It's time for a look at 2011 whiff rates. Granted, it's still pretty early, but it's confidence-inspiring that many of the names on the lists below are well-established bat-missers. And there are the surprises, which are really fun. Anyway, I will split these up by pitch type - the league averages are from Harry Pavlidis's recently updated article on pitch type benchmarks. I'm lumping into two different groups with different sample-sizes, one to highlight starters and the other to highlight relievers (but there is some inter-mingling). Also note the larger swing minimum for fastballs. Enough talking; let's go!
.297 whiff rate
No tables for cutters (.214 average) and splitters (.324) due to classification issues/not enough pitchers throwing them consistently. Jeff Samardzija (.391) and Chris Carpenter (.358) have the best cutter whiff rates of the two groups. For splitters, Koji Uehara (.418) and Jonathan Sanchez (.384) top the lists.
A few things that I found interesting:
- Once again, Cole Hamels's changeup is the best pitch from a qualified starter. Last year, it led the league with a rate of 48%.
- Despite not having overwhelming velocity, Tyler Clippard is back to his fastball dominance from last year. His changeup is also great at missing bats (.367), so he's basically a strikeout demon any way you look at it.
- Speaking of dominant fastballs, uh, Vinnie Pestano! That's not a misprint - Pestano's four-seam fastball (he also throws a heavy sinker) has been thrown 78 times, and batters have missed on 40 of those swings. Just to outline how ridiculous this number is for a fastball, I kept lowering the minimum number of swings and didn't find another rate as high as 40% until I had reached 15 swings (that number belonged to Mike Adams as of Sunday's games).
- Mat Latos is struggling somewhat this season, but his slider is better than it was last year (43%).