Breaking Down the Top MLB Hitters By Pitch Type
Growing up on and around baseball fields, I remember hearing coaches and fans discuss how important it was to throw good off-speed and breaking stuff to bigger hitters. The reasoning? For those muscular types, fastballs were meat 'n potatoes.
As I got older, I watched players work their way out of that tight comfort zone. A stagnant curveball, for instance, was suddenly as meaty as a belt-high fastball and, as such, was sprayed to the gaps (and beyond) with ease. And suddenly, it wasn't just the big guys -- every above-average hitter, be they small, medium or large in build, could destroy a hook. Or a slider. Or a change-up. Or a cutter.
This all begs the question, wouldn't it be helpful to know which hitter destroys what type of pitch? Yeah, it would.
Well, today, we can, thanks to cool databases like Statcast. One of these big numbers repositories belongs to FanGraphs, who track pitch type data for hitters (and, for that matter, pitchers). Based on linear weights, which take into account pitch and count, they contain detailed information on total runs produced by pitch (wFB, wCB, etc.) and standardized runs by pitch (wFB/C, wCB/C, etc.).
For the purposes of this list, we used the standardized version because, in taking the values over a per 100 pitch basis, it helps to account for disparity of volume from hitter to hitter. In other words, certain hitters happen to see a lot more of one pitch than another does. After all is said and done, we get an average amount of runs produced against 100 fastballs, 100 curves, and so on.
With all that in mind, here are the hitters doing the most damage to fastballs, sliders, curveballs, changeups and cutters.