MLB Pitch Values: Top 10 Changeups of 2010 MLB Season

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIMarch 31, 2011

MLB Pitch Values: Top 10 Changeups of 2010 MLB Season

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    MARYVALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Shaun Marcum #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 24, 2011 at Maryvale Stadium in Maryvale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/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, 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. 

    Best Fastballs

    Best Cutters

    Best Sliders

    Best Curveballs

    Best Splitters 

10. Carl Pavano

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    BALTIMORE - JULY 22:  Carl Pavano #48 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on July 22, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    wCH: 11.7

    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.  

9. Jorge De La Rosa

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 15:  Starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa #29 of the Colorado Rockies delivers against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on September 15, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    wCH: 12.1

    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. 

8. Justin Verlander

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    DETROIT - JULY 09: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the first inning during the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 9, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    wCH: 12.3

    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. 

7. John Danks

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 27: Starting pitcher John Danks #50 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field on June 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    wCH: 13.5

    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. 

6. Jason Vargas

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    ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Pitcher Jason Vargas #38 of the Seattle Mariners throws against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 29, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    wCH: 15.6

    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.  

5. Ian Kennedy

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    PHOENIX - JULY 10:  Starting pitcher Ian Kennedy #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against  the Florida Marlins during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 10, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Marlins 5-4.  (
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    wCH: 16.4

    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. 

4. Dallas Braden

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    OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 09:  Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on June 9, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    wCH: 16.6

    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. 

3. Tim Lincecum

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 27:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game One of the 2010 MLB World Series at AT&T Park on October 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    wCH: 16.9

    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. 

2. Felix Hernandez

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    SEATTLE - MAY 23:  Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the San Diego Padres at Safeco Field on May 23, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    wCH: 18.7

    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. 

1. Shaun Marcum

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    BALTIMORE - JULY 18:  Shaun Marcum #28 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on July 18, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    wCH: 26

    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.   

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