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July 3, 2013

Raising Aces

Stuffing the Ballot: Reliever Edition

by Doug Thorburn


The halfway mark of the season is a natural point to stop and reflect on the remarkable performances of the baseball calendar to date. We reviewed the best stuff among starting pitchers at the quarter-season mark, so let's now turn our attention to the guys who come out of the bullpen.

Relievers’ stuff tends to be even more electric than that of their starting counterparts, given the sprinter-like nature of the job in addition to the fact that a less-varied repertoire is par for the position. With this in mind, we’ll delve into the fastballs and sliders that define the reputations of some of the game's most electric arms. Once again, we kindly ask the readers to add their own opinions to the mix, voting for one hurler from each category to represent the best stuff in baseball for the first half of the 2013 season. Please cast your votes in the comments section. (All stats are through games of July 1.)

The Heat

(minimum 300 fastballs)

Aroldis Chapman

Pitch Count

Frequency

Avg Velo

Whiff/Sw %

HR %

Opp AVG

Opp SLG

514

84.3%

98.1 mph

32.2%

0.58%

.235

.367

It should come as no surprise to see Chapman's name at the top of the list. The lefty with the legendary 105 mph fastball may not be breaking his own record with his raw velocity this season, but his 98.1 mph average fastball is still the tops in baseball, ranking second in the majors behind Kelvin Herrera's 98.4 mph average. That kind of velo is just unfair when it comes from a southpaw, particularly considering Chapman's excellent momentum and resulting extension at release point. His whiff/swing rate also ranks second in the game among pitchers with at least 300 pitches this season, behind only Ernesto Frieri's 33.1 percent mark. Chapman has used the four-seamer 99 percent of the time when he falls behind in the count (including a full 100 percent when behind against right-handers), but his predictability has done little to help opposing hitters to make solid contact.

Chapman’s slider has been even more effective in squelching opposing bats, as he’s yet to allow a hit off the pitch this season. He has registered zero walks in the 27 plate appearances that ended with a slide-piece, with a ridiculous whiff/swing rate of 57.5 percent on the pitch. The only thing keeping Chapman from making multiple appearances on the ballot are that his 95 sliders on the season fall short of the volume necessary for inclusion.

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Related Content:  Pitching,  Relievers,  Stuff

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (07/03)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Raising Aces: A Look a... (06/28)
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Premium Article Raising Aces: How the ... (07/12)
Next Article >>
The Lineup Card: 8 Thi... (07/03)

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