No pitch has defined the development of pitch mixes throughout baseball like the slider. Slider usage continues to climb year after year in all levels of baseball, and for good reason. No other pitch combines the movement of a breaking ball with pitch velocity quite like a slider. Many pitchers with plus sliders have begun to use the pitch interchangeably with their fastball—a concept that would have been alien 10-15 years ago.
Within the slider genre there’s a variety of pitch types. The classic gyro slider is a tight, typically harder breaking ball whose defining characteristic is the red dot it creates as it travels to the plate. Sweeping sliders have taken the game by storm, with horizontal breaking frisbees becoming more and more common. Finally, there’s the cutter hybrid sliders, which are typically harder than gyro or sweeper sliders. There’s also the classic slurve, a harder, two-plane breaking ball that shares characteristics of both a curveball and slider. In other words, there’s a variety of slider types and each movement pattern has its own defining shape.
Today, we’ll discuss the best sliders thrown by Top 100 Prospects during the 2022 minor league season. All data used in this article was sourced from team contacts and includes each pitcher’s full minor league sample.
Key Slider Metrics
Velocity: This one is simple—the harder you throw the better.
Horizontal Break: Simply how much the pitch moves horizontally. When discussing sliders, all horizontal break is toward the pitcher’s glove side.
Whiff Rate: The rate of total swings against a pitch that results in a swinging strike or a whiff. This is the purest way to determine how well a given pitch misses bats.
Chase Rate: The rate of total swings against a pitch that induces chases or swings out of the zone.
Called + Swinging Strikes Rate (CSW%): The number of called strikes and swinging strikes added together and then divided by the total number of pitches.
Weighted On Base Average (wOBA): Weighted On Base Average is a variation of on-base percentage that weighs each method of getting on base differently. Think of it like this; a walk is worth less than a double and a double is worth less than a home run. This is an excellent way to view a pitcher’s ability to drive outs.
Expected Weighted On Base On Contact xwOBAcon: xwOBAcon is useful when analyzing pitches for a very simple reason. It eliminates strikeouts and walks and only measures the quality of balls in play. It also…