Courtesy of my good friend Steve Moyer and his crack staff at Baseball Info Solutions, I bring you data that might as well come gift-wrapped from under a tree. End the idle speculation. Here we have actual results to back up our claims for who is the best and worst in New York not just at throwing the various pitches, but hitting them too.
Alas, nothing is perfect. The batter splits tell us how batters do on the various pitches when they make contact. But if a batter, say, Wily Mo Pena, can't, say, hit a curve ball, you're not factoring all those misses. You're only seeing the result when he actually makes contact or strikes out.
My sense is that the pitching splits are more reliable indicators for who really is best and worst in these various splits. And looking at the results in comparison to the results from last year that I noted in a Spring Training piece, it does seem that performance from one year to the next is more consistent with the pitchers than the hitters. For example, Cleveland's Grady Sizemore was among the worst last year at hitting the curveball. This year, he's third behind Milwaukee's Prince Fielder and Cincy's Brandon Phillips.
So let's start with the local pitchers. First note that relievers are not included on lists for best batting average plus slugging (BPS) versus the fastball. However, they are included for the various breaking and off-speed pitches if they meet much lower requirements for the number of batters faced. Finally, all stats are through July 31.
The best fastball in New York this year and third best in all of baseball (behind Chris Young and Scot Shields) belongs to Orlando Hernandez, who holds batters to a .522 BPS on that pitch. Right behind him in fourth place is John Maine at .547. In that winter column, I expressed cautious optimism that Maine's similar success last year with that pitch would be repeatable and make him a top-of-the-rotation starter. It has been, and he is.
Oliver Perez and Chien-Ming Wang are a respectable 17th and 24th in fastball effectiveness. The worst fastball this year locally is Mike Mussina's (.871 BPS against); Tom Glavine is the worst of the Mets regular starters (.821).
The curveball splits were most interesting in that I could only find one local pitcher on the list. When you think about it, the curveball is not often thrown by the locals. El Duque does show that circus curve at times. But his other breaking pitches are tighter sliders. That one pitcher, by the way, is Mussina, and his curve is 23rd best (.621 BPS against).
A local pitcher is right behind Minnesota's Johan Santana for sixth place in the best changeup category. I was surprised to see that it's Guillermo Mota (.406), only because he's having a bad year (maybe he needs to throw more changeups).
Andy Pettitte is the best Yankee at deception, with a .528 BPS allowed on his change. Maine has the worst change in New York (59th in baseball at .778).
The best slider in all of baseball by a country mile (at least this year) is thrown by the Mets' Pedro Feliciano, who allows an almost comical .089 BPS on that pitch. Kyle Farnsworth is fifth best at .256, but he's now going to be throwing that pitch in mop-up duty as he's stuck in Joe Torre's doghouse. The worst slider in New York (and seventh worst in all of baseball) was thrown by Kei Igawa, who now hangs them in Scranton.
Let's quickly transition to the hitters. But remember the caveats as these numbers really don't seem to be very repeatable from year-to-year, at least not when compared to the pitching splits.
The best fastball hitter in New York and fourth best overall is Alex Rodriguez at 1.08. Jorge Posada is 16th (.980). David Wright leads the Mets at .959. The worst at redirecting heat has been Bobby Abreu (194th among 210 qualifiers at .610). The worst Met fastball hitter is, no surprise, Shawn Green (.713).
No one is distinguishing themselves locally on curveballs. Carlos Beltran gets the nod at a meager .659. Fielder is double that against the deuce. The best Yankee is Abreu (.563). The worst locally at hitting the curve is Carlos Delgado (.436).
The best changeup hitter has been Jose Valentin (.883 BPS). His replacement, Luis Castillo, registers a .350 BPS when that pitch results in a hit or out. Robinson Cano is right behind Valentin at .863. Again putting this into context, Boston's Mike Lowell is the best changeup hitter in baseball with a 1.213 BPS.
Dodger trade import Wilson Betemit seems like he can best handle the slider (1.046 BPS). Jose Reyes is also money versus the pitch, .977, with Melky Cabrera (.931) and Abreu (.845) not far behind. The best slider hitter in baseball is Baltimore's Brian Roberts with a 1.312 BPS versus that pitch. But that number doesn't make sense (Roberts is far from a power hitter), so the sample size of times Roberts has put a slider in play likely is very small.