In a sport, every position is important and needed in order for the whole team to succeed. Although all positions are crucial, a pitcher may be the most important in baseball. In terms of skills and abilities, the pitcher would be the toughest position to do without on any given day. A strong outfielder could throw the ball over the plate at a high velocity, but that solution wouldn’t last long. Pitchers have the greatest influence on the outcome of the game, often pitching six or seven innings. A strong pitcher will have an outstanding pitching velocity, meaning at least 90 mph since that’s the current cutoff.
Another important quality to have is consistency, it isn’t enough to pitch 90 mph once, as well as watching and studying the hitter. Velocity is a great thing, knowing your hitter is good, and consistency is even better, but add command/control to these and you’d have the perfect pitcher. Having these four traits will only make you become better and better. Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Jake Arrieta, and Zack Greinke are the top four players with these qualities and have made it far in their careers.
The Four Best Pitchers And How They Earned The Label There are certainly many other pitchers who are great that were ot chosen as one of the best four. Johnny Cueto is a pitcher for the Giants and pitches an average speed, which is about 95 mph. According to ESPN, from 2011-2014, Cueto put up an ERA of 2. 48 while averaging a qualifying number of innings per season, although last season, his performance degraded as the season continued (Townsend, 2016. ) Could it have been the trade to Kansas City? An injury? Age related? Each is possible, of course. Stephen Strasburg, pitcher for the Nationals, can throw amazing curveballs and pitches at 102 mph.
As stated in the baseball reference website, this is a pitcher who’s still just 27 and boasts a career ERA of 126 while striking out 10. 4 batters per nine innings (Kneeland, 2016. ) However, at times he’s had arm troubles at various points. Clayton Kershaw, pitcher for the Dodgers is ranked number one for best pitcher. Mentioned in the San Diego Union-Tribune, over the last half decade, Kershaw has won three Cy Youngs, finished runner-up one other time, and finished third in his “worst” season (Pleskoff, 2016. ) He has command of four-plus pitches, and in the 2015 season he struck out 301 batters.
Only once in his seven qualifying seasons has he failed to make at least 30 starts. Although Kershaw throws many kinds of pitches, he has mainly relied on his fastball at 93 mph, his slider at 88 mph, and his curve at 74 mph. He also sometimes throws a change pitch at 89 mph and a slow curve at 47 mph. There was once a time when he threw a no hitter and struck out 15 Colorado Rockies. As mentioned in an article on ESPN, that kind of consistency is certainly most valuable and the Dodgers this year have been able to make money off of this (Hernandez, 2016). That can tend to boost a team’s confidence.
His value is also boosted by the fact that the team’s only other candidate who stands a remote chance of entering the MVP discussion, Yasiel Puig, has been so wildly inconsistent. Heading into his age, 28, Kershaw should still be able to keep this up and pitch at these same levels. David Price is a $200 million pitcher on the Red Sox team. In the 2014 season, Price pitched more innings than any pitcher in the major leagues. As stated in an article on the MLB website, he is fifth in the American league in strikeouts per nine innings and he ranks third in the league in walk ratio (Rapp, 2016. Simply put, he is one of the best pitchers in the game of baseball. He throws two fastballs at 94-97 mph, close to 100 mph. His two-seam sinker is his main pitch against right-handed and left-handed hitters. He also throws a cutter that averages 90 mph, used mainly against righthanders.
He also uses a changeup against right-handed hitters and a spike curveball at 78-81 mph. Price is not only leading the league in innings pitched this season, but averaging over 200 innings in the past four seasons. In the past five years, including this season, he has never had an ERA higher than 3. 9 and has been among the American league’s elite every season. Price, now 30, is a five-time All-Star. Jake Arrieta struggled to get his footing in the big leagues. In fact, you could argue he was one of the worst pitchers in baseball. His 5. 33 ERA over the first three seasons of his career was the fourth highest among pitchers qualifying for the ERA title. Since joining the Cubs mid season trade in 2013, Arrieta has an ERA of 2. 17. Arrieta throws a sinker at 95 mph, a slider at 90 mph, and a curve at 81 mph.
According to an article on the MLB website, his 2015 resume lists a 1. 9 ERA, 19 wins, and the third-most wins above replacement in the league (Verducci, 2016. ) He was one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball, but how he became one isn’t the usual story. Instead, it’s the story of a guy who kept changing the way he threw a baseball until everything started to click into place. Zack Greinke pitches for the Diamondbacks. He relies primarily on his fourseam fastball at 92 mph, change pitch at 89 mph, and his slider at 86 mph. He also throws curves at 76 mph, slow curves at 69 mph, and sinkers at 92 mph. Greinke might be the perfect pitcher for baseball’s era of big data.
There are other pitchers who study hitters closely, looking through statistics and video clips for strengths and weaknesses, but few of them can match that understanding with the precision Greinke uses to turn game theory into results. Greinke’s 1. 66 ERA this season was the lowest by a pitcher since 1995. As mentioned in the baseball reference page, infield positioning is essential to his job (Cook, 2016. ) It’s part of the riddle he tries to solve for every hitter – Which combination of pitch type, location, and defensive alignment will result in the highest probability of an out?
Every great pitcher possesses certain skills that make them so great. They are velocity, studying your hitter, consistency, and command/control. These abilities are also things that MLB scouts look for. The more of these skills a pitcher has, the better they will generally be. The qualities that these four pitchers have are what makes them the four best pitchers. No, they aren’t the only ones with these qualities, but they are the ones who exceed in them and understand these skills the best. Kershaw, Price, Arrieta, and Greinke have clearly worked their way to be voted as the top four pitchers in baseball.