“Strike three, you’re out!” is presumptively the only time an umpire’s voice rings like music to the ears of any National League pitcher.
Over the years, the average pitching speed of players has increased by a great measure. Nowadays, pitching upward of 100 mph is universally viewed as the norm. For those looking to make it to the Major League, a solid fastball across home plate is all a young star needs to be recognized by scouting agents.
There are countless techniques and training methods, but what it really comes down to is a player’s natural-born talent and dedicated practice. No matter how a player’s skill is acquired, the numbers coming off the speed radars are mind-blowing, and they’re only getting higher.
Using data from MLB Statcast, excluding any pitchers that have thrown less than 100 pitches, we decided to take a look at the National League’s fastest pitchers around. Read on to find out which pitchers are smokin’ batters on a regular basis and watching them saunter back to the dugout.
Top of the Order
Batters beware. When you see these names step up to the mound, expect some neck-snapping moves. The most defining attribute of Arquimedes Caminero – pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates – is his impressive ability to succeed with more than one pitch type; he topped the league’s record board by pitching his entire repertoire at an average of 95.54 mph.
It’s no surprise that Noah Syndergaard, or Thor as fans call him, dominates the charts with some of the fastest pitch types in the league. Syndergaard, who hails from Dallas (or possibly Asgard), was acquired by the New York Mets during a 2012 trade deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. He has been quite a figurehead in the franchise ever since. By turning in his hammer for a baseball, Syndergaard quickly surpassed his rookie status. Mr. Goldilocks has also built a nice resume for himself by throwing the fastest four-seamer (97.98 mph), sinker (97.98 mph), slider (91.22), and changeup (89.83).
Stepping up to the mound at Turner Field, Arodys Vizcaino – pitcher for the Atlanta Braves – throws the hardest two-seamers around town at 97.44 mph, treading closely behind Syndergaard’s four-seamer.
For a small change of pace, Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws the meanest cutter ball, crossing the plate at 95.54 mph. The cutter ball is a pitch that branches off the four-seam pitch and is thrown with the intention of rearing off to the opposite side of the batter at the last minute. On the other hand, Carlos Matias of the St. Louis Cardinals, mastered the 12-6 (picture the hands on a clock) movement of the curveball – pumpin’ ’em out at 84.74 mph. A difficult pitch to fling at high speeds due to the focus put into throwing it with a downward spin to enable the slight “curve” as it crosses home plate.
Strike Out the Side
For those not up to date with the latest pitching lingo, a break refers to the sudden change in direction that a thrown pitch takes while crossing home plate. The National League recognizes Arizona Diamondbacks seasoned player, Brad Ziegler, as the pitcher with the longest average break at 11.75 inches! Ziegler most likely has all opposing batters shaking in their cleats when he takes the mound; just a heads up fellas – expect a curveball. One of the most defining features of a pitcher is not only how fast they can throw the ball, but also how precise they can be. The Los Angeles Dodgers have recently acquired Zach Lee, also known as the pitcher with the straightest fastballs. Speed and precision are a deadly combo for any batter to face-off against, which is why the Dodgers invested in this talent. When it’s all said and done, keep your eyes peeled when these flamethrowers approach the field.
Some argue that pitching is nothing more than a specific methodology with science behind it, while others claim it’s an art form with many tools to choose from. No matter how one looks at it, the ultimate goal of any pitcher who takes the mound is to perfect all pitch types with great speed and precision. Some of the league’s best throw many pitches well, while the all-stars tend to stick to the ones they’ve mastered.
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