When deciding on the grade for a pitcher’s breaking pitch, a scout relies on the pitch’s velocity and movement (although command can be factored in as well).Â  These factors are combined into a single number on a scale from 20-80, with major league average as a 50 and a standard deviation recorded at 10.

Clayton Kershaw’s curveball has long been regarded as one of the best in the business, yet by my systematic calculation factoring in velocity, horizontal movement, and vertical movement, his curveball rated among the bottom third of curveballs.Â  Its below-average velocity and below-average horizontal movement held it back despite its above-average vertical movement.Â  While I was pondering this conundrum, I remembered another fact–Kershaw’s fastball happens to have a lot of rise.Â  What if movement was recorded by the difference between the pitcher’s fastball movement and the breaking ball movement instead of the breaking ball’s movement compared to an arbitrary point?Â  I was about to find out.

(This paragraph is solely methodology, so skip it if you wish.)Â  Using Baseball Prospectus’ excellent pitch f/x leaderboard, I selected all pitchers who threw at least 200 four-seam fastballs and at least 100 curveballs in 2014.Â  A breaking pitch’s horizontal and vertical movement was recorded as the difference between the pitch’s raw movement and the pitcher’s four-seam fastball’s movement.Â  I calculated the z-scores for the curveball’s velocity and the z score for the combination of the z scores of the curveball’s relative movements.Â  (I gave a 150% weight to vertical movement over horizontal movement).Â  Then, I combined the z scores of the velocity and combined relative movement to calculate a relative pitch score.Â  (I gave a 150% weight to combined relative movement over velocity).Â  Finally, I calculated a scouting grade on the 20-80 scale based off the relative pitch score.Â  Below is a table showing my results.

While I may not have solved the difference of evaluation among Kershaw’s curveball, the relative scouting grade at least opens discussion on how movement and velocity of pitches should be evaluated.Â  Is it better for a breaking pitch to be faster, or is it better to create a wider difference in velocity between the fastball and breaking ball?Â  Is it better for a pitcher’s breaking ball movement to be as different from the fastball as possible, or do some similarities create greater deception because a hitter can’t recognize the pitch earlier?

 Player CU Vel CU H Mov CU V Mov Rel SG Unadj SG Garrett Richards 79.68 5.85 -12.33 76.26 71.63 Sonny Gray 82.45 9.21 -5.44 76.09 67.11 Justin Grimm 81.63 7.15 -6.92 72.63 64.67 Blaine Hardy 78.62 1.55 -9.74 71.28 53 Adam Wainwright 75.37 9.34 -9.23 69.59 60.71 John Axford 78.77 4.37 -9.81 69.07 59.61 Carlos Torres 79.9 6.43 -9.09 68.1 64.79 Robbie Erlin 74.28 0.81 -10.64 68.01 43.53 Felix Hernandez 80.97 7.25 -8.16 67.84 66.62 Yu Darvish 78.16 8.5 -7.46 67.83 60.8 Yordano Ventura 83.76 2.28 -5.63 65.12 55.81 Clay Buchholz 78.25 8.88 -7.36 64.52 61.56 Brandon Workman 77.09 4.68 -9.35 64.24 55.08 Tyler Skaggs 77.58 6.64 -8.92 63.97 59.31 Jake Arrieta 80.12 5.81 -9.46 63.55 64.97 