Hitting a baseball is hard enough as it is, no matter what level of the sport you're playing. Beer league hardball can prove challenging for even the most experienced of players, although one could argue that this is the result of many years of wear and tear, deteriorating eyesight and, Father Time's favorite, the "losing of a step."
So imagine, for a moment, being a professional baseball player, and not only having to deal with the best "stuff" any better will ever have to face, but also trying to keep up with a fireball bearing down on you at speeds faster than your beat-up Honda is allowed to go on the highway.
Many will argue that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. I would amend that statement, to make it a little more specific: hitting a 100 mph fastball is the hardest thing to do in sports.
It's remarkable to think that over the history of the sport, pitchers have come and gone, whipping triple-digit laser beams across the plate while somehow managing to, for the most part, keep their arms in their sockets while consistently hovering around 100 on the radar gun. Others haven't been as lucky, as their gift doubled as a curse - the exertion on their rocket-launching pitching arms too great to sustain for much longer than a couple of seasons.
No matter how long they last, one thing is for sure - the batters who had to face these fire-ballers still feel the whoosh of the ball sizzling by them in their dreams (and/or nightmares).
*All statistics gathered from www.efastball.com
15 15. Justin Verlander – 102.4 MPH (2011)
14 T13. Bobby Parnell – 102.5 MPH (2010 & 2011)
13 T13. Steve Dalkowski – 102.5 MPH (1958)
12 12. Jonathan Broxton – 102.6 MPH (2009)
11 T10. Bruce Rondon – 102.8 MPH (2013)
10 T10. Kelvin Herrera – 102.8 MPH (2012)
If you ask Brett Lawrie, he probably wouldn't be able to decide what scared him more: the thought of a Kelvin Herrera fastball coming anywhere near him, or the actual moment where the baseball whizzed by the back of his head.
9 9. Mark Wohlers – 103 MPH (1995)
8 T7. Bob Turley – 103.2 MPH (1954)
When they start calling you "Bullet" Bob, you know you've established yourself as one of the hardest throwers in baseball and, as it turns out, one of the hardest in the history of the league.
7 T7. Henry Rodríguez – 103.2 MPH (2010)
Henry Rodríguez is currently without a Major League Baseball team, and at this rate it seems unlikely that he'll be able to slide his way back into the big leagues. Even with his extraordinary velocity, Rodríguez bounced around the Majors and finished with a putrid career ERA of 4.31 in only six full seasons.
6 6. Andrew Cashner – 103.3 MPH (2012)
As if it wasn't bad enough that Andrew Cashner literally towers over most hitters as it is, his 6'5" frame casting a dark, ominous shadow towards the plate - now batters have to keep in mind that when he let's the pitch fly, it's really flying.
5 5. Neftali Feliz – 103.4 MPH (2010)
Some might say selecting a closer is a complicated choice for managers and pitching coaches to make. Others might make the decision fairly simple: find the guy who throws the hardest (assuming he can hit the plate, of course).
4 4. Joel Zumaya – 104.8 MPH (2006)
Joel Zumaya's story is a tale of highs and lows - more specifically, were talking high pitch speeds, low durability.
3 3. Aroldis Chapman – 105.1 MPH (2010)
Aroldis Chapman encapsulates everything that goes into being a "fireballer." The look, the attitude, the calm demeanor, the nickname (The Cuban Missile and/or Flame Thrower) and most importantly, the lethal arm. Chapman has been making batters look silly for years now, and at 27, he may still reach a new peak - even though, as it stands, he's technically already at the summit of the "fastball world."
2 2. Bob Feller – 107.6 MPH (1946)
Since were counting all recorded speeds, we're counting the final two on this list - and for good reason.
Another shocker here, since most of us who've seen guys pitch in grainy video from the 40s and 50s have the impression that these guys were soft-tossing the ball right into the batter's wheelhouse. That wasn't always the case, however.
1 1. Nolan Ryan – 108.1 MPH (1974)
No one should really be surprised by the name at the top.
Nolan Ryan is the gold standard when it comes to fastballs and fireballers, and even though Chapman has the "official" record, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who would have preferred to face Ryan. The league's strikeout king was the master of the fastball, using it early and often to send batter's right back to where they came from - the bench.
Ryan's blazing fastball was being used by the Angels to boost interest (and ultimately attendance), and the man's right arm was advertised more than the actual game between the Angels and the Tigers - and he didn't didn't disappoint.
Ryan's pitch speed is also calculated using today's "Fifty Foot Equivalent," but hey - it's Nolan Ryan. Is anyone really that skeptical?
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!