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The best pitches of the Yankees 2014 season

In a season of very good pitching, who had the most valuable pitches?

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

In the past couple of seasons, we've grown accustomed to excellent pitching coming out of both the Yankees' rotation and bullpen. In 2014, the team had an ERA- of 95 and a FIP- of 94 (and an xFIP- of 91, if that's your cup of tea), good for one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Every staff, in essence, is the sum of its parts; and one could also say that the sum of its parts are the sum of those parts. To put it simply, good staffs are made up of a good pitchers, and good pitchers are composed of good pitches. And to no one's surprise, this group has a bunch of really good pitches. I consider the best pitches to have the highest wValue/100 (min. 50 IP), so the best pitches on average. Let's take a look at them:

Fastball: Dellin Betances (1.48 wFB/C)

I was initially surprised by this one, and then not at all. When I first think of Dellin Betances I think of the dynamite curveball, but then I realized, "Oh yeah, that's right... he can also throw 100 mph". Betances threw his fastball 52.6% of the time, and had an average velocity of 96.7 mph, with a maximum of 100.4. Opposing hitters actually didn't hit horribly against it, a decent .229/.308/.329 (95 wRC+), but I would assume that's because this pitch was a set up for his curveball. But when he needed to, he could use the fastball to blow you away. In the best case study of this, here's his amazing appearance against Miguel Cabrera back on August 5th:


One of the best hitters in baseball swung right threw it. And if the opposing hitter is thinking there is the possibility of a curveball coming, it makes 100 mph seem even faster.

Slider: Masahiro Tanaka (2.49 wSL/C)

I was also kind of surprised by this one. If you're playing a word association game, "Masahiro Tanaka" first evokes "splitter", and not slider, yet there it is atop the rankings. He actually utilized the pitch just a shade less than his splitter at 22% of the time, and it was certainly effective enough that he could mix it into counts to keep hitters off-balance. Opposing hitters hit a dreadful .174/.198/.261 (38 wRC+) against the pitch. Here's an example of how much break it has (from way back in Spring Training), courtesy of CBS Sports:


Splitter: Masahiro Tanaka (2.40 wSF/C)

This one doesn't need much explaining. Even before coming stateside many scouts believed Tanaka to have an 80-grade splitter, and I think we can all agree that that's nearly true. This one pitch induced an opposing batting line of 14 wRC+, and hitters also had a SwStr% of 27.4%. And as Jeff Sullivan showed way back in April, the beauty of this offering is that it can easily be thrown in the dirt,


or on the lower half for maximum confusion:


And with pinpoint command, there's just no way to hit this pitch effectively.

Curveball: Dellin Betances (2.52 wCU/C)

I could tell you that opposing hitters hit .075/.122/.124 (-21 wRC+) against Dellin Betances' curveball and that it was arguably the best pitch this year, or I could just show you the .GIF's. Well, here they are:


(courtesy of FanGraphs)


(courtesy of the since-deceased PitcherGIFs)


(courtesy of MLBAM)

It may be a long offseason, but at least we can put these pitches on loop until we get a new batch come this spring.