Mike Petriello, an analyst for MLB, has ranked what pitchers in baseball have the most dominant individual pitches in baseball. This was done with a simple barometer, that being what percent of the time that pitch was thrown and resulted in a swing and a miss. It did not take called strikes into account, nor did it take exit velocity on struck balls. Just one factor was used in its analysis: the old swing and miss.
Not surprisingly, many of the leaders were relief pitchers. Not having to throw a full nine innings (ha, I meant six, it is 2017) they are able to throw all out to every hitter. Some of the names that appeared at the top of each category were shockers.
Who would have thought Felipe Rivero, a left handed reliever on the Pirates, had at 58.3% percent the highest rate of missed bats on change ups thrown in 2016? Or that Nick Vincent, right handed reliever on the Mariners who struck out 65 in 60 innings, would have a higher percentage of swings and misses on four seam fastballs (37.2%) than Aroldis Chapman (33.3%)?
A few of the leaders were not surprising. Zach Britton, who was pretty much unhittable this year, was far better than his nearest competitor in swings and misses on sinkers (his ball ducked away from opponent’s bats 36.8% of the time, with Michael Lorenzen of the Reds next at 29.9%). Batters swung and missed 62.2% of the time at Ken Giles sliders, and while he struggled early in the year after May 1st he struck out 88 in 55 innings mostly on the strength of this one pitch.
Only one pitcher in baseball made two different lists, meaning he had two of the most untouchable pitches in all baseball, and that was our very own Jeurys Familia. It’s easy to see why he had 51 saves and threw to a 2.55 ERA when you look at the arsenal of pitches he had at his disposal. If he was throwing a four seam fastball and the batter swung 34% of the time the bat didn’t hit the ball. That was good for fourth in baseball, better than the aforementioned Chapman.
Familia was third in baseball in swings and misses when throwing his sinker. He was able to avoid contact with 26.1% of swings when he unleashed his sinker. Only two pitchers in baseball were better (Britton and Lorenzen). Familia’s dominance was clearly not a fluke. He has two of the best years ever for a Mets relief pitcher back to back. While it was a little disappointing to not see Thor on the list, Familia’s name appearing twice definitely bodes well for a continuation of his success in 2017 (at least, once his suspension is complete).
Pitchers and catchers are still weeks away, but hopefully with a full cast of stud pitchers the Mets will add some more names to the list next season.