Pitch Values: Top 10 Sliders of 2010 MLB Season

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIMarch 28, 2011

Pitch Values: Top 10 Sliders of 2010 MLB Season

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    SEATTLE - JUNE 24: Relief pitcher Carlos Marmol #49 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 24, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/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 is 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 "wSL," which denotes the runs above average for a particular pitch—in this case, a slider.  

    The wSL stat benefits starting pitchers and pitchers who throw a certain pitch more often. 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 Fastballs

    Best Cutters

    Best Curveballs

    Best Changeups 

    Best Splitters 

10. Brett Myers

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    NEW YORK - JUNE 11:  Brett Myers #39 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Yankees on June 11, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    wSL: 14.7

    Average Velocity: 83.7 MPH 

    Myers started throwing his slider more frequently during the 2010 season (27 percent of all pitches thrown), and he put up a career year.

    According to PITCH/FX, his slider had more horizontal and downward movement than any previous year.

9. Colby Lewis

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 16:  Starting pitcher Colby Lewis #48 of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in Game Two of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 16, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    wSL: 15 

    Average Velocity: 83.4 MPH 

    Lewis throws his slider 23 percent of the time, and he will use it consistently both sides of the plate. It breaks two inches away from a right-handed batter and it stays low in the zone.

    Lewis success has directly correlated with his usage of the pitch. Before he went to Japan, he only threw the pitch 7 percent of the time.  

8.Joel Hanrahan

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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 21:  Joel Hanrahan #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on September 21, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    wSL: 15 

    Average Velocity: 85.3 MPH 

    Hanrahan's slider does not have much horizontal movement, but he was able to give the pitch more downward movement. 

    He ended up using the pitch 39 percent of the time, and it allowed him to record close to a 13 K/9 rate. 

7. Ryan Dempster

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    CHICAGO - MAY 30:  Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 30, 2010 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    wSL: 15.1

    Average Velocity: 84.8 MPH 

    Dempster throws his slider 35 percent of the time, and it helped him to record the second best strikeout rate of his career.  

    The pitch breaks an inch and a half away from a right-handed batter, but downward movement is what sets it apart.  

6. Luke Gregerson

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 04: Luke  Gregerson #57 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 4, 2009 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)
    Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

    wSL: 16.8

    Average Velocity: 84.0 MPH 

    Gregerson throws his slider more than 58 percent of the time, and helped him record the third-best swing and miss percentage among pitches who have thrown 50 innings. 

    He will throw the pitches to both sides of the plate, no matter what type of hitter is at the plate. 

5. Randy Wells

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 08:  Randy Wells #36 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 8, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    wSL: 17.1

    Average Velocity: 84.2 MPH 

    Randy Wells has established his slider as one of the better pitches in baseball over the last two years. It has good break slide to side, and he keeps it very low in the stirkezone. 

    Wells only recorded a 6.6 K/9 rate, but most of his strikeouts come on this dominant pitch.  

4. CC Sabathia

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 15:  CC Sabithia #52 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers in Game One of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 15, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Stephen
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    wSL: 17.8 

    Average Velocity: 80.3 MPH 

    Sabathia threw his slider 20 percent of the time last season, and it was his most successful pitch of the year. He struggled with the pitch in 2009, only recording a 0.9 wSL. 

    Sabathia's slider has the horizontal movement of any slider mentioned on this list so far, and he usually keeps it down and in to right-handed hitters. 

3. Clayton Kershaw

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  Pitcher Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against Texas Rangers during the spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch on March 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Im
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    wSL: 18.1 

    Average Velocity: 81.4 MPH

    Kershaw first started to develop his slider in 2009, but he started throwing it more frequently during the 2010 season (19 percent).

    It became his most successful pitch of the season, and allowed him to set a career high in strikeouts.  

2. Francisco Liriano

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 14: Starting pitcher Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on September 14, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    wSL: 19

    Average Velocity: 85.9 MPH 

    Liriano's slider doesn't have much break to it, but that's what makes it such a dominant pitch.

    He throws it around 34 percent of the time, and it usually looks like a fastball until it breaks at the last second away from a left-handed hitter. 

    The pitch allowed Liriano to have the best swing-and-miss rate among any starter in baseball. 

1. Carlos Marmol

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    CHICAGO - MAY 12: Carlos Marmol #49 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the 9th inning against the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field on May 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Marlins 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    wSL: 19 

    Average Velocity: 83.8 MPH 

    Marmol throws the pitch 59 percent of the time, and it may be the most dominant offspeed pitch in baseball.

    It has the best horizontal and downward movement of any pitch on this list, and it allowed Marmol to record an amazing 15.99 K/9 rate.  

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