Sunday, June 3, 2012

MLB Pitchers with Best Stuff

The quantitative bounties found in Fangraphs linear weights help us understand most of the who, what, how, or why certain things happen on the field. It is important to remember that pitch values are not a predictive stat. They value what occurred on the field, as a result of specific pitches thrown but should not be used to attempt to predict the future. In the game of trying to guess what will happen, from a pitching standpoint, we suggest looking at players' SIERA or xFIP, as ERA predictors, or their K/BB ratio in a simpler sense.

Without further ado, as of the morning of June 3rd, here are the pitchers with the best "stuff" of the season, by Fangraphs pitch type linear weights.

Best Fastball (wFB)
Jered Weaver, Angels: 12.8
Jake Peavy, White Sox: 11.8
Lance Lynn, Cardinals: 11.7
Justin Verlander, Tigers: 11.4
Aroldis Chapman, Reds: 10.6

Aroldis Chapman's fastball is taking MLB by storm.

Best Slider (wSL)
Tommy Hanson, Braves: 8.8
Craig Stammen, Nationals: 6.9
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals: 6.8
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers: 6.6
Bronson Arroyo, Reds: 6.5

Best Cut Fastball (wCT)
Scott Atchison, Red Sox: 7.3
Carlos Zambrano, Marlins: 6.3
Tommy Hunter, Orioles: 5.4
Luke Hochevar, Royals: 4.6
Scott Feldman, Rangers: 4.3

Best Curveball (wCB)
Tim Collins, Royals: 6.7
Brad Lincoln, Pirates: 6
Justin Verlander, Tigers: 4.9
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals: 4.7
Erik Bedard, Pirates: 4.5

The biggest surprise of this exercise is seeing who had the best Curveball.

Best Change Up (wCH)
Cole Hamels, Phillies: 7.7
Ricky Romero, Blue Jays: 7.2
Anibal Sanchez, Marlins: 6.9
Bruce Chen, Royals: 6.7
Tommy Milone, Athletics: 5.9

Best Split Finger (wSF)
Jose Arredondo, Reds: 8
Jeff Samardzija, Cubs: 4.6
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins: 4.3
Carlos Zambrano, Marlins: 4
Dan Haren, Angels: 3.8

The Angels never should have let Jose Arredondo leave the O.C.

Best Single Pitch
Jered Weaver, Angels: 12.8 FB
Jake Peavy, White Sox: 11.8 FB
Lance Lynn, Cardinals: 11.7 FB
Justin Verlander, Tigers: 11.4 FB
Aroldis Chapman, Reds: 10.6 FB
C.J. Wilson, Angels: 10.4 FB
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals: 10.2 FB
Ernesto Frieri, SD/LAA: 9.7 FB
Brandon Beachy, Braves: 9.2 FB
David Price, Rays: 8.9 FB
Tommy Hanson, Braves: 8.8 SL

We had to keep going, just to see what pitch other than a four-seam fastball, would get someone on the list. Tommy Hanson's slider checked in as the 11th most valuable pitch of the first two months of the 2012 season.

Tommy Hanson's slider is currently the most successful breaking ball.

Best Two (2) Pitches
Justin Verlander, Tigers: 16.3 FB/CB
Jered Weaver, Angels: 15.9 FB/CH
Jake Peavy, White Sox: 15.4 FB/SL
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals: 14.9 FB/CB
Aroldis Chapman, Reds: 12.8 FB/SL
Lance Lynn, Cardinals: 12.8 FB/CH
David Price, Rays: 12.2 FB/CH
Brandon Beachy, Braves: 12 FB/SL
C.J. Wilson, Angels: 11.8 FB/CH
James McDonald, Pirates: 11.3 FB/SL

Best Three (3) Pitches
Justin Verlander, Tigers: 18 FB/CB/SL
Jake Peavy, White Sox: 17.2 FB/SL/CT
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals: 16.6 FB/CB/CH
James McDonald, Pirates: 15.8 FB/SL/CB
Jered Weaver, Angels: 15.1 FB/CH/CB
Brandon Beachy, Braves: 13.3 FB/SL/CH
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: 13.3 FB/SL/CB
C.J. Wilson, Angels: 13.1 FB/CH/CB
David Price, Rays: 12.7 FB/CH/CB
Lance Lynn, Cardinals: 12.1 FB/CH/SL

Brandon Beachy leads the NL in ERA, by mixing in four quality pitches.

Best Four (4) Pitches
Justin Verlander, Tigers: 18 FB/CB/SL/CH
Jake Peavy, White Sox: 17.2 FB/SL/CT/CH
James McDonald, Pirates: 15.8 FB/SL/CB/CH
Jered Weaver, Angels: 15.1 FB/CH/CB/SL
Brandon Beachy, Braves: 13.3 FB/SL/CH/CB
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: 13.3 FB/SL/CB/CH
C.J. Wilson, Angels: 13.1 FB/CH/CB/SL
Anibal Sanchez, Marlins: 11.3 CH/FB/SL/CB
Chris Capuano, Dodgers: 10.8 FB/CH/CB/SL
Matt Cain, Giants: 10.6 SL/FB/CH/CB

Total Weighted Value of All Pitches
Justin Verlander, Tigers: 18.3
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals: 16.6
James McDonald, Pirates: 15.9
Jered Weaver, Angels: 14.6
Jake Peavy, White Sox: 14.6
Brandon Beachy, Braves: 14.4
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: 12.9
Aroldis Chapman, Reds: 12.8
Chris Sale, White Sox: 11.9
Anibal Sanchez, Marlins: 11.3
Johan Santana, Mets: 11.3

Aroldis Chapman getting this much value out of his fastball and slider, out of the bullpen is truly remarkable. While Dusty Baker doesn't seem to think he's ready to start a game for the Cincinnati Reds, he should start the All Star Game for the National League.

Knowing James McDonald is 3rd in this category ought to get you a Cliff Claven little-known-fact award at your local pub.

With a WHIP under 1.00, McDonald should be an All-Star

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