Sarris: What was the most dominant pitch of 2019?

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on December 4, 2019:

“Define your terms, you will permit me again to say, or we shall never understand one another,” wrote 18th-century philosopher Voltaire in his Dictionnaire Philosophique. Though his satire Candide was an easier read, Voltaire’s thoughts on philosophy were surprisingly relevant to a sport that wasn’t yet widely played until at least fifty years after his death.

If we want to talk about which pitch was the most dominant pitch of the year, we better define our terms, or we will never understand each other.

For example, we could define dominant as the stingiest results allowed on a pitch. Already we have a problem, though, because there are more than 800 pitch types in baseball that have allowed a .000 weighted on-base average (wOBA, where .325 was average last year). About 90 percent of them are probably erroneously labeled or random mistake pitches, things like: CC Sabathia’s curve, which he supposedly didn’t throw this year, or threw twice; Blake Snell’s sinker, which one site says he’s never thrown; or Chris Davis’ slider, which … how would we know which one was the slider?

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Originally published: December 5, 2019. Last Updated: December 5, 2019.