Commentary

Nastiest pitches in baseball

Pitch f/x has been around just long enough to draw some interesting conclusions

Updated: December 16, 2009, 2:06 PM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | Special to Insider
Tim Lincecum AP Photo/Dino VournasTim Lincecum often throws his changeup out of the zone, drawing plenty of swing-and-misses.

This week on ESPN.com, writers and editors are looking back at the past 10 years in baseball and looking ahead to the future. Today, based on recent pitch-tracking innovations, Insider looks at the nastiest (and least nasty) pitches of this or any decade.

Introduced to the baseball world in 2007, Pitch f/x tracks every characteristic of a pitch's flight path -- its release point, spin direction, release speed, arrival speed, horizontal and vertical movement, end location and more. The technology, developed by Sportvision, uses sensor cameras camped around the ballpark and has added another weapon to the evaluative arsenal of front offices.

With nearly 1 million pitches thrown every season, the system provides a gold mine of granular information for baseball organizations to feast on. For the baseball fan, however, the resource offers something much different: the power to find the nastiest pitch in the game.

Before we get our hands dirty, it should be pointed out that a pitch's success can't be graded in a vacuum. Any pitch's effectiveness depends on how and when the pitcher uses it. With that said, we can use velocity, movement and spin rotation as well as hit, whiff and chase percentages to award the game's most menacing offerings. Although Pitch f/x has been fully robust and complete for only the past two seasons, it still leaves us with plenty of fodder to dish out some hardware.