Juan Gutierrez 81.1 6.16 -6.77 62.94 60.89 Kevin Jepsen 84.52 3.9 -6.89 62.68 64.44 James Paxton 82.54 0.39 -2.69 62.49 41.05 Chris Tillman 76.22 3.31 -10.43 62.3 52.94 Craig Kimbrel 86.3 4.84 -5.95 62.14 68.18 Adam Warren 81.94 4.9 -6.62 61.45 59.77 Dellin Betances 83.85 7.04 -3.79 61.29 61.37 Edinson Volquez 80.67 5.95 -7.3 60.89 60.83 Wade Davis 85.56 3.29 -4.69 60.28 59.75 Tom Wilhelmsen 78.85 6.01 -7.58 60.26 57.4 Trevor May 77.76 7.56 -6.23 59.46 54.56 Cody Allen 86.88 5.09 -3.71 59.12 64.13 Tyler Thornburg 78.45 2.83 -7.21 59.01 48.63 Casey Janssen 74.81 9.84 -5.38 58.98 50.23 Trevor Bauer 79.18 5.17 -8.33 58.51 58.36 Brad Peacock 77.37 5.91 -7.39 57.85 53.18 Brett Oberholtzer 79.73 1.73 -3.22 57.83 38.69 Cole Hamels 79.01 3.23 -6.2 57.81 48.13 Josh Tomlin 76.76 4.39 -7.46 56.34 48.65 Drew Pomeranz 81.77 4.9 -7.41 56.24 61.47 Gio Gonzalez 78.4 5.35 -8.64 56.18 57.73 Andre Rienzo 79.26 6.3 -6.52 55.97 56.17 Scott Atchison 80.83 4.81 -8.52 55.78 62 Scott Kazmir 77.03 0.12 -3.35 55.77 29.19 Ian Kennedy 78.23 6.26 -9.1 55.71 60.51 Nick Tepesch 78.82 5.36 -8 55.71 57.04 Cory Rasmus 76.65 5.44 -7.84 55.67 51.66 Tom Koehler 79.92 5.1 -8.64 55.42 60.79 Marco Estrada 77.92 4.66 -6.27 55.31 48.81 Mike Fiers 72.93 3.7 -11.31 55.29 48.33 Odrisamer Despaigne 76.43 8.24 -7.25 55.08 55.59 Francisco Rodriguez 76.96 7.14 -6.73 54.97 53.1 Anthony Ranaudo 78.16 4.35 -7.93 54.82 53.13 Stephen Strasburg 80.69 7.59 -7.28 54.74 64.35 Mike Minor 81.66 0.98 -3.82 54.69 43.24 Yovani Gallardo 79.95 4.01 -6.75 54.68 53.49 Jeremy Hellickson 76.7 7.51 -9.53 54.53 60.71 Justin Verlander 79.98 4.97 -6.45 54.29 54.83 Dillon Gee 74.91 8.15 -7.75 54.19 53.13 J.A. Happ 78.27 2.13 -4.71 53.89 40.06 Kevin Quackenbush 77.17 5.05 -7.88 53.7 52.15 Roenis Elias 79.81 7.16 -6.09 53.3 58.18 Marcus Stroman 83.34 8.96 -2.3 53.27 60.33 Jason Vargas 75.68 1.63 -5.08 53.05 33.84 Clayton Kershaw 74.61 2.35 -8.93 52.85 43.08 Collin McHugh 73.68 8.26 -9 52.55 53.77 David Phelps 80.72 2.7 -5.06 52.51 48.01 Tommy Hunter 83.55 6.01 -3.14 52.48 56.72 Wesley Wright 79.8 3.86 -4.65 52.48 47.24 Miles Mikolas 75.4 6.22 -9.7 52.36 55.32 Javy Guerra 77.99 3.47 -7.42 52.2 49.48 Jason Hammel 77.19 6.3 -7.76 52.1 54.57 Vic Black 82.68 3.57 -3.91 51.95 51.46 Phil Coke 80.48 0.98 -3.37 51.9 39.25 Nick Martinez 76.92 3.84 -8.05 51.86 49.41 Jordan Zimmermann 79.71 5.65 -6.73 51.77 56.4 Phil Hughes 77.22 6.62 -7.84 51.53 55.54 Zack Greinke 72.88 6.58 -7.08 51.41 43.17 Colby Lewis 77.7 6.12 -5.81 50.97 50.21 Joe Kelly 79.88 6.94 -8.44 50.7 64.12 David Price 80.37 2.84 -1.58 50.68 38.24 Tim Lincecum 75.63 3.81 -8.37 50.62 47.15 Junichi Tazawa 76.12 6.87 -8.14 50.61 54.27 Matt Garza 75.25 4.66 -8.62 50.4 48.74 Jake Peavy 80.56 2.49 -1.91 50.39 38.81 Joba Chamberlain 79.74 5.1 -6.03 50.25 53.43 John Lackey 79.16 5.54 -5.39 50.13 51.3 Grant Balfour 82.74 2.44 -1.31 50.07 42.27 Wei-Yin Chen 74.9 3.11 -6 50 37.62 Danny Duffy 78.22 3.8 -6.76 49.95 48.98 Michael Wacha 75.4 4.99 -6.15 49.88 43.24 Zack Wheeler 79.61 6.2 -8.2 49.75 61.25 Anthony Varvaro 80.73 4.14 -5.43 49.68 52.11 Shelby Miller 77.76 7.65 -5.21 49.51 52.05 Edwin Jackson 79.94 1.31 -3.97 49.41 40.28 Miguel Gonzalez 77.47 5.77 -6.3 49.39 