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Entries in Andrew Cashner (1)

Tuesday
Sep172013

Killer Speed Kills

“The good rising fastball is the best pitch in baseball.” - Tom Seaver

There is a terrific article in today's New York Times by Barry Bearak in which he talks with Glenn Fleisig, a biomedical engineer and the research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute, about a compelling question: Is there a limit to how fast a human being can throw?

His answer: Yes, there is.

And, he adds: That limit already has been reached.

“Oh, there may be an outlier, one exception here or there,” Fleisig said. “But for major league baseball pitchers as a group of elites, the top isn’t going to go up anymore. With better conditioning and nutrition and mechanics, more pitchers will be toward that top, throwing at 95 or 100. But the top has topped out.”

As reported in the article, according to the manager of data analytics and operations, Graham Goldbeck, of Sportvision which operates use of the Pitch F/X system, the fastest pitch recorded by the system is 105.1 miles per hour. It was thrown by Cincinnati Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman on Sept. 24, 2010, during an at-bat by Tony Gwynn Jr. of the San Diego Padres.

This season's fastest pitches

With this in mind, I wanted to look at the numbers for the fastest pitches thrown this season.

I broke this into starters and relievers since relievers know that they are out there for a short time and often let it all hang out.

2013 Fastest Pitches by Starters
MxVel
Gerrit Cole (PIT)101.0
Andrew Cashner (SD)100.2
Nathan Eovaldi (MIA)100.1
Matt Harvey (NYM)100.1
Danny Salazar (CLE)100.0
Justin Verlander (DET)99.9
Carlos Martinez (STL)100.9
Wily Peralta (MIL)99.3
Jose Fernandez (MIA)99.2
Stephen Strasburg (WSH)99.1


2013 Fastest Pitches by Relievers
MxVel
Aroldis Chapman (CIN)104.0
Bruce Rondon (DET)102.8
Henry Rodriguez (CHC)102.3
Kelvin Herrera (KC)101.5
Trevor Rosenthal (STL)101.4
Carlos Martinez (STL)100.9
Nate Jones (CWS)100.8
Fernando Rodney (TB)100.7
Jose Dominguez (LAD)100.6
Greg Holland (KC)100.2
Jeremy Jeffress (TOR)100.1
Justin Wilson (PIT)99.7
Tommy Hunter (BAL)99.6
Tanner Scheppers (TEX)99.6
Blake Wood (CLE)99.6

There is nothing average about this heat

Here are the starting pitchers with the highest average speed this season
2013 Starters with the Highest Average Speed
PVelMxVelMnVel
Carlos Martinez (STL)38093.7100.976.9
Danny Salazar (CLE)65093.1100.078.3
Gerrit Cole (PIT)1,53692.9101.078.3
Nathan Eovaldi (MIA)1,39692.8100.173.9
Matt Harvey (NYM)2,69792.1100.177.1
James Paxton (SEA)19291.798.279.3
Kevin Gausman (BAL)70891.899.478.9
Zack Wheeler (NYM)1,62091.498.474.7
Wily Peralta (MIL)2,89591.399.375.8
Alex Colome (TB)26591.396.982.6
Taijuan Walker (SEA)23391.197.870.0
Garrett Richards (LAA)2,08291.797.674.5
Carlos Carrasco (CLE)76091.498.175.6
Johnny Hellweg (MIL)43791.298.173.4
Chris Archer (TB)1,85491.098.879.9


