It is one thing to look at a radar gun say that a pitch was good or bad, or to look at location and make the same decision. But it is sometimes difficult to figure out if that pitch is, in fact, good or bad.
Some pitchers can get away with a 95 mph fastball down the middle while another pitcher can throw 95 mph down the middle and get hammered. Lucky for us, Fangraphs has a stat that shows us how good or bad a certain pitcher’s pitch really was.
Using linear weights, they come up with stats called wFB, wCH, wCB, wSL, and wCT. It gives you a number value, positive or negative, based on how well that pitcher did with that certain pitch. They take it one step further and added a value based on 100 pitches, or wFB/C, for instance.
The stat takes into account each and every pitch, pitch count, and result. So, while there may be some luck or un-luck involved, it is a pretty accurate take on how well that pitch faired during that one year. It is, though, not a great tool to use on a predictive basis due to the amount of luck on batted balls.
If you are at all confused just know that Fangraphs found a legitimate way to calculate how good or bad a pitch is and here are the five worst pitches from the 2011 season:
Worst Fastball: This belongs to A.J. Burnett who posted a league worst wFB of -34.0, meaning it was 34 runs below average. His wFB/C was also the worst at -1.90. Simply put, Burnett’s fastball, even though it averaged nearly 93 mph, was downright horrible. Bronson Arroyo gave him a strong run for his money finishing 2nd worst in wFB/C and 3rd worst in cumulative wFB. More on Arroyon in a minute.
Worst Changeup: Not only did Arroyo narrowly miss having the worst fastball but he narrowly missed having the league’s worst change up. He had a league worst -10.6 wCH but he threw so many that his wCH/C was -1.96, not nearly the worst. This belongs to Gavin Floyd who had the 2nd worst wCH/C of -4.80 and 4th worst -6.9 wCH. Floyd, in my opinion, narrowly edged Arroyo for this non-award.
Worst Slider: This one was tough but Bartolo Colon narrowly edges out Jake Westbrook for the worst slider of 2011. Colon finished with the 4th worst wSL/C at -2.70 just behind Westbrook who had a wSL/C of -2.80. They shared almost the exact same rate per 100 pitches. Colon wins for throwing his just-as-poor slider more and had a league worst -8.4 wSL, almost a full run worse than Westbrook’s.
Worst Cutter: Another clear loser here, and the first National League pitcher to take home the misfortune of having one of the worst pitches in the game. Ryan Vogelsong easily owned a league worst -8.0 wCT with the next worst pitcher being Tim Stauffer coming in at -4.9 wCT but he only had a -0.61 wCT/C. It’s hard to use wCT/C for this due to the fact that it is the pitch thrown the fewest but Vogelsong still had a horribad -1.87 wCT/C.