50.22 Anibal Sanchez 79.85 3.27 -3.53 49.35 43.11 Jesse Hahn 74.64 8.63 -8.05 49.33 54.32 Brandon McCarthy 82.24 5.96 -4.24 49 56.44 Mat Latos 76.95 3.64 -4.84 48.99 40.53 Tanner Roark 74.25 6.13 -9.04 48.69 50.65 Vance Worley 77.87 6.06 -5.44 48.53 49.5 J.J. Hoover 75.78 6.82 -6.21 48.49 48.24 Jose Fernandez 83.56 8.96 -1.82 48.41 59.58 Felix Doubront 75.43 2.87 -8.77 48.33 45.72 Jordan Lyles 81.77 2.16 -3.92 48.31 46.3 Santiago Casilla 82.01 4.48 -5.46 48.18 55.95 Kevin Correia 79.47 6.02 -3.46 48.15 47.94 Erik Bedard 74.86 4.96 -6.51 48.07 42.86 James Shields 80.39 3.11 -4.08 47.79 45.51 Gerrit Cole 84.65 6.34 -3.47 47.79 60.91 Chase Anderson 77.79 4.59 -7.32 47.24 51.15 Rick Porcello 78.15 7.45 -5.93 46.98 54.45 Travis Wood 72.92 1.78 -6.47 46.64 31.32 Samuel Deduno 81.59 6 -5.39 46.63 58.04 Johnny Cueto 81.53 2.02 -1.73 45.52 39.62 David Buchanan 77.95 4.31 -8.22 45.48 53.31 Ian Krol 79.05 5.17 -4.38 45.11 47.56 Erasmo Ramirez 80.4 3.22 -1.79 45.05 39.68 Charlie Morton 78.99 9.72 -7.1 45.02 64.43 Matt Cain 78.2 7.49 -5.26 44.99 52.88 Jose Quintana 80.94 2.22 -2.39 44.96 40.41 A.J. Burnett 82.4 4.23 -5.31 44.89 55.94 Vidal Nuno 77.29 4.84 -5.16 44.68 44.76 Daisuke Matsuzaka 75.37 8.38 -6.13 44.63 50.41 Hector Noesi 81.07 5.54 -4.12 44.59 52.45 Jake Odorizzi 70.24 4.97 -8.77 44.52 37.95 Joel Peralta 78.14 5.41 -3.91 44.15 44.68 Joe Nathan 82.63 2.69 -1.83 43.9 43.93 Carlos Carrasco 81.71 6.55 -5.33 43.55 59.35 Josh Beckett 73.88 7.73 -7.83 43.33 50 Fernando Salas 83.76 1.47 1.74 43.17 34.49 Lance Lynn 80.15 4.98 -5.79 43.07 53.5 Jered Weaver 69.96 6.47 -3.84 42.49 27.42 Will Smith 79.06 4.48 -4.32 41.86 45.94 Hector Santiago 77.64 3.59 -0.53 41.31 30.6 Jorge De La Rosa 74.81 4.56 -6.26 41.19 41.21 Hyun-jin Ryu 73.1 5.04 -7.88 41.17 42.5 Matt Shoemaker 76.24 6.77 -1.78 41.06 37.45 Fernando Abad 78.63 4.08 -4.74 40.75 45.18 Ryan Vogelsong 77.55 2.32 -4.13 40.71 37.22 Nathan Eovaldi 76.8 7.12 -7.37 40.45 54.37 Jon Niese 74.5 2.71 -5.81 39.94 35.31 Dan Haren 77.88 3.67 -3.65 39.66 39.63 Brad Hand 80.04 5.66 -2.5 39.15 45.96 Franklin Morales 74.71 5.81 -5.22 38.68 40.9 Alfredo Simon 78.2 5.32 -4.82 38.35 47.04 Eric Stults 68.63 1.8 -5.12 37.89 17.63 Madison Bumgarner 77.56 5.55 -4.39 37.85 44.88 Yusmeiro Petit 77.55 7.25 1.56 37.82 32.71 Jeremy Guthrie 76.14 4.86 -3.22 37.74 36.93 Masahiro Tanaka 74.41 5.28 -6.35 37.48 42.06 Gavin Floyd 81.7 5.13 -3.23 37.24 50.69 Aaron Harang 74.67 2.85 -4.36 36.79 32.16 Jacob deGrom 80.26 4.49 -1.82 36.32 42.16 Jon Lester 75.95 4.82 -4.15 36.25 38.87 Homer Bailey 80.44 5.72 -2.91 36.13 48.13 Jose Veras 76.8 10.11 -5.62 35.11 56.15 Jerry Blevins 74.84 6.77 -4.32 35.1 40.88 Drew Smyly 78.4 3.38 -0.21 34.68 31.1 C.J. Wilson 77.18 5.52 -4.61 34.67 44.5 John Danks 74.15 2.51 -1.84 34.63 23.5 Julio Teheran 74.02 6.32 -4.89 34.54 39.49 Jacob Turner 79.14 3.29 -2.46 34.4 38.63 Tommy Milone 75.46 4.13 -2.38 34.24 31.52 Tim Hudson 76.14 8.32 -4.29 33.02 47.21 Max Scherzer 78.2 5.92 -2.31 32.64 41.66 Hiroki Kuroda 77.15 4.58 -2.65 31.98 37.2 Paul Maholm 72.76 5.41 -5.55 29.91 36.31 Carlos Villanueva 76.58 4.05 -1.53 29.9 31.74 Scott Carroll 77.43 7.38 -2.75 25.13 44.15 Mark Buehrle 72.16 3.91 -3.74 23.02 26.85