Here are the relievers - Chapman is simply ridiculous
2013 Relievers with the Highest Average Speed
PVelMxVelMnVel
Blake Wood (CLE)4296.699.688.2
Aroldis Chapman (CIN)1,02996.5104.081.1
Bruce Rondon (DET)43295.8102.884.9
Jake McGee (TB)1,05595.699.179.2
Jose Dominguez (LAD)14995.3100.680.7
Johnny Hellweg (MIL)43791.298.173.4
Trevor Rosenthal (STL)1,21894.9101.477.0
Pedro Figueroa (OAK)6594.398.687.3
Kelvin Herrera (KC)97794.1101.577.4
Joel Hanrahan (BOS)15894.199.282.6
Tanner Scheppers (TEX)95094.099.680.6
Henry Rodriguez (CHC)45093.9102.380.1
Carlos Martinez (STL)38093.7100.976.9
Brayan Villarreal (BOS)13393.797.782.3
Kevin Jepsen (LAA)67593.799.044.3
Craig Kimbrel (ATL)93593.699.575.9
Allen Webster (BOS)48690.397.774.6
Edgar Olmos (MIA)7693.598.282.0
Ernesto Frieri (LAA)1,17593.296.980.9
Michael Tonkin (MIN)10593.196.682.4

How fast are the fastballs?

"Every hitter likes fastballs, just like everybody likes ice cream. But you don't like it when someone's stuffing it into you by the gallon. That's what it feels like when Nolan Ryan's thrown balls by you." - Reggie Jackson

So far, I've been talking about the whole repertoire of pitches, but before I end this fast look into fast pitching, I want to talk fastballs.

According to the New York Times article, according to Sportvision, high-velocity fastball pitchers are on the rise. In 2008, 26 pitchers were averaging 95 and above. In 2009, the number rose to 29; in 2010, 41; in 2011, 42; in 2012, 44. This season the number is 46.

Here are the 15 pitchers who have thrown at least 200 fastballs this season and have the highest average speed for their heat.

2013 Fastest Average Fastballs (min 200)
PVelMxVelMnVel
Aroldis Chapman (CIN)84298.4104.094.4
Bruce Rondon (DET)34797.8102.887.3
Nate Jones (CWS)64097.3100.887.9
Kelvin Herrera (KC)72697.3101.587.9
Henry Rodriguez (CHC)31197.1102.392.8
Craig Kimbrel (ATL)65396.899.592.7
Trevor Rosenthal (STL)1,06396.4101.487.9
Fernando Rodney (TB)69596.3100.790.1
Carlos Martinez (STL)30996.3100.984.9
Nathan Eovaldi (MIA)99496.3100.187.9
Jake McGee (TB)97096.299.190.2
Chris Withrow (LAD)33696.298.988.0
Tanner Scheppers (TEX)77096.199.689.7
Tom Wilhelmsen (SEA)53896.099.290.0
Greg Holland (KC)56596.0100.290.3

Just because you throw it fast, doesn't mean you can't be hit

"I looked for the same pitch my whole career, a breaking ball. All of the time. I never worried about the fastball. They couldn't throw it past me, none of them." - Hank Aaron
"Trying to sneak a fastball past Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak the sunrise past a rooster." - Joe Adcock

Here are the batting averages against and slugging pct. of those same pitchers with the fastest average fastballs. Check out Chapman and Kimbrel in contrast to Rondon and Jones.
2013 Fastest Average Fastballs (min 200)
PVelAVGSLUG
Aroldis Chapman (CIN)84298.4.177.287
Bruce Rondon (DET)34797.8.304.468
Nate Jones (CWS)64097.3.287.393
Kelvin Herrera (KC)72697.3.238.450
Henry Rodriguez (CHC)31197.1.258.419
Craig Kimbrel (ATL)65396.8.193.333
Trevor Rosenthal (STL)1,06396.4.217.318
Fernando Rodney (TB)69596.3.267.375
Carlos Martinez (STL)30996.3.300.400
Nathan Eovaldi (MIA)99496.3.244.360
Jake McGee (TB)97096.2.217.354
Chris Withrow (LAD)33696.2.250.450
Tanner Scheppers (TEX)77096.1.241.346
Tom Wilhelmsen (SEA)53896.0.235.336
Greg Holland (KC)56596.0.272.380

In closing...

Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez was said to have remarked after three Bob Feller pitches blew by him, “That last one sounded a little low.”