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Baseball's Best Strikeout Pitches

There were 52 pitchers in the MLB who tallied 150+ strikeouts during the 2013 season.  Yu Darvish led the way in his second Major League season with 277 punchouts.  Cole Hamels, Matt Harvey and Julio Teheran got batters to swing at over 50% of their pitches!  Harvey would make 12.5% of those a swing and a miss!  Only Francisco Liriano and Darvish made more bats miss!

Yu DarvishRangers277
Max ScherzerTigers240
Clayton KershawDodgers232
Chris SaleWhite Sox226
Cliff LeePhillies222
Adam WainwrightCardinals219
Justin VerlanderTigers217
Felix HernandezMariners216
Jeff SamardzijaCubs214
A.J. BurnettPirates209
Anibal SanchezTigers202
Cole HamelsPhillies202
Homer BaileyReds199
Madison BumgarnerGiants199
Lance LynnCardinals198
James ShieldsRoyals196
Justin MastersonIndians195
Ubaldo JimenezIndians194
Tim LincecumGiants193
Gio GonzalezNationals192
Matt HarveyMets191
Stephen StrasburgNationals191
Derek HollandRangers189
C.J. WilsonAngels188
Jose FernandezMarlins187
Mat LatosReds187
Hisashi IwakumaMariners185
Mike MinorBraves181
Chris TillmanOrioles179
Patrick CorbinDiamondbacks178
Jon LesterRed Sox177
R.A. DickeyBlue Jays177
CC SabathiaYankees175
A.J. GriffinAthletics171
Julio TeheranBraves170
Shelby MillerCardinals169
Ricky NolascoMarlins/Dodgers165
Jose QuintanaWhite Sox164
Francisco LirianoPirates163
Ian KennedyDiamondbacks/Padres163
Scott KazmirIndians162
Ervin SantanaRoyals161
John LackeyRed Sox161
Jordan ZimmermannNationals161
Doug FisterTigers159
Matt CainGiants158
Kris MedlenBraves157
Ryan DempsterRed Sox157
Hyun-Jin RyuDodgers154
Dan HarenNationals151
David PriceRays151
Hiroki KurodaYankees150


    Click to see Harvey's fastball in action
  • Of the 52 pitchers who struck out at least 150 batters, 40 of them used their fastball 50-73% of the time
    • Justin Masterson, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller went this pitch 70+% of the time
  • Matt Harvey averaged a 96 mph heater to lead all league leaders in punchouts
    • Stephen Strasburg was the only other to average over 95 mph
  • Doug Fister, A.J. Griffin, Kris Medlen, Ryan Dempster and Hisashi Iwakuma were the only ones to use their fastball 50% or more and average under 90 mph
  • R.A. Dickey threw a fastball just 12% of the time and averaged 81.9 miles per hour on the gun
    • His knuckleball fooled hitters 87% of the time floating around at 75 mph


Click to see Burnett's curveball in action

  • Only Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg, Jose Fernandez, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister threw a curve 20% or more
    • 14 starters mixed it in less than 10%
  • A.J. Griffin's curve clocked in under 70 mph on average
  • Matt Harvey devistated hitters with a 83 mph curve 13.4% of his pitches.


  • James Shields, Cole Hamels and Anibal Sanchez relied on it for 24% of their pitches
    • 18 pitchers used this pitch less than 10% of the time
  • Scott Kazmir, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Derek Holland and Chris Sale had the greatest pitch speed differential between fastball and changeup in the double digits.


    Click to see Sale's slider in action
  • Ervin Santana, John Lackey, Yu Darvish, Francisco Liriano and Madison Bumgarner were the only guys to use it at least 30% of the time
    • They averaged anywhere from 81-88 mph
  • Matt Harvey threw the hardest slider on average at 90mph and used that pitch 18.5% of the time
  • Chris Sale clocked in at just 78.5 mph on his slider and used it to his advantage on 29.6% of his pitches
    • That's after seeing his 93 mph high stinky cheese
  • Patrick Corbin was the only other to throw a slider under 80mph



  • Dan Haren uses the cutter nearly as much as his fastball
  • Adam Wainwright, Jon Lester, James Shields and Cliff Lee went to this pitch more than 20% of the time 


  • 10 pitchers went to the split finger
  • Hisashi Iwakuma and Hiroki Kuroda throw it over 20%