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Who are the hardest-throwing pitchers in baseball?

May 2, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT

Yordano Ventura Royals AP

Reds flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman is almost ready to return from facial fractures, but in the meantime the Hardest-Thrower In Baseball title belongs to someone new.

Here are the leaders in average fastball velocity after one month of the season among pitchers with at least 10 innings, according to Fan Graphs:

STARTERS             MPH
Yordano Ventura     96.7
Nathan Eovaldi      96.0
Garrett Richards    95.9
Gerrit Cole         95.6
Jose Fernandez      95.4

Ages of the five starters with the fastest average fastballs: 22, 24, 25, 23, 21. And apparently being named Garrett/Gerrit helps, too. My crush on Yordano Ventura is well-documented in this space, but suffice it to say that the Royals rookie is living up to the hype, velocity-wise and performance-wise, leading all starters with both a 96.7 mph fastball average and a 1.50 ERA. He’s a bad, bad man.

RELIEVERS            MPH
Kelvin Herrera      97.1
Carlos Martinez     97.0
Jordan Walden       96.7
Jake McGee          96.7
Trevor Rosenthal    96.2

Just for some context, Chapman averaged 98.3 mph with his fastball last season. St. Louis places setup man Carlos Martinez and closer Trevor Rosenthal in the top five velocity list and Jake McGee of the Rays is the only left-hander in either top five.

Oh, and the softest-thrower in baseball? Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 82.0 mph, followed by slop-slinging southpaws Mark Buehrle at 83.2 mph and Bruce Chen at 83.9 mph.

  1. imnotyourbuddyguy - May 2, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Tyler Kolek throws harder than any of em

    • renaado - May 2, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      Still knowin what his average speed is…

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 2, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        He’s been hitting 100-102 repeatedly this year and routinely clocked in the high 90’s this season.

        “The Tarkington hitters stood in tough but could not touch the 6-5 right-hander’s heat. The guns were registering pitches at 97 and 98 repeatedly, with one fireball coming in at a round 100 mph.

        The triple-digit heater led to a chorus of hushed wows and I saw one scout rush to send a text to document the event. The first two hitters for Tarkington went down on strikes, and I began to wonder if anyone would put the ball in play against Kolek as he continued to hang in the high 90s. That question was quickly answered by Tarkington’s No. 3 hitter, who managed to smack a routine grounder to second base that was handled with ease to end the inning.

        In the second and third innings, Kolek continued to look utterly dominant. He rarely strayed from his fastball, and struck out all six batters that came to the plate in the two frames. His mammoth fastball continued to hang between 95 and 97, with few pitches coming in at less than 94 mph. He worked quickly and confidently, pounding the zone relentlessly with heat like an 18-year-old Jonathan Gray.”

        Gleeman said Baseball, not just Major League Baseball

      • renaado - May 2, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Amazing, certainly some good stuffs here. Truly thankful for showin me this.

    • hk62 - May 2, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      This is average – not max, he’d probably make the starter list though or be on the fringe (at 18 years old!). By comparison, Folty (you know who that is if you follow the ‘Stros) sat in the mid 90’s and occasionally hit triples in HS (Chicagoland area) – he’s gained about +4 mph in the minors. If Kolek can gain 4 mph – OMG!

      No High School RHP has ever gone 1/1 – this could be the year.

    • clydeserra - May 2, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      “Gleeman said Baseball, not just Major League Baseball”

      [rolls eyes] lighten up, francis.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - May 2, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        How much lighter do to need it?

  2. psuorioles - May 2, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Ventura really impressed me against the O’s… we was great and the Royals have a good one there.

  3. natstowngreg - May 2, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    R.A. Dickey’s average seems high for a knuckleballer. It is. Buehrle and Chen are classic “soft-tossers.”

    When I first saw Dickey for the first time in-person, at Nats Park, it seemed he was throwing a lot of change-of-pace fastballs at 74-78. But no, he was throwing his knuckler that fast. The distinguishing thing about Dickey is how hard he throws a knuckleball.

    We could compare Dickey’s knuckleball to Livan Hernandez, whose fastball war around 85, but was complemented by a wide variety of junk, a lot of it even slower. Including a pitch at 58-60 (more in the range of Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball). More recently, I’ve seen Bronson Arroyo throw a change-up that slow.

  4. jeffbroyhill - May 2, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Kind of misleading, Strasburg is the only one remotely close to Chapman. Really good pitchers like Verlander are giving different variations to their fastballs.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 2, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Have a fastball that fast can be very forgiving. I have seen some ugly swings against Ventura on 55-foot breaking stuff. Guys are go geared up for the heat they just can’t adjust properly to the soft(er) stuff, like a 90mph changeup

    • stlouis1baseball - May 2, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      On point CC. When dudes throw this hard guys must look fastball, fastball, fastball then make the adjustment(s). Otherwise, they simply don’t have time to adjust to the fastball. Hell…it’s already by them, in the Catcher’s mitt and on it’s way back to the Pitcher. For the record…I laughed at the 90MPH changeup being considered “softer.” Of course, when dudes are throwing bb’s at these speeds 90 MPH is considered “soft.” Lol!

  6. notsofast10 - May 2, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    An interesting study would be to see how those numbers compare to 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and 30 years ago. I have been watching baseball for 45 years and it seems there is quite a large spike in velocities over the last 10 years or so. I just watched an old video of Randy Johnson from 2002 and the announcers were coming unglued because the Big Nasty was throwing 96.

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