If you've ever owned an MLB video game, you have probably used the "Create Player" function to create an unbeatable pitcher. Stamina and Control both set to 99, a 103 mph fastball, a 98 mph cutter and sinker, and maybe some obscure pitch like a screwball for good measure. I tried imagining a pitcher like that using only pitches that are thrown by players on the Yankees' 2015 roster. Without further ado, here is what I pictured a Super Yankee looking like:
Fastball: Justin Wilson
Not giving the Yankees' best fastball honors to Dellin Betances was tough. But where Dealin' Dellin slightly edges Wilson when it comes to fastball velocity, Wilson responds with better movement. Wilson's fastball averaged over 96 mph in 2014, while averaging over 11 inches of vertical movement, good enough to be considered a rising fastball. A rising fastball with velocity is rare enough as it is, adding five inches of horizontal movement puts his fastball in a very rare category. Of course, for the sake of this post, try to imagine this fastball coming from a right-handed pitcher:
Sinker: Ivan Nova
It looked like Ivan Nova was finally putting it all together in 2013, and his new two-seamer was a big part of the reason why. At an average of about 93.5 mph in 2013, Nova's two-seamer should get a decent amount of whiffs just off speed alone, while boasting enough late movement to generate a lot of groundballs:
Secondary Pitch #1: Dellin Betances (Knuckle Curve)
The short explanation of how good Betances's knuckle curve is can be found on Baseball America's Best Tools of 2014 list. The pitch is nasty by itself and downright filthy when following a fastball in the mid to upper 90's. Just look at the stats: a whiff/swing rate of over 50%, with an extra 26% foul/swing ratio. That means hitters put Betances's curve in play less than a quarter of the time. As if that isn't enough, more than half of those balls in play were grounders. There is a very good reason why his curve is considered by many to be the best in baseball.
Secondary Pitch #2: Masahiro Tanaka (Splitter)
Yet another offering that is considered the best of its kind. Tanaka's splitter is downright unfair to both lefties and righties, with hitters putting up a .153 AVG and a .205 SLG against it in 2014. He actually threw it more than his fastball last season, so there is no way Tanaka's splitter is only good because it is unfamiliar to hitters.
Both Andrew Miller and Michael Pineda have very good sliders. However, Miller's sidearm delivery kind of constitutes cheating in my opinion. Seriously, almost every sidearm pitcher has a good slider, as they generally rely on getting insane amounts of horizontal movement. Pineda's slider has a lot more vertical drop than lateral movement, which makes it a very potent offering, as it gives him the chance to really paint the outer half of the zone vs. righties. Pineda has shown that his command is a lot better than Dellin's, so it is possible that he might one up the possible Yankee closer.
Let me know in the comments section if I left any other plus pitches out.
Data is from Brooks Baseball. GIF footage is property of Major League Baseball.