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Got stuff? Looking at each Angels hurler’s best pitch

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Breaking down the best stuff one by one

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Much like in real estate, when it comes to pitching - location matters. You can have a great slider but it starts outside the zone, hitters are unlikely to chase. High spin fastball? Excellent, but throw it down the middle of the plate and it may leave the park. There is much more to pitching than just having one good pitch. That being said, I was curious so I started doing some research on Angels pitching and looking into the best pitch for each pitcher.

Determining the best pitch was largely based on Swinging Strike (or whiff) rate, out of zone swing percentage, and Fangraphs pitch value. In some cases, pitchers did not have a clear standout pitch so I went with the pitch that had the most nasty movement. Out-of-zone swing percentage in itself is not a perfect indicator since batters can still hit those pitches - however, they are much more likely to make poor contact. Take for instance Jake Jewell who had a 66.7% out-of-zone swing rate but gave up 100% contact on those pitches. From those balls that made contact, 4 were on the ground. One was a hit, one was a double play, and the other two were ground outs.

For some baselines, let’s look at a few of these categories.

(only pitches with 20+ results are included)

First the highest whiff rates:

  1. Ty Buttrey’s Slider 30%
  2. Felix Pena’s Slider 21.7%
  3. Matt Harvey’s Changeup 21.6%

Next, the highest out-of-zone swing rates:

  1. Ty Buttrey’s Slider 50%
  2. Cam Bedrosian’s Slider 48.8%
  3. Jamie Barria’s Slider 44.8%

The pitchers below are sorted by total number of pitches (for the most part). So as you go down on the list, the numbers are little more skewed because of smaller samples sizes toward the bottom. For instance, Peters has a 22% whiff rate listed but that is only 13 pitches. Last year his changeup whiff rate was 13.1%.

Trevor Cahill

Pitch 1: Knuckle Curve, 13.2% whiff rate
Pitch 2: Slider, 16.1% whiff rate

Trevor Cahill has a few nice pitches. While he doesn’t get an elite level whiff rate, he’s got the stuff to keep batters guessing.

Tyler Skaggs

Pitch 1: Changeup, 11.6% whiff rate
Pitch 2: Curveball, 9.2% whiff rate

Tyler Skaggs’ best pitch has always been his big bendy curveball. But last year he started honing his changeup. His changeup doesn’t move a lot but really keeps hitters off balance, and garnering him a slighly higher K rate than his curveball (at least for now).

Matt Harvey

Pitch 1: Changeup, 27.6% whiff rate
Pitch 2: Slider, 16.3% whiff rate

Harvey has a great change up and when he locates it well - good luck. It’s not really his best pitch though, just so far this year with a small sample size. His slider has been a historically better pitch in terms of whiff rates.

Chris Stratton

Pitch 1: Slider, 13.9% whiff rate
Pitch 2: Changeup, 10.7% whiff rate

Stratton has command issues which take away from the good pitches he does have. Look at the movement on that changeup above. Stratton has more walks than Ks this season.

Felix Pena

Pitch 1: Slider, 21.7% whiff rate
Pitch 2: Changeup, 20% whiff rate

Pena has a pair of nice pitches with his slider being the standout. His slider has a career 20.2% whiff rate which is excellent.

Jaime Barria

Pitch 1: Slider, 13.6% whiff rate

Like Pena, Barria’s best pitch is his slider. Mike Butcher would be proud - moar sliderz!!!

Noe Ramirez

Pitch 1: Fastball, 15.9% whiff rate
Pitch 2: Changeup, 10.3% whiff rate

Ramirez throws a pretty lethal changeup which has historically been his best pitch. His fastball currently has a higher whiff rate and he does generate Ks with it, but those numbers should flip as the season goes on.

Hansel Robles

Pitch 1: Fastball, 16.1% whiff rate

Robles throws a great fastball - especially when located well.

Cam Bedrosian

Pitch 1: Slider, 20% whiff rate

Bedrosian has consistently inconsistent, but when his slider is on - it’s a good one. The problem is it looks different almost every time he throws it, so command is an issue.

Luis Garcia

Pitch 1: Splitter, 20% whiff rate

Brooks Baseball calls this a changeup but everyone else calls it a splitter. That happens to other pitchers as well who through a split. Either way, it’s effective for Garcia.

Ty Buttrey

Pitch 1: Slider, 30% whiff rate

Buttrey has a very nice changeup as well but his slider is well, his bread and Buttrey (sorry for that one). It only Lucroy can block it since it often ends up in the dirt.

Cody Allen

Pitch 1: Curveball, 18.9% whiff rate

Maybe not the best example of his knuckle curve, but this is the one Allen goes to for his out pitch (he only throws this and his fastball).

Justin Anderson

Pitch 1: Slider, 8.8% whiff rate

Anderson’s slider whiff rate should be much higher and it will be once he throws it more. It was over 20% last year.

Luke Bard

Pitch 1: Fastball, 16.7% whiff rate
Pitch 2: Slider, 14.3% whiff rate

Bard has thrown less than 100 pitches this year but of his 35 sliders, none of them have been touched (unless you count his hit batter). His slider should become his best pitch once he gets more baseballs thrown.

Jake Jewell

Pitch 1: Changeup, 31.3% whiff rate

Jewell’s changeup has been untouchable this year - it’s his fastball and slider that has gotten him into trouble.

John Curtiss

Pitch 1: Slider, 19.1% whiff rate

Curtiss has a good pitch? Yes! His slider has always worked well for him with a career 18.8% whiff rate. His fastball? Well, let’s not talk about that one.

Dillon Peters

Pitch 1: Changeup, 22.2% whiff rate

Peters has a pretty bad fastball, decent curve and a great changeup.