Which MLB Baseball Pitchers Have The Best Curveballs?

Which MLB Baseball Pitchers Have The Best Curveballs

The curveball is one of the prettiest pitches to see and one of the most important pitches for a pitcher to have in his arsenal. A well-timed and well-placed curveball can make even the best batters become a quick out in the inning. In this article, we’ll take a look at the MLB pitchers who throw the best curveballs in the game.

Charlie Morton

It’s only fitting that a pitcher named Charlie throws one of the best Uncle Charlies in the game. Last season, the right-hander deployed the curveball on 38% of all of his pitches, resulting in a .171 BA for the players at the plate. Morton’s curveball crosses the plate at 81.3 MPH, a 14 MPH decrease from his four-seam fastball.

In the 2021 campaign, Morton’s curveball was the highest rated-pitch by Baseball Savant’s Run Value metric, which measures which pitches limit run creation. One of the reasons why it's so deadly is the amount of spin he gets on it. While the average MLB curveball has about 2,400 rotations per minute, Morton’s curve has 3,070 rotations per minute. This puts him in the 97th percentile of all MLB pitchers.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is one of the greatest pitchers of all time and throws one of the greatest curveballs in the game. Kershaw utilizes a 12-6 curve, which is one of the hardest types of curveballs to hit due to its vertical break. His iconic curve comes in at 73.2 MPH and has been a problem for hitters ever since Kershaw stepped on the mound.

The curveball is Kershaw’s third most used pitch at 16.3%, which helps explain why it's so effective when he does choose to utilize it. The pitch resulted in a 43.8 Whiff% last year, as well as resulting in a .184 BA for those facing it at the plate. Since 2015, Kershaw’s curveball has been the second-best pitch in wOBA (Weighted On Base Average) against in the entire league.

Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright’s career will be coming to an end after this season, and it's his curveball that’s been his best and most utilized pitch throughout his time in the league. The 41-year-old pitcher decided in October that the 2023 campaign would be his last, just a year after finishing seventh in Cy Young voting. Wainwright’s longevity has been thanks in part to his excellent curveball. The pitch comes in at 73 MPH and has 16.1 inches of horizontal movement on it- 46% higher than the MLB average. When using the pitch in 2022, Wainwright gave up 4 HRs and had a 22.3 whiff percentage with it.

Wainwright is currently rehabbing from a groin injury sustained just before the start of the 2023 season but is scheduled to return to the starting rotation by the end of April. When he makes his return, make sure to catch a glimpse of his curveball before the Cardinals legend steps off the mound for the last time.

Honorable Mentions

  • Corbin Burnes (Brewers)
  • Max Fried (Braves)
  • Tyler Glasnow (Rays)
  • Joe Musgrove (Padres)
  • Aaron Nola (Phillies)
  • Ryan Pressly (Astros)
  • Julio Urías (Dodgers)