MLB

Ranking the Top 10 MLB Breaking Pitches of 2014

Ranking the Top 10 MLB Breaking Pitches of 2014

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Bert Blyleven is widely considered the man who owns the best breaking ball in MLB history. His 12-to-6 curve earned him a plaque in Cooperstown and kept him employed in the majors for 22 years. Here are the top-10 active major leaguers whose breaking balls would make Blyleven smile.

10. Aroldis Chapman

aroldis chapman
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10. Aroldis Chapman

03 aroldis chapman
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Aroldis Chapman's slider may not be one of the 10-best breaking balls in the majors. However, when a hitter is in the box looking for 100+ MPH cheese and Chapman tosses a high-80's slider, batters have no chance. Since his 2010 debut, Chapman has thrown a slider, but in 2013 and 2014, the pitch morphed from from his back pocket into one he uses in his everyday arsenal.

9. Sonny Gray

sonny gray
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9. Sonny Gray

sonny gray
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics starter Sonny Gray throws his knockout curve as much as any hard-throwing starter in the majors. Varying the speed of his bender anywhere from 84 MPH to a slurvey 75 MPH, Gray's curve is a his dominant pitch.

8. Dellin Betances

dellin betances
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8. Dellin Betances

dellin betances
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees rookie Dellin Betances is another hard-throwing reliever. Some call his breaking pitch a slider, while others call it a curve. He throws the hybrid about half the time, mixing it with high-to-mid-90's gas. Betances made the 2014 All-Star team with numbers to drool over, 1.82 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 13.3 K/9.

7. A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett
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7. A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett
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Philadelphia Phillies starter A.J. Burnett's hook has kept him in a Major League uniform since 1999. When he was younger, he primarily relied on a couple different fastballs, but as he's aged -- much to the chagrin of batters -- Burnett uses the curve as his out pitch.

6. Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez
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6. Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez
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Former AL Cy Young Award winner and 2014 front runner for the award, Felix Hernandez should be on lists for best fastball, breaking ball and change. He throws three different fastballs and a plus-plus-change, but his breaking stuff, both a curve and a slider, is what makes him one of the best pitchers of this generation.

5. Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish
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5. Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish
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Japanese import Yu Darvish's slider has the bite of a starving pit bull. He throws it about 20 percent of the time, and it averages about 13 MPH slower than his heat. Also equipped with a snapdragon curve that averages a full 20 MPH slower than his fastball, it's a wonder he's ever given up a hit.

4. Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw
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4. Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw
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Like Hernandez, everything Clayton Kershaw throws is a plus-plus pitch. His heat can touch 98 on the gun, making his devastating secondary pitches nearly unhittable. Baseball's most talented pitcher throws his hook from a high-three-quarters arms slot with a filthy 1-to-7 drop.

3. Craig Kimbrel

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3. Craig Kimbrel

craig kimbrel
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Opposing teams hate the sight of Craig Kimbrel running toward the hill. The Atlanta Braves reliever has led the NL in saves each of the last three years by effectively mixing high-90's fastballs with a spike curve that acts more like a slider. Whatever Kimbrel calls his breaking pitch, batters fear it.

2. Adam Wainwright

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2. Adam Wainwright

adam wainwright
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright owns the most Blyleven-like curve in the game; a classic 12-to-6 knee-buckler that every playground kid dreams of throwing. Wainwright embarrasses the best hitters in the game after flailing at the pitch or watching it break into the zone after ducking out of the way.

1. Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez
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1. Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez
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Baseball fans were thrown a severe gut punch when Jose Fernandez was told he needed Tommy John surgery and missed all but eight starts this season. Last year's Rookie of the Year award winner has the best curve of anyone on the list, and besides Darvish, probably the best slider of any starter. His curveball is flat-out supernatural, as it breaks more with a hard horizontal tilt rather than vertical.