WHIFF PROFILE: KELVIM ESCOBAR
If you want to see a stuff clinic, go see Escobar.
Another objective of WHIFF was to reveal the actual "plus" pitches in baseball. The term "plus pitch" gets thrown around so freely that you'd think a below-average offering didn't exist in the big leagues. But, naturally, they have to. That isn't to say, for instance, that Greg Maddux's cut fastball isn't used with some effectiveness as either a show-pitch or a barrel-misser against lefties, it just isn't close to being in the top tier of cutters. Not everybody can have, say, a 5-pitch repertoire of all killer pitches...but there is one guy.
Kelvim Escobar throws a fastball, curveball, slider, change, and splitter. WHIFF-wise, they all rank at or above the MLB average.
It's difficult to say what his best pitch is. On the surface, it would appear to be his changeup, a pitch that imitates his fastball ridiculously well and produces a .364 WHIFF. But his fastball sets everything up, and his splitter, a pitch that he buries against both RHBs and LHBs, is his favored out-pitch (39 Ks). His curveball produces his highest WHIFF rate, but is also his least frequent offering.
What's so unique about Escobar is that every pitch he throws is crisp, and he uses all of them against both RHBs and LHBs. As a hitter, any one of these pitches could embarrass the heck out of you, and as Escobar, it has to be difficult deciding what to even throw.
Although this year, he's probably made a lot more good decisions than poor ones.
Kelvim Escobar WHIFF Breakdown
Fastball - .143 (MLB AVG .141)
Curveball - .379 (MLB AVG .270)
Slider - .299 (MLB AVG .299)
Changeup - .364 (MLB AVG .274)
Splitter - .338 (MLB AVG .311)