Wade Davis, Dellin Betances, and the 95+ mph Cutter

The video here depicts the last pitch of Wednesday night’s game between Kansas City and Cincinnati, a contest won 4-3 by the Royals. What else the video depicts is a cutter thrown by Wade Davis at 96 mph — for a swinging strike to one of the major leagues’ most talented hitters. Though the author failed to seek Votto’s opinion of the pitch, the following image might provide some insight:

Votto Image

This is the expression a man makes whilst another man relates an anecdote about the time he suffered some manner of testicular injury. It’s also the expression Joey Votto makes, apparently, when he’s just witnessed a pitch featuring an unusual blend of velocity and movement.

The curious reader — and even the dumb author — are both compelled to ask in such an instance: is Davis’s the fastest sort of cutter? And also: if Davis’s isn’t the fastest, then whose is?

Baseball Savant is endlessly helpful in this endeavor. Using that site’s PITCHf/x search tool — and noting that Davis’s cutter was officially recorded at 95.5 mph — one finds the following list of pitchers who’ve thrown the most cutters at 95 mph or more:

Cutters of 95 MPH or Greater, 2015
Name Team # %
Garrett Richards Angels 315 13.8%
Dellin Betances Yankees 65 6.4%
Kenley Jansen Dodgers 29 5.9%
Wade Davis Royals 13 1.6%
Anthony Bass Rangers 8 0.9%
Mat Latos MIA/LAN 8 0.5%

Angels right-hander Garrett Richards currently leads the league by this measure. That’s unsurprising, as he’s also one of merely two starters on the list — and has therefore been given more opportunities to break the 95-mph threshold. That said, one finds that Richards also possesses the highest rate of 95-plus cutters as a percentage of all pitches thrown.

Only four pitchers — Richards, Dellin Betances, Kenley Jansen, and Davis himself — have crossed the 95-mph threshold on more than 1% of total pitches thrown. So Davis’s game-ending offering to Votto represents both (a) a rare occurrence in the context of the league but also (b) a not entirely surprising occurrence, given the identity of its author.

As for the absolutely fastest pitch thrown this year and also classified as a cutter, that belongs to Betances. On May 27, one of his cutters to Salvador Perez was clocked at 99.2 mph. Rendering footage of that into internet video would require more effort than the current author is prepared to invest, however, so instead the readership must content itself with perpetually looping film of the second-fastest one, also care of Betances.

Here’s footage of that second-fastest cutter, thrown at 99.1 mph to strike out Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor, from May 20:

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Urban Shocker
6 years ago

could we get a GIF of Betances little ho-hum dance at the end?