Among the things we didn’t know until reading the column — which I strongly encourage you to read here — is which pitch is the most effective in baseball.
“[A]ccording to FanGraphs, sliders across baseball have been worth 412 runs to pitchers this season. The cutter is the second-best pitch at 109 runs and the changeup third at 24. Fastballs, on the other hand, are responsible for minus-512 runs, curveballs minus-15 and splitters minus-one.”
Passan notes that not only has the slider been a pitcher’s most effective weapon, but the difference between that and the second most effective pitch is drastic. You can check out the most updated FanGraphs leaderboard here.
And wouldn’t you know it, Cubs pitchers (as a collective) have the second most valuable slider in baseball. Checking in with a 39.6 wSL entering Monday’s action, only the Dodgers (41.7) have thrown a more effective slider as a staff. That is high praise, considering the Dodgers have Zack Greinke (16.4, 5th) and Clayton Kershaw (11.6, 8th) representing them in the top 10.
As one would imagine, ranking second means the Cubs have some rather effective sliders, too.
Look no further than Pedro Strop, whose slider (12.5) is the third most effective among relievers. Teammate Hector Rondon’s slider (7.1) ranks as the 11th most effective among qualifying relievers. It is fitting that two of the Cubs most reliable relievers throw the most effective pitch in baseball at an elite level.
That probably does not bode well for hitters as the regular season comes to a close with the postseason on the horizon.
While it was no surprise to see Strop and Rondon near the top of the slider-throwers leaderboard, who would’ve guessed that Jason Hammel’s slider would grade out to a 13.2 wSL? Hammel’s slider is the seventh best among qualifying starters by the standards set by Fangraphs’ pitch values.
It turns out the Cubs are pretty good with baseballs second most valuable pitch — the cutter. As a staff, the Cubs rate as having the fifth best cutter (12.9 wCT) in baseball. Naturally, it is Jake Arrieta (19.5 wCT) who sits atop that leaderboard.
Pitch Values isn’t perfect, but it does provide an informative way of answering how well a pitcher or batter fares when a particular pitch is throw. For more on the subject, the FanGraphs glossary page is quite helpful with its full explanation.