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Ranking the best pitches in MLB: Zach Britton's sinker tops the list

Carlos Carrasco's curveball and Zach Britton's sinker rank high on the list of the best pitches in MLB. Getty Images, USA TODAY Sports

When trying to determine the best pitches in baseball, there are so many features of a pitch to evaluate.

There's velocity, because after all, every mile per hour of velocity does add effectiveness to a fastball. But there are so many variables involved even within velocity -- movement, release point, pitch deception -- that it's tough to get a good read on how effective velocity is by itself. Consider that Darren O'Day's rising 87 mph four-seam fastball had the highest whiff rate of any four-seamer in baseball last year. That's probably because hitters probably expect more sink from the "submariner" (at least that was his theory).

What about pitch movement? Also tempting, because movement provides us the easiest visuals, not to mention movement is also linked to good outcomes for changeups and curveballs. But even that's tricky. Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil's curve had a higher whiff percentage than any other curve despite having three inches less horizontal movement and six inches less drop than your average curve. Weird.

In the end, we just have to throw the scouting stuff out the window and look at the results. Of course, even there, you still have to know what to look for, and how to use the data you find. So let's set up a way to judge pitches simply and lay out the top 10 pitches overall -- spoiler alert: Zach Britton's sinker is No. 1 -- and the top 25 pitches from just starting pitchers. Some of the top pitches may surprise you.