Clayton Kershaw

Some pitchers are known for one particular offering in their arsenal — Aroldis Chapman’s record-breaking fastball, Barry Zito’s looping 12-6 curve, Cole Hamels’ tailing changeup. Those guys have largely built their success through the mastery of one grip.

But which pitches are the most dominant in today’s game? That’s a question PointAfter set out to answer by using PITCHf/x pitch values from the beginning of the 2015 season until April 26, 2016. That gives us more than a full season of data to work with, and also rewards players who have managed to carry over their success from last year into the beginning of this season.

It should also be mentioned that a pitch accumulates more value as the pitcher continues to mine positive results from it. That means a curveball that generates 0.1 value and is thrown 10 times creates more value than a curveball that generates 0.2 value and is thrown four times. You can check out how PITCHf/x pitch value is calculated here.

Shockingly, one hurler accounts for the top two offerings in the Majors. Read on to see which player has arguably the best claim to being the most dominant pitcher alive, as well as some other nasty pitches that opposing batters can usually only dream about hitting on their way back to the dugout.

All PITCHf/x pitch values are accurate as of games completed on April 26.

#30. Jose Quintana’s Curveball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 13.5
2015 Value: 13.3
Average 2015 Speed: 79.8 mph

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Quintana’s curve has been more than 3 mph slower this season than last, which might have to do with its reduced effectiveness thus far.

#29. Dallas Keuchel’s Two-Seam Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 14
2015 Value: 17.5
Average 2015 Speed: 89.5 mph

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Keuchel surprisingly won the AL Cy Young last year with the two-seamer as his main offering, throwing it 36 percent of the time. For some reason, he’s changed his approach and has thrown it on just 23 percent of pitches thus far in 2016. Perhaps that’s why he’s having a rough go of it so far, recording a 4.41 ERA through five starts.

#28. John Lackey’s Two-Seam Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 14.6
2015 Value: 15.9
Average 2015 Speed: 91.6 mph

Lackey threw his two-seamer a career-high 32 percent of the time in 2015 after never topping 15 percent previously.

#27. Marco Estrada’s Changeup

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 14.9
2015 Value: 13.2
Average 2015 Speed:mph

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Estrada’s changeup averaged 10 inches of vertical movement last year, the most in the Majors.

#26. Zack Greinke’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 15.2
2015 Value: 20.4
Average 2015 Speed: 91.8 mph

The first of three offerings from Greinke to appear on this list, his fastball sets the table for everything that follows. It’s not the most blazing heater out there, but it found the strike zone 55 percent of the time Greinke decided to hurl it last season.

#25. Gio Gonzalez’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 16.3
2015 Value: 14.9
Average 2015 Speed: 92.2 mph

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Gonzalez’s sidearm delivery gives his fastball loads of lateral movement. The lefty’s heater averaged 7.3 inches of horizontal movement last year, the third-most in the Majors behind another pair of side-armed southpaws in Chris Sale and Alex Wood.

#24. Danny Salazar’s Changeup

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 16.5
2015 Value: 13.6
Average 2015 Speed: 85.2 mph

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Salazar’s changeup generated swinging strikes 27 percent of the time, by far the best results of any of his offerings.

#23. Lance Lynn’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 17.4
2015 Value:
Average 2015 Speed: 92.2 mph

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Lynn won’t take the mound in 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. But for now, his fastball still ranks as one of the game’s most valuable pitches. That’s because he threw his four-seamer or two-seamer a whopping 82 percent of the time, managing to keep hitters off-balance via different types of movement. The adjacent interview gives you an idea of just how much Lynn has depended on his heater throughout his baseball career.

#22. Zack Greinke’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 17.7
2015 Value: 17.8
Average 2015 Speed: 86.9 mph

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Opposing hitters put together a slash line of .164/.183/.197 against Greinke’s slider in 2015. This year, they’ve improved to the tune of .273/.273/.455. That’s likely the main reason why Greinke has struggled out of the gates for Arizona.

#21. Johnny Cueto’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 17.7
2015 Value: 14.4
Average 2015 Speed: 92.2 mph

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When you precede Cueto’s heater with the occasional deceptive shimmy, that makes it quite the task for hitters to get their timing down on him.

#20. Corey Kluber’s Curveball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 17.8
2015 Value: 15.5
Average 2015 Speed: 82.7 mph

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Kluber’s curveball averaged 10.1 inches of vertical movement last year, the second-most in the Majors behind Dallas Keuchel.

#19. Madison Bumgarner’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 18.4
2015 Value: 19
Average 2015 Speed: 86.3 mph

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Opposing hitters made contact with Bumgarner’s sliders on 71 percent of swings last year, by far the best mark of the southpaw’s career.

#18. Max Scherzer’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 18.5
2015 Value: 20.7
Average 2015 Speed: 94.1 mph

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Scherzer’s fastball was the best it’s ever been last season, generating swings and misses 13 percent of the time.

#17. Clayton Kershaw’s Curveball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 19.3
2015 Value: 17.2
Average 2015 Speed: 73.5 mph

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Kershaw’s curve is the stuff of legend. It’s nearly 20 mph slower than his fastball (which we’ll get to in a bit), and induced hitters into swings and misses a career-high 19 percent of the time in 2015.

#16. Cole Hamels’ Changeup

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 19.3
2015 Value: 17.5
Average 2015 Speed: 84.3 mph

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Long regarded as one of the game’s best off-speed pitches, Hamels’ changeup has induced a career-low 53 percent contact rate from hitters thus far in 2016.

