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The Best Pitch in Baseball: Greinke's Slider?

In case you missed it last night, young Kansas City ace Zack Greinke recorded a whopping 15 strikeouts against the Indians. While he dominated Cleveland in the way that a solid high school pitcher might toy with Little Leaguers, one thing was particularly notable about his performance: His slider was absolutely, positively unhittable.

Of Greinke's 15 strikeouts, 11 final strikes came on a slider. Many of those pitches left batters so puzzled that they couldn't decide whether to swing (outfielder Matt LaPorta was caught in such a scenario twice, looking absolutely embarrassed on both occasions). The entire scene reached surreal levels when Kansas City fans marking each Greinke strikeout with an extra K in his name ran out of K's ... and room to add on the E that ends his name.

Yet perhaps Tuesday's Greinke masterpiece shouldn't be surprising at all. The man who once disappeared from baseball with social anxiety disorder leads the AL in ERA, but also leads it in strikeouts with a career high 197. Of those 197, a whopping 107 have used his slider for the put-out pitch.

Those kind of numbers make for an intriguing claim: Greinke really might have the single best pitch in baseball. Sure, it doesn't hurt that he can also rear back and toss in a 97 mile-per-hour fastball (and a truly plus-plus curveball doesn't hurt either), but Greinke's slider is so overpowering that you get the impression he could be a pretty impressive closer using just that pitch.

So, we want to know: Who has MLB's best pitch? Is it Greinke's slider? Does Mariano Rivera's cut fastball still cut the mustard? What about Johan Santana's change up? What about Josh Beckett's (or Joel Zumaya's) heater?

By Cameron Smith  |  August 26, 2009; 1:02 PM ET
Categories:  Royals  | Tags: Indians, Royals, Zack Greinke  
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Comments

Best pitch in baseball? Any Pedro pitch in 2000.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | August 26, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I chose "Other", because to me, the answer has to be Linceum's changeup. Now I realize that since the changeup is so greatly dependent on other pitches, it's not as functional as a standalone slider or cutter. But if you're going to include Johan's change on that list (which is certainly a great one), Lincecum's has to be considered as well.

Posted by: AlexL925 | August 26, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

So ... which MLB "have" offers the "have not" Royals four MLB-ready prospects for Greinke in the offseason? The same ones we're told will offer the Nats the same haul for Strasburg a year from now?

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | August 26, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Clay Kershaw's curve.

Posted by: Sam6753091 | August 26, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

it has to be rivera. the guy has thrown one pitch for 80 years now and guys still can't hit it.

Posted by: adampschroeder | August 26, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

ask any minor or major league pitching expert, they will all say the same thing. the best pitch in baseball is and always will be strike one

Posted by: formerlylove1 | August 27, 2009 1:47 AM | Report abuse

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