The Top Pitches in the MLB in 2022

With all the advancements in technology we’ve seen in the past few years, pitchers are able to optimize their spin rates and mechanics to throw some of the nastiest pitches we’ve ever seen. When we see video clips seemingly every week of a pitcher making a batter look like a tee-ball player, it’s easy to wonder what the most effective pitches are, and who throws them. Could it be Adam Ottavino’s frisbee slider? Or perhaps Jordan Hicks’ 103 MPH Sinker? Looking at the numbers, here are some of the most effective pitches in the MLB this year.

Fastball

Starting off with the good ol’ fastball, there are plenty of factors that make a fastball better than others. Spin rate can make a fastball feel like it’s coming faster than it really is, as well as introduce some run to the pitch. Velocity also plays a lot into how effective someone’s fastball is. Last year, Carlos Rodón had the lowest run value on his fastball with -26. Freddy Peralta, however, held opponents to just a .156 batting average on his four-seamer. This year, for pitchers with a minimum of 50 plate appearances using the pitch, Justin Verlander has a -10 run value for his fastball. Alexis Diaz has done the best at limiting base hits with his fastball out of the Reds ‘pen, as opponents are hitting just .100 against it. Diaz also has the lowest hard hit % on the fastball, with 25%. Pirates reliever David Bednar gets a swing-and-miss on his fastball 38% of the time, which is best in the league. One name is at the top or near the top of the leaderboards of these stats on baseball savant, and that’s Alexis Diaz, who so far has the best fastball of 2022.

Changeup

In 2022, the only pitch that more pitchers have in their arsenal than a changeup, is the fastball. For pitchers with a minimum of 25 plate appearances using the pitch, the Padres’ Nabil Crismatt and Rays’ Jeffrey Springs are tied for the league lead with a -7 run value on their change. Nobody in the league has managed to get a hit off of Garrett Whitlock’s changeup, as his opponent’s batting average sits at .000. Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff has been the most effective at getting swings and misses on his changeup, as he is currently at a 59.4 Whiff%. Trevor Richards of the Blue Jays and Lucas Giolito of the White Sox are tied for the league lead in Hard Hit % with 7.1. For the changeup, it’s hard to determine who has the best overall, but Nabil Crismatt is the best at limiting hits and runs. However, when it comes to inducing soft contact and getting strikeouts with the changeup, Lucas Giolito is the best.

Sinker

The primary use of a sinker used to be to get a player to hit the ball on the ground and try to get a ground out or double play. However, recently more and more pitchers are using it to get strikes and strikeouts. For pitchers with a minimum 25 plate appearances using the sinker, Yankees reliever Clay Holmes has the best run value, with a -7. Josh Hader has been the best at limiting hits, as opponents are hitting just .036 against his sinker. Phillies reliever Jeurys Familia has the highest Whiff%, but opponents are hitting .300 of the sinker. Unsurprisingly, Brusdar Graterol’s 100+ MPH sinker has the lowest Hard Hit % at 18.2. However, the results of the pitch say that Clay Holmes has the best sinker of 2022 so far, as he is the best at limiting hits and runs.

Curveball

The curveball is a pitch that many use to throw out of the zone and get swings and misses. However, it seems that recently, some pitchers use their curveball a lot more in the zone. Jordan Montgomery of the Yankees is a good example of this. He uses his curveball to get strikes when he’s behind in counts, and to get chases when he’s ahead. As for the pitcher with the best run value on their curveball this season, that honor goes to 2021 NL CY Young Award winner Corbin Burnes with a -6. The Royals’ Scott Barlow has a .074 opponent batting average on his curve, but it’s important to note that Burnes’ is .001 point higher. The aforementioned Jordan Montgomery is the best at getting batters to swing and miss, as his curveball’s Whiff% is 46.6. Once again, though, Burnes is right behind him with 46.5%. The pitcher who limits hard hits against his curveball the most? Corbin Burnes with a Hard Hit % of just 14.3. Seeing as Burnes was either the best or a close second best for each category, it’s pretty obvious that Corbin Burnes has the best curveball of 2022.

Slider

Much like the curveball, the slider is a pitch that has taken on a new versatility. It can be used to throw out of the zone, backdoored in the zone, frontdoored in the zone, or just thrown in the zone to get a strike. Chad Kuhl’s -13 run value on his slider is the best in the MLB in 2022 by four runs. The Athletics’ Sam Moll hasn’t given up a hit on the slider yet this year, although his Whiff%  and Hard Hit % aren’t near the top of the league. Andrés Muñoz of the Seattle Mariners has the highest Whiff% on his slider, as he gets batters to swing and miss 51.5% of the time. The lowest Hard Hit% once again goes to Muñoz, who owns 0.0% in that category. Seeing as his run value and opponent batting average is good too, Muñoz has the best slider of 2022 so far.

Cutter

Almost a hybrid between a slider and a fastball, the cutter is not a pitch that every pitcher has in his arsenal. Perhaps the best to ever throw a cutter was the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera. He threw that pitch almost exclusively and batters could still barely hit it. However, Mo retired in 2013 so who has the best cutter in 2022? To start off Corbin Burnes is back with the league lead in run value on his cutter, which is currently -8. The Diamondbacks’ Zac Gallen has the lowest opponent batting average, as his number is .087, the only pitcher under .100. Luis Garcia has the highest Whiff%. The Astros pitcher has gotten batters to swing and miss at his cutter 55.1% of the time. Justin Bruihl is the best at limiting hard contact so far,with a Hard Hit% of 10.0. Corbin Burnes is high on the list for most of these categories, although his Hard Hit% is really high, one of the highest in the league. However, since he does excel at getting outs, he does have the best cutter of 2022 so far.

Splitter

Thus far, Kevin Gausman has the best splitter in the MLB. It is the least thrown pitch out of all the pitches covered here. Gausman’s run value is -8, tied for the best in the league. Opponents are only hitting .136 off of it, fourth best in the league. He’s also fourth in the league for Whiff%, with a 43.3. Lastly, he is the best in the league at limiting hard contact on his splitter, as his Hard Hit% is 14.0. Gausman is enjoying some success for his new team, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the splitter is a big part of that.

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