Pitch Values: Top 10 Curveballs of 2010 MLB Season

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIMarch 29, 2011

Pitch Values: Top 10 Curveballs of 2010 MLB Season

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 11:  Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the San Francisco Giants during an MLB game at AT&T Park on June 11, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/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 curveballs of the 2010 season. A few notes:

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

    The "wCB" 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 Fastballs

    Best Cutters

    Best Sliders

    Best Changeups 

    Best Splitters 

10. Chris Narveson

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Chris Narveson #38 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    wCB: 7.5

    Average Velocity: 74.0 MPH 

    Narveson didn't pitch particularly well in 2010, but Narveson was able to record a 7.35 K/9 rate due in part to his slow curve. The pitch has a lot of downward movement, and it plays off his fastball that he likes to use up in the zone.

    Narveson threw the pitch 19 percent of the time in 2010.  

9. Sean Marshall

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    HOUSTON - JUNE 05:  Pitcher Sean Marshall #45 of the Chicago Cubs throws against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 5, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    wCB: 8.6 

    Average Velocity: 76.9 MPH 

    Marshall threw the pitch at a 41 percent rate in 2010, as Marshall became one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball.

    The pitch has tremendous movement away from a left-handed batter, including sharp downward movement.  

8 . Roy Halladay

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 06:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    wCB: 8.9 

    Average Velocity: 78.1 MPH 

    Halladay always threw one of the best curveballs in baseball, but he threw it with less frequency in 2010 at 17 percent. 

    The curveball had less horizontal break in 2010, but more downward movement. Many still consider it Halladay's strikeout pitch.

7. Jhoulys Chacin

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    LOS ANGELES - MAY 8:  Jhoulys Chacin #45 of the Colorado Rockies throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 8, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    wCB: 9.4

    Average Velocity: 79.0 MPH 

    Chacin uses one of the best curveballs in terms of sharp downward movement. He threw the pitch 14 percent of the time in 2010, and the pitch helped him to record a strikeout per inning and a 3.28 ERA. 

6. Jered Weaver

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 11:  Jered Weaver #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Kansas City Royals in the seventh inning at Angel Stadium on August 11, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  The Angels defeated the Royals 2-1 in ten innings.(Ph
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    wCB: 9.7

    Average Velocity: 70.7 MPH 

    Weaver has the slowest curveball on this list, but he is known to throw it at a wide range of speeds. 

    The pitch was thrown 13 percent of the time, and he used it as a complement to a wide range of high fastballs. Weaver struck out 233 in 223.1 innings. 

5. Bronson Arroyo

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    NEW YORK - JULY 07:  Bronson Arroyo #61 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers a pitch against the New York Mets on July 7, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    wCB: 10.4 

    Average Velocity: 71.8 MPH 

    Arroyo threw his curveball at a 14.6 percent clip in 2010. The pitch has the same horizontal movement as his slider, but will drop an extra three inches downward.  

4. Chris Carpenter

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    PHOENIX - JUNE 13:  Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on June 13, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Cardinal
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    wSL: 12.8 

    Average Velocity: 74.2 MPH 

    Carpenter threw his sweeping curveball 27 percent of the time in 2010, a career high. While it lost both downward and horizontal break this season, it was still Carpenter's best pitch in 2010. 

3. Brett Myers

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 25:  Pitcher Brett Meyers #39 throws in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Minute Maid Park on April 25, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    wCB: 13.2 

    Average Velocity: 76.2 MPH

    Myers' curveball had the sharpest downward break of any curveball on this list and it the movement increased from 2009. While he started using his slider more frequently for the first time in 2010, Myers still used the pitch at a 20 percent rate. 

2. Gio Gonzalez

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Seattle Mariners during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 8, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Ge
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    wCB: 21.1

    Average Velocity: 78.6 MPH 

    Gio Gonzalez likes to use his high fastball, and his sharp curveball complements the pitch perfectly. He threw the pitch at a 30 percent rate in 2010, and many scouts think he has better command of the pitch than his fastball.  

1. Adam Wainwright

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 26:  Starting pitcher Adam Wainright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 26, 2009 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    wCB: 22.4

    Average Velocity: 74.1 MPH 

    Wainwright's curveball had the most horizontal break of any curveball on the list, and he threw it more often in 2010 (28.7 percent). It's a shame that Wainwright will miss this season, and we can only hope that his curveball is as special when he returns from Tommy John surgery.


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