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How many people can throw harder than Jamie Moyer?

Apr 18, 2012, 5:19 PM EDT

radar gun

Jamie Moyer not cracking 80 miles per hour with any of his pitches last night was noteworthy enough for me to write about it earlier today, but then I started thinking about his velocity as it relates to my own weak arm.

Which brought me to this question: What percentage of adult males can throw harder than 80 miles per hour? My initial reaction is “very, very few.”

Sure, if you count only former high school pitchers or good athletes the percentage will be much higher, but for the overall male population of, say, ages 20 to 60? And that’s including all the guys who’ve never played baseball, which is a significant percentage in itself.

After all, if you go to an MLB game where they have a booth set up with a radar gun someone throwing 80 mph would be met with amazement and would then be followed by dozens of guys blowing out their arms trying to duplicate the feat while actually topping out in the 60s.

So, my guess is one percent or fewer. What say you, HBT’ers?

  1. shukey11 - Apr 19, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    And less people can shoot a puck faster than 80mph. I fail to see the point.

  2. d214tx - Apr 19, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    I top out at 94

  3. lostsok - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    At the fair I hit 57. There’s a reason I played 2b and LF. :- (

  4. hasbeen5 - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    If you’re talking ages 20-60, I agree about way less than 1 percent. I topped out in the mid 80s in high school, and it didn’t take long for that to drop off. 10 years later, not throwing every day, or even every week, I’d be lucky to break 70 at this point.

    Being taught to pitch and doing it a lot as a kid, I think I’d have an advantage over a raw strength guy with no pitching experience. Then factor in the guys that are not athletic, and it might not even be 1/2 a %.

  5. Panda Claus - Apr 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I wonder how many HBT followers are going be throwing out their arms this weekend in an effort to see how fast they can hit on the radar gun?

    • stex52 - Apr 19, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      Not me. I know better.

  6. dowhatifeellike - Apr 19, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Mechanics and overall strength have a lot to do with it. I was long and scrawny in high school with poor mechanics, but I could whip it up to 74 on a good day. I developed a lot of shoulder problems because of said poor mechanics (and a HS coach who made me throw every day, pain or no pain) and washed out after one year trying to convert to RF in college. A few years later I was able to hit 65 at a carnival with a cold arm, which in hindsight, was a pretty stupid thing to do. But my baseball days were already over.

    I started throwing again last year just for the hell of it (9 years removed from high school); I’m much stronger and fixed my mechanics, now I can pump it up to 81 from flat ground. But my elbow doesn’t like that. I think even if I had the ability to throw 90, my elbow wouldn’t last long. If I were actually pitching and not just throwing, I’d probably operate in the mid to low 70s.

  7. Gamera the Brave - Apr 19, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Was a pretty good Little League pitcher, thought my mechanics were pretty good – so when I had it timed in my 20s, figured I could hit maybe 75, maybe even 80. Threw my best, hardest pitch, with everything I had – 64 mph.
    First thought, the radar gun is screwing me.
    Second thought was, is there an Orthopedic Surgeon nearby?…

  8. stlouis1baseball - Apr 19, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    I played baseball well past high school. Played SS, 3rd, Center and Left.
    Still play competive Softball (have for 15 years). By competitive I mean it’s the open division where dudes actually get paid to play. Yep…paid to play softball.
    Other than our SS, LF and LC positions…I have one of the strongest arms on the team.
    My guess…if I were to hit SEVENTY MPH (at age 39)…I would immediately go buy a lottery ticket cause’ I am in dream land. You can forget 80.
    I think we have some people fibbing a little bit with their estimations!

  9. Glanzer - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I actually worked at Valleyfair for years in the Games department and saw many people try. Guys who thought they would hit 99 would basically give this insane exaggerated windup and exasperated bellow as they threw a ball as hard as humanly possible, only to hit 59 or have the ball sail too far outside the strike zone to be measured, at which point they would blame it on not being warmed up or the radar gun being broken. Very, very few ever hit 80.

  10. dabarks9 - Apr 24, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    Way too many people are bringing up the stupid radar guns at stadiums. First off, you have absolutely no warm up and if you try and throw it your hardest you are an idiot. Secondly, you are on the flat ground with very little room.

    Now to the main point, I agree that very few people would be able to hit 80 MPH. Almost anybody that could would have to be a former baseball player and most likely a former pitcher or at least somebody with very sound mechanics. The main problem is that most people stop throwing regularly and once you lose the flexibility in your shoulder it can be really hard to get that back.

    I pitched in high school and D3 in college not too long ago and I have a brother that pitches in high school, so we play catch and long toss regularly, and I am pretty confident I could get it up over 80 but that would be off a mound and after a good warm up. I topped out at 87 in college but was at 81-84 most of the time. Bottom line, throwing over 80 is not too easy no matter what type of shape you are in.

    I would guess the readers of hardball would have quite a few more 80+ throwers than the general population as the readership is probably pretty young and there have got to be some more former pitchers out there.

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