Best PITCHf/x Pitch of 2009

Over at Baseball Analysts, I tried to find what pitchers had the best fastballs, breaking balls, and off-speed pitches using using velocity, movement, and location as my parameters. I thought it might be interesting to look at individual pitches as well.

By my methodology, the best pitches are well-located fastballs in hitter’s counts. Randy Wolf, on a 3-0 count, threw an 87-mile per hour fastball to Jody Gerut with 17 inches of rise right down the heart of the plate for a called strike. Doesn’t sound like such an impressive pitch, but Wolf came back and struck Gerut out in that at bat. Brandon League on a 2-0 count against Michael Saunders fired a 98-MPH fastball with negative (!) vertical movement that Saunders grounded to second base. Both of those pitches rated slightly ahead of a 101.6-MPH fastball from Brian Wilson on the inner third of the plate that J.J. Hardy whiffed on. Nearly all of my best-ranked pitches were either strikes or outs, but Gary Matthews Jr. was able to line a single off of a 3-1 Matt Thornton 96-MPH fastball in on his hands.

One would expect the worst pitches of the year to be balls way off the plate, which wouldn’t make for such an interesting list. In fact, 99 of the bottom 100 worst pitches by my rankings were either balls or hit by pitches. The exception was a Dana Eveland curveball in the dirt on a 2-0 count that, for some reason, Vladimir Guerrero-likely because he’s Vlad Guerrero-swung through.

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