MLB Best Pitches.

MLB's Best Pitches: Valdez's Sinker Is League's Best Delivery

Sorry batters, but pitchers just keep getting better and better.

This year, MLB's top Cy Young candidate pitchers are throwing harder, spinning the ball more, and inventing new pitches to challenge hitters with (what even is a sweeper??). Even an average fastball these days is tough to hit, and the best deliveries in baseball are basically impossible to touch.

Here are the top five pitches in Major League Baseball right now:

5. Jhoan Duran's Splinker

Jhoan Duran is a freak. He's got Aroldis Chapman's fastball and Kevin Gausman's splitter rolled into one pitch: the splinker. It ranks out as the league's most valuable throw on a per-pitch basis, garnering an absurd .071 opponent average. In 104 throws this year, no batter has notched a extra-base hit against the pitch.

4. Andrew Vasquez's Slider

Most pitchers' best weapons flourish because secondary offerings help set it up. But Philly reliever Andrew Vasquez doesn't need any secondary stuff. Vasquez throws his slider, and that's about it, hucking the pitch over 80% of the time right now.

His slider grades out as the fifth-most valuable pitch in MLB right now, earning a -12 run value grade from Baseball Savant. It's surprisingly not generating much swing and miss, but opponents just can't square it up, hitting an expected average of .164 against his primary weapon.

Tossing almost only sliders this year, Vasquez has a 1.26 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched, finishing nine games for the reigning NL Champion Phillies in 2023.

“It became my backbone,” Vasquez told the Philly Inquirer. “I was struggling with command. I just started throwing the slider more and it went from there."

3. Yennier Cano's Sinker

The Orioles have taken that next step in 2023, pushing the Rays for the AL East crown. Much of Baltimore's progression this year has come on the back of prospect development, but breakout stories like Yennier Cano help, too.

Cano relies solely on a sinker/change mix, throwing his primary heater 60% of the time. The 29-year-old's sinker grades out as MLB's second most valuable pitch this year by Savant's run value, with opponents posting a minuscule .167 average and .250 slug against the pitch.

2. Charlie Morton's Curveball

The only curveball on the list, Chuck Morton's big bender has been a staple on top pitch lists for the last few seasons.

Since 2020, the curve has become Morton's primary pitch, and his usage is at a new high in 2023 (46.3%). The key for the 39-year-old is elite spin, as he ranks out in the 97th percentile in curve spin this year. The spin creates shape and movement on Morton's curve that MLB hitters just can't keep up with, as they whiff an outrageous 42% on the bender (second in MLB to Gausman's splitter).

"You can’t get ahold of [Morton's curve],” Braves manager Brian Snitker told The Athletic. “It’s so big, you can’t hit it."

1. Framber Valdez's Sinker

Most of these top pitches are on the list because opposing hitters can't even make contact with them, whiffing at absurd rates. But, Framber Valdez's sinker is a little different.

Opposing hitters whiff 'just' 13.9% of the time on Valdez's primary pitch and strike out only 13.4% of the time against it. But, it still ranks out as Baseball Savant's most valuable pitch this year (-14 runs) because his sinker is a ground-ball magnet.

Throwing the pitch almost half the time in 2023, Valdez has induced the most ground ball outs in the American League this year (100). Last year, finishing top-five in AL Cy Young voting, Valdez had 50 more groundouts than any other pitcher in baseball.

When Valdez is on the mound, you know it'll be a busy day for Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena behind him. Aa long as the Astros infielders remembered their gloves, Valdez's sinker is MLB's best pitch.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Ryan's Fastball, Erik Swanson's Splitter, Zac Gallen's Fastball

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