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 curveballs of the 2010 season. A few notes:
The Pitch Value data was created by Fangraphs.com. I will be using the statistic, wCH, which denotes the runs above average for a particular pitch—in this case a changeup.
The "wCH" 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.
Average Velocity: 81.2 MPH
Pavano used his changeup 22 percent of the time in 2010, and it was his dominant pitch. It possesses great horizontal movement away from a left-handed hitter, and it acts like a splitter down in the zone.
It helped Pavano record a 50 percent groundball rate last season.
Average Velocity: 84.8 MPH
De La Rosa uses a straight changeup that has a nine mph difference from his fastball. It has some downward movement, and he used the pitch 27 percent of the time last season. An increase from 17 percent in 2009.
Average Velocity: 85.7 MPH
Verlander is known for his power fastball and hard breaking curveball. However, his changeup was his best pitch in 2010.
Verlander used the pitch 16 percent of the time last season. It has a 10 mph differential from his fastball, and has tremendous movement away from a left-handed batter.
Average Velocity: 82.7 MPH
Danks possesses one of the better straight changeups in baseball. The pitch does not have much downward movement, but it will move somewhat away from a right-handed batter.
He uses the changeup 17 percent of the time and it has a nine mph differential from his average fastball.
Average Velocity: 79.1 MPH
Vargas, who only averages 86.8 mph on his fastball, relies heavily on his straight changeup. There isn't much differential between the change and his fastball, but the horizontal movement away from a right-handed hitter makes it a dangerous pitch.
Average Velocity: 80.3 MPH
Kennedy used his straight changeup 18 percent of the time in 2010. The pitch has good movement away from a left-handed batter, and it does not dive out of the strikezone. There is a nine mph difference between his fastball and changeup.
Average Velocity: 72.3 MPH
Braden's changeup is the slowest pitch on this list, and it has the largest mph differential with a fastball at 14.5 mph.
Braden uses the pitch 26 percent of the time, and it has very good movement away from a right-handed batter.
Average Velocity: 83.8 MPH
Lincecum's changeup acts very much like a splitter by having good downward movement and helped Lincecum get opponents to swing at pitches out of the strikezone 30 percent of the time.
It is worth noting that Lincecum's change up had a wCH rating on 35.2 in 2009. It is still one of the best pitches in baseball.
Average Velocity: 89.8 MPH
Hernandez throws the hardest changeup in the majors, and it does not have much of a difference in mph from his fastball at a little more than four mph.
The changeup has a lot of downward movement, more than Lincecum's, but it has more horizontal movement. He throws the pitch 15 percent of the time.
Average Velocity: 80.9 MPH
Marcum's changeup doesn't have the best downward or horizontal movement, and it has one of the lower differentials in velocity. However, Marcum's ability to throw the pitch with the same motion as his fastball made it the most successful changeup of 2010.
He threw the pitch 26 percent of the time in 2010, and it helped him to maintain a 7.60 K/9 rate last season.