Every year I like to look at the pitch values given by PitchF/X. There are lots of ways to look at how valuable pitchers are (or aren't). There is WAR, FIP, and a few others that are in vogue for finding such value. But I like pitch value because it tells you what pitchers use and how successful they are at using it. I like using PitchF/X instead of Fangraphs pitch value data because PitchF/X breaks out the fastballs by type such as four-seam, two-seam and sinkers.
So what I've done is found the 85 starting pitchers who qualified with enough innings pitched. I then exported their PitchF/X pitch value to a spreadsheet. And then I added up the value given to each pitcher's total value for all pitches he throws. For example, Zack Greinke received 10.9 runs above average for his four-seam fastball, 6 for his two-seam, -2.4 for his cutter, 0.9 for his slider, 2 for his curve and -0.4 for his change-up. Add them all together and his pitches were worth 17 runs above average. That was good for 17th best among the 85 starters.
The single most valuable pitch in baseball in 2012 was R.A. Dickey's knuckleball. That makes sense for a couple of reasons. For one, he throws it all the time with only a few fastballs and curves once in a while. And while that pitch was the most valuable, he came in fourth overall among the 85 starters.
The single worst pitch of 2012 was Ervin Santana's four-seam fastball which had a value of -29.3. Wow! That's awful. But his slider was worth 11 among other pitches, so he only finished tenth worst in total value for the season.
Here are the ten least valuable pitchers based on pitch value.
- Ivan Nova: -26. Everything he threw ended up in the batter's sweet spot.
- Ricky Romero: -25.4
- Bruce Chen: -22.7
- Jeremy Guthrie: -22.1
- Ubaldo Jimenez: -21.9
- Luke Hochevar: -20.2
- Tommy Hanson: -19.7
- Rick Porcello: -18.7 -17.8 on his slider!
- Henderson Alvarez: -17.8
- Ervin Santana: -15.9
It must give heartburn to Royals fans that three of their pitchers were in there. I would think that most of Jeremy Guthrie's problems came from his time in Colorado.
The ten highest rated pitchers based on pitch value:
- Clayton Kershaw: 40.8 26 on just his two-seam fastball alone!
- Justin Verlander: 37.4 Had a positive value on every pitch he threw.
- David Price: 36.3
- R.A. Dickey: 34.7
- Gio Gonzalez: 33.9
- Felix Hernandez: 31.3
- Jered Weaver: 29.9
- Matt Cain: 26.5
- Chris Sale: 24.7 positive numbers on all his pitches.
- Johnny Cueto: 21.1
By the way, I don't expect this to be the standard way of looking at pitcher value. I just like this as an alternative in an attempt to get a well-rounded look at each pitcher. The spreadsheet I used is below if you want to see the numbers. You can click on it to see it better. Tomorrow, I'll look at the relievers.