I’m in the midst of my pitch review series, taking a look at the best of each pitch type from last season, and today we’re going to take a look at the best fastballs from 2019, ranked by pVAL.
But enough intro, let’s get to the pitches!
No. 5: Lucas Giolito
It was the breakout year everyone had been waiting for from Lucas Giolito for years, as GioLITo posted a 3.41 ERA, 3.57 SIERA, and 32.3% strikeout rate last year.
A big reason was thanks to this fastball which improved tremendously. It jumped from a -13.5 pVAL in 2018 to a 20.5 pVAL in 2019, which is just about the biggest jump I think I’ve ever seen from a pitch year-to-year in pVAL.
The pitch was solid too. Fastballs typically aren’t swing-and-miss pitches like breaking balls, but Giolito still posted an 11.5% SwStr rate with his fastball as well as a .278 wOBA against. He also reined in hi control of the pitch (like he did with basically his entire repertoire), lowering his fastball’s walk rate from 19.9% in 2018 (which is terrible) to a much more manageable 9.1% last year.
No. 4: Walker Buehler
This part of the pitch review series is going to have a fair number of “oh yea, duh” guys on this list, and Walker Buehler is one of them. The guy was phenomenal, once again last year, posting a 3.26 ERA, 3.50 SIERA, and a 29.2% strikeout rate, and throwing an absolutely filthy fastball.
His fastball, which could hit 100 MPH on occasion, posted a 10.4% SwStr rate (again, pretty impressive for a fastball), and a .267 wOBA against on its way to a 21.6 pVAL. It did have a .166 ISO against, which isn’t great but also isn’t terrible by any stretch.
And given that it set up his amazing breaking pitches well, the fastball absolutely did its job and more.
No. 3: Jack Flaherty
After posting a very good season in 2018, Jack Flaherty decided he might screw around and do even better, and he sure did, posting a 2.75 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 29.9% strikeout rate, showing he’s amazing in every way.
There are a lot of reasons Flaherty was so good last year, but chief among them is this fastball. It was very good in 2018 with an 11.1 pVAL, but he amped it up last year to a 22.8 pVAL as it posted a .261 wOBA against.
No. 2: Lance Lynn
Now this was a bit of a surprise to me. I knew Lance Lynn had a really good fastball, it’s basically all he throws aside from an okay curveball and a pretty bad changeup, but second-best fastball in the league? I did not expect that.
It was pretty phenomenal though, posting a really impressive 14.1% SwStr rate alongside a .290 wOBA against on its way to a 25.7 pVAL, good for the fourth-highest pVAL for any pitch in baseball last year.
And that fastball carried Lynn to a really solid season, posting a 3.67 ERA, 3.83 SIERA, and a 28.1% strikeout rate.
No. 1: Gerrit Cole
Yea, duh, of course Gerrit Cole is on this list and of course he’s at the top of it, have you seen that fastball? I mean, just look at that GIF, that thing is 101 MPH and it’s his 110th pitch of the game. That’s insane.
Anyways, you don’t need me to rattle off all the amazing things Gerrit Cole did last year, but I will anyways. A 2.50 ERA, 2.62 SIERA, 0.89 WHIP, 39.9% strikeout rate, he was just incredible in every way shape and form last year.
And that fastball? It had a nuts 16.7% SwStr rate and a .259 wOBA against on its way to a 34.4 pVAL, the highest pVAL of any pitch in all of baseball. Yea, it’s a pretty decent pitch I guess.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)