Justin Verlander’s 12-6 curve
The MLB 2K12 cover star gets ridiculous drop on his best breaking ball. The pitch only sits at 83 MPH, but when you combine this kind of movement with the fact that you can throw the pitch after hitters are used to 100 MPH fastballs, it’s easily one of the best pitches in the game. In real life, Verlander aims this pitch at the low outside corner of the strike zone. That’s the spot where you should place it as well – when your opponent makes contact, more often than not, it will be a weak grounder.
Courtesy of Fangraphs, the chart above is of Verlander's curveball movement. The pitches on the chart are as a catcher would perceive them. So, pitches further to the right would break in to left-handed hitters, and vice versa. Movement is relative to the average pitch.
Aroldis Chapman’s fastball
The base speed on Chapman’s fastball is 105 MPH. Yeah, that’s right – 105. It’s too bad he doesn’t have a changeup in the game, because that kind of velocity combined with a slow pitch could seriously mess with hitters’ timing. In the meantime, though, there’s no more devastating straight fastball in the game. The pitch comes in with such speed that it actually appears to rise, a big reason that it’s so hard to hit.
Felix Hernandez’s changeup
King Felix’s changeup sits at a relatively fast 88 MPH, but his in-game fastball gets into the mid-90s, so the change is still a good weapon against hitters sitting on the fastball. This pitch also moves more than most other changeups in the game, and when it’s thrown low in the strike zone, it’s nearly unhittable. In real life, the movement on Felix’s changeup is almost indistinguishable from his fastball, which is why it’s such a potent weapon.
Kenley Jansen’s 2-seam fastball
During his career, Kenley Jansen has struck out nearly 15 batters per inning. That’s more than two K/9 better than the all-time record, held by Rob Dibble. Jansen’s 2-seamer isn’t the highest-rated pitch in the game by a longshot, but given Jansen’s other ratings, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The pitch breaks across the strike zone and in against right-handed hitters, and more often than not, they’ll flail away and miss. In real life, it’s Jansen’s cutter than he uses to put away batters, but it’s the 2-seam that gets the job done in-game.
Mariano Rivera’s cut fastball
Was there any way this pitch wasn’t going to make the list? Sure, Mariano’s other offerings are solid, but it’s the cutter that made him what he is today. In-game, the pitch has serious velocity (94 MPH), 99 movement and 99 control. It’s pretty much the perfect pitch. Use it, and you’ll see why.