Snell rarely throws his changeup in the zone, and it can be very effective when located properly near the bottom of the zone. It generates a high percentage of ground balls, and thus weak contact. Despite an impressive 20.1% SwStr%, Snell did not utilize this pitch for strikeouts with just a 10.7% K rate. Similar to the curve, increasing the zone rate of the changeup could improve the results against the pitch.
The curveball is Snell’s go-to putaway pitch, with strikeout rates north of 50% every season in the majors. Snell lost two inches of vertical drop on the pitch, which partially explains the 13% drop in strikeout rate. While still an excellent pitch, Snell could benefit by increasing the zone rate of his curve, as it dropped below 30% in 2019.
Snell’s fastball sits right at 96 mph, and he added one inch of arm-side run to the pitch in 2019. Despite a 4.4% increase in SwStr% and 7.3% jump in K%, his wOBA of .311 was identical to 2018. Expect better results in 2020 versus Snell’s fastball if his skills remain intact.
Used mostly as a chase pitch against lefties, Snell’s slider was unlucky in 2019. A .467 BABIP, 66.7% HR/FB and drastic difference between the wOBA and xwOBA show me better times are ahead in 2020.
Snell’s fastball took a big step forward in the 2018 season. He added nearly two mph to bring his average fastball up to 96 mph while also running it up to 99 mph at times. It was not an a great pitch for Snell, as it surrendered a 106 wRC+. However, big improvement in whiff rate and contact performance made the fastball a much better offering as his most heavily used pitch.
By doubling its usage from last year to more than 20%, Snell made it clear the curveball was his preferred breaking pitch. It paid off. Snell’s curveball posted an out-of-zone swing rate of 45.4% paired with a swinging-strike rate of 24.9%. He surrendered just a .144 wOBA on the pitch, giving it the highest pVal of any of his pitches at 13.7.
Snell uses his changeup as the strike-getting offspeed pitch in his repertoire, with a zone rate of nearly 40%. The pitch still gets whiffs at a respectable 15.3% of the time. It has the least bat-missing stuff of his three offspeed pitches, but it still plays as a positive pitch and another great option for Snell
On a pitch value rate basis, the slider was Snell’s best pitch in 2018 at a 4.1 pVal/C. He traded some of his sliders in previous years for curveballs, but the slider performed very well. Like his other breaking pitch, the slider was a chase and whiff machine, holding a 43.2 O-swing% and a 25.9% whiff rate.