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How hard did Yadier Molina throw that ball last night?

Sep 14, 2012, 1:00 PM EDT

Yadier Molina Getty Images

Still going back and admiring that Yadier Molina putout last night. Just wonderful.

In the post about it I wondered how hard he threw that ball.  There have been at least two attempts at explanations so far.  The first one I saw came from commenter Ryan:

And a radar gun would be way better, but some back-of-the-envelope math suggests he threw it around 85 mph.

distance from home to 2nd base: ~127 feet; the throw was caught a little short and off of 2nd, so ~125 feet
timing with a crappy cellphone stopwatch: ~1.0 seconds from release to catch
125 feet/second = 85 mph

A lot of potential error in the timing measurement, but mid-eighties is probably about right. I wonder any catchers can throw any harder?

Then commenter dan1111 added:

It’s even more impressive when you consider that pitch speed is measured at the release point. 85 mph average over that distance is at least a low 90s fastball.

Another attempt at measuring the velocity came from Larry Granillo of Baseball Prospectus. Well, smart people he  asked about it, but he published it.  It comes in at a much lower, but still impressive speed: out of the hand at 83, averaging 72 m.p.h.  Click through to see his methodology.

Either way: damn impressive for a catcher who did not have the benefit of a mound, a fully upright position, a big stride and a windup.

  1. jsally430 - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    kenley Jensen used to be a catcher did he not?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM

      Yep. As did Cardinals closer Jason Motte.

    • blues1988 - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:21 PM

      not sure about kenley jensen but the closer for the cardinals jason motte used to be a catcher as well. we also have another catcher turned pitcher in our farm system, there was an article on here about him a few weeks ago i believe.

      • Jeremy T - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:26 PM

        Ooohh, too slow

    • Alex K - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      So was Carlos Marmol.

  2. Old Gator - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Especially impressive for a guy who…ahem…”choked” during an at-bat the night before.

  3. dcfan4life - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    This is hilarious, one writer has 2 columns up about what a choke artist is and another one has 2 articles praising him as the best catcher in baseball with arguably the finest defensive skills from the catcher position in history. Such contrast, perfect way to get lots of responses haha.

  4. dcfan4life - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    This is hilarious, one writer has 2 columns up about what a choke artist he is and another one has 2 articles praising him as the best catcher in baseball with arguably the finest defensive skills from the catcher position in history. Such contrast, perfect way to get lots of responses haha.

  5. The Rabbit - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    No doubt, Yadi’s the man…but while you’re discussing catchers, you might also want to take a look at Kratz’s throw from his knees to get Schaefer at second last night. I’ve watched him do it at a game and it’s pretty awesome.
    (And no, I’m not a Phan.)

  6. rooney24 - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Not to imply he is anywhere in Yadi’s league as a catcher, but the Twins’ Drew Butera pitched an inning in a blowout earlier this year. I believe he had a couple of pitches in the 90′s. If 85 on Yadi’s throw would roughly equate low 90′s fastball, Butera’s arm may be as strong. Not to say he can throw out runners as well, because he doesn’t. There is more to throwing out runners than just the speed of the ball once you release it.

    • Jeremy T - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      I think it’s possible you’re understating the benefit that pitching from a mound out of a windup can give. Along with the fact that Molina had twice the distance to cover. I’d be curious to see if there’s any research out there on which catchers have the strongest throwing arms in the sport.

  7. sdelmonte - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    And suddenly I’m remembering Benito Santiago at his best. Catchers who can do such things are rare indeed.

    • dondada10 - Sep 14, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      I think it’s because if you have any sort of major-league gas you’re made into a pitcher.

      Probably why you don’t see too many left-hand throwing outfielders.

  8. phillyphannn83 - Sep 14, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    If Larry from baseball prospectus is correct, then Craig is going ga-ga over a throw that matches some 12 year old pitchers in the Little League World Series. I gotta be honest, I’ve seen at least 50 catchers make this throw in the last 25 years. Really Craig, when did you start watching baseball? All this was, was a perfect throw. Yeah it was great but not as rare as you are making it out to be. You sound like a 13 year old Beiber fan, grow up.

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