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Entries in cutter (9)


Kenley Jansen's Cutter

Kenley Jansen will throw a cutter. You shall not hit that cutter. Maybe that's a bit simplistic, but it basically sumps up Jansen's 2011 season with the Dodgers. The former catcher, who led the Netherlands to an upset win over the Dominican Republic in 2009 by gunning out Willy Taveras on the base paths, has used his howitzer of a right arm to rack up 83 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched (15.6 K/9), the highest rate of Ks per nine innings pitched among relievers. And he's doing it with perhaps the nastiest cutter in the game this side of Mariano Rivera.

Jansen's cutter, thrown about 72 percent of the time, averages 93.1 mph and can climb as high as 97. He doesn't nibble with the pitch, choosing to challenge hitters in the zone:

 Frequency of Jansen's cutter location, 2011

Fifty-eight percent of Jansen's cutters have been thrown in the strike zone, well above the 51 percent league average for the pitch. Despite Jansen putting his cutters over the plate, hitters swing through the pitch at a startling rate. Check out hitters' contact rate by pitch location vs. Jansen's cutter, compared to the league average:

 Hitters' contact rate vs. Jansen's cutter, 2011

League average contact rate vs. cutters, 2011

Unless it's low, batters have no chance against Jansen's cutter. In fact, his 37 percent miss rate with the cutter is the highest in the majors and makes a mockery out of the 20-21 percent league average.

When hitters do make contact, they might as well be swinging a whiffle bat. They're not doing any damage:

Hitters' in-play slugging percentage vs. Jansen's cutter, 2011League average in-play slugging percentage vs. cutters, 2011Opponents are slugging .248 against Jansen's cutter (.394 league average). Paul Goldschmidt doubled on an 0-2 cutter from Jansen two days ago. It was the first extra-base hit Jansen surrendered with the pitch since May.

Since making his major league debut last July, Jansen has whiffed 14.9 batters per nine frames. That's the second-highest K rate in MLB history among relievers throwing 70+ innings during their first two seasons in the big leagues, according to Baseball-Reference (Craig Kimbrel is first). Talk about some serious Gouda.


Cutting it with Jon Lester

Jon Lester's cutter is his most valuable pitch.  Fangraphs has it at 17.9 runs above average in 2010.

Jon Lester's 2010 Cutter
(Click to enlarge)
He keeps it away from lefties and in on righties.  Lester only gets into trouble when occasionally leaving one up in the zone. His cutter was almost equally effective against both righties and lefties, although he obviously faces far more RHB as a left-handed starter.

Jon Lester's 2010 Cutter
vs. Left187.179.191.20936.2%1.4%.177
vs. Right541.188.270.24831.1%7.4%.244

The cutter slightly outperformed it's expected value last season, but the inflated xBB% is probably more an indication of how good his cutter really is as an out pitch.

Lester's fastball has begun to give him trouble over the last couple years, and we'll dive into that in a future post.


Million Dollar Cutters

With Mariano Rivera expected to re-sign with the Yankees rather easily - unlike a certain Yankee teammate - the man with the most devastating cut fastball in baseball history will soon be back to making a whole lot of money.

Rivera, as expected, finished with the best cutter among relievers in terms of pitch runs above average, according to Fangraphs. Let's take a graphical look at Rivera's cutter, as well as the cutters of the three next-best relievers from 2010 (minimum 50 IP): Mike Adams, D.J. Carrasco and Craig Breslow.


Slash Stats: .188/.228/.257


Slash Stats: .148/.194/.170


Slash Stats: .188/.266/.319


Slash Stats: .186/.213/.322


Click the thumbnail to see a comparison quilt of all four pitchers.