Pitch Values: Top 10 Cutters of 2010 MLB Season

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIMarch 27, 2011

Pitch Values: Top 10 Cutters of 2010 MLB Season

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Before the start of the season, I wanted to see which pitchers statistically had the best fastballs, curveballs, sliders, cutters, changeups and splitters of the 2010 season.

    Here are a look at the top cutters of the 2010 season. A few notes:

    The Pitch Value data was created by Fangraphs.com. I will be using the statistic, wCT, which denotes the runs above average for a particular pitch—in this case a cutter.  

    The "wCT" stat benefits starting pitchers and pitchers who throw a certain pitch more often. Because the more often you throw a pitch, the better the chances are of it being successful.

    Sometimes, PITCH/FX does not sort pitches into the right category. For example, Brandon Morrow’s splitter was categorized as a fastball.

    Best Sliders

    Best Fastballs

    Best Curveballs

    Best Changeups

    Best Splitters  

10. Johnny Cueto

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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 10: Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto #47 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers the ball against the Philadelphia Phillies during game 3 of the NLDS at Great American Ball Park on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Phillies defeated the
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    wCT: 6.9 

    Average Velocity: 90.9 MPH

    Cueto only used his cutter eight percent of the time during the 2010 season, but it was very effective against opponents. 

    Cueto's cutter doesn't have much break inside to a left-handed hitter, but it has just enough for hitters to be out in front of the pitch (Cueto's fastballs average 93.2 MPH). He likes to work them up in the zone so they tend to lead to a number of fly balls. 

9. Andy Pettitte

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18:  Starting pitcher Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 18, 2010 in New York, New York. The Raners won 8-0.  (
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    wCT: 8.6

    Average Velocity: 83.3 MPH 

    Although Andy Pettitte retired this offseason, he still owned one of the best cutters in baseball. By throwing it 20 percent of the time, Pettitte would get a lot of ground balls to the right side from right-handed hitters. He also used it like a slider to left-handed hitters.

    It is the cutter with the least amount of velocity on this list, and some might call it a slider. Pettitte always insisted it was a cutter, and he built his reputation as a borderline Hall of Famer on it.  

8. C.J. Wilson

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20:  Starting pitcher C.J. Wilson #36 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the New York Yankees in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo b
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    wCT: 8.8

    Average Velocity: 87.8 MPH

    C.J. Wilson used his cutter close to 20 percent of the time. Unlike most cutters, Wilson's has almost no break at all.  He liked to backdoor the pitch to right-handed hitters as much as he would throw it inside, because his two-seam fastball has so much movement away from a right-handed batter.  

    Wilson's ground ball numbers (49 percent of outs) and home run rate (0.44 HR/9) were helped by the ability of Wilson to keep the pitch low in the strike zone. 

7. Chad Billingsley

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 21:  Chad Billingsley #58 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Detroit Tigers in the interleague game at Dodger Stadium on May 21, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    wCT: 9.7

    Average Velocity: 88.5 MPH

    Billingsley liked to use his cutter to both types of hitters, but especially to left-handers where he would throw it mostly on the inner half. 

    The pitch's horizontal movement was right in between his fastball and slider, which made it extremely hard for hitters to pick up on. Billingsley would keep the pitch low, but he would occasionally try to bust it up and in to left-handed batters.  

6. John Danks

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    CHICAGO - MAY 06: Starting pitcher John Danks #50 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on May 6, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    wCT: 10.8

    Average Velocity: 87.4 MPH

    Danks threw his cutter 24 percent of the time to opposing hitters with great success, and unlike some other cutters, it has a lot of movement inside to a right-handed hitter. 

    He used it exclusively on the left side of the plate to both types of hitters, and unlike most cutters on this list, it had great downward movement. 

5. Jaime Garcia

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    PHOENIX - JUNE 11:  Relief pitcher Jaime Garcia #54 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on June 11, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    wCT: 10.9 

    Average Velocity: 84.9 MPH

    Garcia's cutter is often labeled as a slider, but Garcia identifies it as a cutter. Like Danks, Garcia uses the pitch exclusively on the left side of the plate.

    It is often down in the zone and it is a pitch that helped Garcia record outs as ground balls 55 percent of the time. In addition, Garcia will often use it as his strikeout pitch.   

4. Mike Adams

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    PHOENIX - JULY 08:  Relief pitcher Mike Adams #37 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on July 8, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Padres 6-2.  (Photo
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    wCT: 14.2

    Average Velocity: 88.1 MPH

    Since Mike Adams added his cutter in 2008, he has been considered one of the best setup men in baseball. It was a secondary pitch back in 2008, but now Adams throws it 41 percent of the time. 

    The pitch has a lot of horizontal movement inside to a left-handed hitter (the most of any right-handed pitcher on the list), but it has a decent amount of movement up in the strike zone. 

3. Mariano Rivera

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during Game Three of the ALDS part of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo b
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    wCT: 16.7

    Average Velocity: 91.1 MPH

    If Rivera threw as many innings as a starter, his cutter would be the highest rated pitch in baseball. His cutter has more movement up in the zone than most four seam fastballs.  

    Rivera's cutter has lost some horizontal movement, but it is still the best in baseball. He uses the pitch 84 percent of the time to left and right-handed hitters on both sides of the plate. 

2. Jon Lester

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25:  Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during their game on September 25, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    wCT: 17.9

    Average Velocity: 89.7 MPH

    Lester uses his cutter 22 percent of the time to both right-handed and left-handed hitters, and he will backdoor the pitch to right-handed batters. It doesn't have much break inside, but it is his best ground ball inducing and strikeout pitch. 

1. Roy Halladay

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 21:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    wCT: 18.1

    Average Velocity: 91.4 MPH

    Halladay will use this pitch almost as much as his good two-seam fastball, but it has always been his most consistent pitch. There is little difference in velocity between the two pitches (fastball averages 92.1 MPH), and it makes it extremely difficult for opposing hitters to tell the difference between the two. 

    It has the second best vertical movement of any on this list, and I would say he has just as good command of it as Mariano.