The nastiest pitch in baseball is the one that ended the 2018 season. Other Major League Baseball players didn’t laugh as Manny Machado dropped to his knee trying to hit a Chris Sale slider to end the World Series, they nodded in agreement.
Plenty of other players have been fooled by Sale’s slider, which is why they voted it the nastiest pitch in baseball, according to MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.
MLB.com polled 85 players and asked them to name the nastiest pitch in baseball right now. The survey was done toward the end of the 2018 season. Sale received 16 votes, which was five votes more than the second-place pitch — more on that in a second.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Sale’s slider ranked No. 1 among the players. It doesn’t take a baseball scout to recognize it’s a dominant pitch that makes hitters look silly.
To get a better idea of what it’s like to face the pitch, MLB.com asked a couple players to explain their answers. New Washington Nationals catcher Yan Gomes explained Sale’s angle helps with deception, and that it often looks like the pitch is coming from first base and then somehow ending up in the strike zone.
“It honestly looks like a fastball out of his hand, and all of a sudden it looks like it’s coming across slightly the way you look at it on the TV, but it moves like three feet and you’re like, ‘How the [heck] am I even supposed to hit that?'”
While Sale’s slider received top honors from players, it wasn’t a run-away favorite. Oakland Athletics closer Blake Treinen received 11 votes for his sinker. Behind him, Corey Kluber got eight votes for his slider, Craig Kimbrel got seven votes for his knuckle-curve and Blake Snell and Jordan Hicks tied for fifth with six votes. Snell’s curveball was highlighted. Hicks received praise for his sinker.
There were a number of other pitches and players mentioned, but we’ll leave you with a top-5 for now. You can always view the full list at MLB.com.
While it’s tough to argue with the players, it’s fun to debate the results. Which pitch do you think deserves more credit from players? We’ll start by saying that while Stephen Strasburg‘s changeup does get a mention toward the end, it deserves to be higher.
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