4-Seam Fastball

Best Repertoire: Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Biggest Surprise: Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds, Changeup

This list is almost all household names. In first and second, we have the AL Cy Young frontrunners. Jeff Sullivan recently wrote an article about Kluber’s curveball, and how it may be the best pitch in baseball. It isn’t number one here, but second place is not too shabby. His cutter also appears here, so his dominance is not hard to explain. Sonny Gray’s stuff is well known, and he shows up twice on this table, but his numbers are not spectacular this year. Lastly, watch out for Castillo. He’s a no-name rook, but he has been solid for the Reds, and the ranking of his changeup may be the evidence to support his success.

Next up is relievers.



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Snerd
Member

Great work! Apparently this in an analysis I didn’t know I wanted.

Dominikk85
Member

Great article. I’m surprised kershaw is only up there in one category this year.