#15. Corey Kluber’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 19.8
2015 Value: 16.9
Average 2015 Speed: 88.6 mph

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Kluber’s slider generated even more swinging strikes in 2015 (21 percent) than it did during the right-hander’s Cy Young campaign in 2014 (18 percent).

#14. Zack Greinke’s Changeup

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 20.1
2015 Value: 20.9
Average 2015 Speed: 88.2 mph

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The most valuable of Greinke’s three pitches to appear on this list, his changeup was also the best in the Majors last year. Greinke threw it a career high 19 percent of the time while recording a sparkling 1.66 ERA.

#13. Dallas Keuchel’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 20.2
2015 Value: 17.6
Average 2015 Speed: 79.3 mph

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Keuchel’s slider isn’t nearly as fast as the others on this list — it ranked 53rd in speed out of 78 qualified sliders. But it still held opposing batters to a miniscule .317 OPS in 2015. For reference, Keuchel’s second-best pitch from that standpoint, a changeup, held hitters to a .553 OPS last season.

#12. Clayton Kershaw’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 20.4
2015 Value: 16.3
Average 2015 Speed: 88 mph

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Kershaw’s curveball is held in higher regard than his slider. However, it was the latter that generated a whopping 26 percent swinging strike rate last year, compared to 19 percent on curves.

#11. J.A. Happ’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 20.8
2015 Value: 16.6
Average 2015 Speed: 92 mph

Happ also boasts a two-seamer, which is lumped together with his four-seamer in the adjacent visualization. But it was the latter that blossomed into the fourth-most valuable fastball in the bigs last season, helping Happ to a 3.61 ERA with the Mariners and Blue Jays.

#10. Felix Hernandez’s Curveball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 20.8
2015 Value: 19.8
Average 2015 Speed: 80 mph

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Hernandez possessed the most devastating hook in baseball last year. Hitters made contact with it on just 65 percent of swings, and that figure has dropped even more to 59 percent so far in 2016.

#9. Jason Hammel’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 21.2
2015 Value: 15.4
Average 2015 Speed: 84.4 mph

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Hammel has increased his slider usage from 21 percent with Baltimore in 2013 to 36 percent with Chicago last year, and for good reason. Opposing hitters have recorded a microscopic .156 OPS against the 33-year-old’s slider so far in 2016.

#8. Chris Archer’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 21.2
2015 Value: 25.4
Average 2015 Speed: 87.8 mph

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Archer’s slider was the single most valuable pitch in baseball last season, but his slow start in 2016 has pushed it down the ranks a bit overall. He threw it 39 percent of the time in 2015, the second-highest rate behind just one other slider-heavy righty…

#7. Tyson Ross’ Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 22.2
2015 Value: 23.9
Average 2015 Speed: 86.6 mph

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Nearly 42 percent of Ross’ pitchers in 2015 were sliders, the highest ratio in the Majors.

#6. Jacob deGrom’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 22.5
2015 Value: 21.2
Average 2015 Speed: 94.9 mph

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The long-haired righty’s heater registered as the seventh-fastest in the Majors last season among qualified starters, and the second-fastest on this list.

#5. Francisco Liriano’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 25.2
2015 Value: 23.1
Average 2015 Speed: 85 mph

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Liriano’s slider generated a whopping 49 percent K% in 2015, as well as an opposing slash line of .126/.176/.218. The somewhat inconsistent lefty might not be in the top tier of MLB hurlers, but his slider is one of the best in the game.

#4. Gerrit Cole’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 26.8
2015 Value: 24.3
Average 2015 Speed: 95.5 mph

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Cole’s fastball was the third-fastest in the Majors last season among qualified pitchers, behind only Garrett Richards (95.7 mph) and Yordano Ventura (95.6 mph).

#3. Clayton Kershaw’s Fastball

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 26.9
2015 Value: 24.4
Average 2015 Speed: 93.6 mph

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Kershaw’s fastball has finished atop the PITCHf/x fastball value leaderboard every year since 2011. That’s one way to become the most feared pitcher in the sport.

#2. Jake Arrieta’s Sinker

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 27.1
2015 Value: 21.5
Average 2015 Speed: 94.6 mph

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It’s (probably) not steroids helping Arrieta ascend to the top of the sport, though you honestly can’t blame some people from wondering. The righty’s two best offerings rank as the two best pitches in the Majors dating back to the start of 2015, and that’s largely because they’re the fastest of their kind.

Arrieta’s sinker is his go-to pitch, and it averaged nearly 95 mph with 7.1 inches of vertical movement, the third-most of all sinkers. That’s just unfair.

#1. Jake Arrieta’s Slider

Combined 2015-16 PITCHf/x Value: 28.1
2015 Value: 23.8
Average 2015 Speed: 90.3 mph

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It’s probably no coincidence that the fastest slider in the Majors last year has also been the most valuable pitch since the beginning of 2015 (especially when you consider the rise of Noah Syndergaard’s new mid-90s slider). The reigning Cy Young Award winner has two no-hitters under his belt during that time, and his sweeping slider has been his primary punch-out pitch.

Last year, hitters held a slash line of .184/.236/.272 against Arrieta’s slider. This season, they’re batting a meager .037/.103/.148 against it. If the Cubs are to break their long-standing World Series curse in 2016, it’ll likely be because Arrieta casts a spell over opponents with two of the nastiest pitches the sport has ever seen.

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