by Rob Friedman, aka “Pitching Ninja”
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
Last week we focused on Competitors in the National Cy Young . League. Now let’s take a look at the MLS race, which has been swinging back and forth for most of the season, with Shane McClanahanAnd the stop dylan And the Justin Verlander making their cases.
All of them have done brilliantly this year, but there is one bowler who has walked away from the pack and established himself as the front-runner.
1. Ponce de Leon doesn’t have anything about Justin Verlander.
At 39, in his 17th season and out of Tommy John surgery, Verlander should be at the end of his career. Verlander, emphasizing on his first ballot, was one of the most dominant bowlers of his generation, but most of the baseball world wondered if he could come back and be anywhere near the same bowler he was before he was hit.
Instead of fading out, Verlander is probably the best of his career on the hill. He leads the major leagues with a 1.78 ERA, the lowest of any bowler in the MLS with at least 157 innings since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 ERA in 2000 (widely considered one of the most dominant seasons by a bowler in major league history).
Relying mostly on the still-dominant fast ball as well as the wicked slider and hammer ball, Verlander has three courts that each have a batting average of less than 0.200.
For a supposedly “old” shooter, Verlander’s fastball is still a weapon. In fact, his heater, still touching 99 miles per hour, ranks as the most valuable fastball in baseball by running value.
Verlander’s passer has a 35% sniff rate which is an important part of his arsenal given how well he works off the high speed ball. This overlay shows how difficult this combination is for hitters.
Finally, because Verlander likes to throw the fastball in the zone, hitters should also respect his curve ball, which starts out looking like a high speedball but can fall into the zone due to its massive break of 12-6.
This great pitches arsenal, combined with Verlander’s brilliant strategic mind and vast experience, creates an elite pitcher who can attack hitters in many ways which is unfair to them. He can surgically dissect hitters with his sheer command or simply beat them – either way, he’ll beat them because most of all, Verlander loves to compete and win.
2. Dylan Sis is the author of a true masterpiece.
Cease is baseball’s most valuable pitch: a nearly unbeatable slide. His slider is so integral to his playground arsenal that he even wrote a poem about it, “O’ Slider Slide.”
The Cease slider has a staggering 45.1% sniff rate this season, and he throws it nearly 43% of the time — even more than his electric fastball, which averages around 97 mph and can touch 100.
The Cease slider is simply evil:
When you combine this fierce slider with the fastball of a ’90s Cease top pick, you feel sorry for the hitters.
Cease’s knuckle bend is also an important part of his arsenal, and he can use it to “dig” high speed balls, even fast balls that end far out of the area. This causes hitters to sometimes succumb to the bend of the joint because it looks like a ball out of reach and then drops sharply into the strike zone.
The stop can also work in an absurdly slow shift that’s 20 mph or slower than a fastball. Talk about getting the hitters on top!
Here’s Cease’s changing fist and his cat’s appearance.
3. Shane McClanahan can draw with the best of them.
McClanahan has had a breakout season for rays. Sugar Shane has a 2.13 ERA and is second in baseball in WHIP at 0.86, behind only Verlander.
McClanahan has a powerful fastball touching 100 mph, but he’s not just a pitcher. It can paint perfectly with heater.
Not only does McClanahan throw diesels, but with his hammer curve ball (.142 hitting average), fierce slider (46.4% whiff rate) and baffling change (45.7% sniff rate), he has one of the most dominant pitch arsenals in all of baseball.
Bad McClanahan Curve:
McClanahan’s nice change:
Here’s an overlay to show how McClanahan’s slider and change work together to humiliate hitters.
Sugar Shin also has the ability to KO his opponents, like another “Sugar Shin”:
4. Fantastic Framber is the new definition of quality.
constantly dominant, Framber Valdez He just set the major league record with his 25th consecutive good start.
Framber’s curve ball is one of the keys to his success. It is one of the best curves in the game; The hitters only hit .147 against him with a 45% whiff rate this season.
It’s a stadium that can totally embarrass hitters.
That curve ball is the main reason why Valdes reached 16-5 this year with a 2.57 ERA.
Shuhei Ohtani It is a class of its own.
Ohtani is a unicorn, and it is fitting to be in a class on his own. He leads the top hits all-nine innings among the qualified starters at 11.9k/9 and has amazing stuff on the bump.
Ohtani’s splitter remains one of the most unbeatable pitches in baseball, with a whiff rate of 49.1%. You can see what makes this pitch so challenging when combined with the 90s/100mph fastball.
The Shohei slider is the second most valuable pitch in baseball (behind the Cease slider) and has video game-like movement, averaging over 85 mph with approximately 14 inches of horizontal break.
And let’s not forget Shohei’s brilliant new game, Turbo Diver somehow added it mid-season. It’s so dirty that everything Jose Altove All she could do is laugh at how unfair it was.
So it’s no surprise that Ohtani wins my Twitter poll with the dirtiest stuff:
Rob Friedman is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and his work has appeared on several Major League Baseball programs. Follow him on Twitter @ninja.
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