MLB pitchers threw sliders at a higher rate than ever in the 2022 season.
This makes it very difficult for batters to go yard and the home run total in 2022 proved this to be the case.
In 2019, the MLB had a total of 6,776 home runs. In 2022, the MLB had 5,215 total home runs.
Below, we will examine the increase in slider usage and explain why the number of sliders is at the highest rate it has ever been.
Pitchers Threw 33.7% More Sliders in 2022 Compared to 2017
Slider rates have been increasing each year since 2017 and there is no reason to think pitchers will start to throw fewer sliders in the future.
Here is a breakdown the percentage of sliders thrown rate since 2017.
- 2017: 16.3%
- 2018: 16.9%
- 2019: 18.3%
- 2020: 18.8%
- 2021: 20.1%
- 2022: 21.8%
Sliders were thrown 21.8 percent of the time in 2022, up 5.5 percentage points since 2017.
That represents a rate increase of 33.7 percent during that span.
Why Are Pitchers Throwing More Sliders?
While the fans and media are fascinated by how hard a pitcher can throw, velocity has much less influence on run prevention than spin.
Despite the fact fastballs are increasingly going up in speed, even hitting triple digits nowadays, an average slider is more difficult to hit than an elite fastball.
A four-seam fastball that is 97+ MPH has an MLB batting average of .211 and a .355 slugging percentage.
On the other hand, a typical slider has an MLB batting average of just .200 and a slugging percentage of only .344.
It is not just the volume of sliders but the quality of the pitch is much better.
The quality of the pitch is better due to high-tech pitching labs and coaches skilled in biomechanics.
An average slider spins 14% faster today than it did in 2015.
Pitchers have also added five inches to their extension on sliders.
Almost all the extra extension has come in the last three seasons, as labs have increased in numbers.
These increases have not good news for batters.
Scroll down to see if pitchers will continue to throw more sliders.
Will Pitchers Continue To Throw More Sliders?
The simple answer is yes and it’s easy to see why.
The average MLB slider has been spinning faster and and moving more than ever before.
This year, the MLB saw a low home run total rate, which means pitchers won’t be incentivized to throw fewer sliders next season.
With analytics being used more than ever, pitchers will continue throw sliders at a high rate going forward until opposing hitters start to adjust.
As pitchers continue to have success with the slider, we could actually see the number of sliders continue to increase in coming season.