Five Fastest Pitchers in Baseball

Pace of pitch can be a crucial weapon in the quest for MLB glory

Aroldis Chapman has thrown the fastest recorded pitch in MLB history.

The 2021 MLB season is winding down and it’s been thrilling, so before the play-offs get started in just a matter of weeks, we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the most legendary hurlers of all-time.

Plenty of guys had to be left off here but deserve honourable mentions, including Randy Johnson. It was tough to narrow down, but here are the five hardest-throwing pitchers in MLB history.

Aroldis Chapman

Arolodis Chapman set the record for the fastest recorded pitch when as a rookie for the Cincinnati Reds he was clocked at 105.1 MPH (169.1KPH) for a pitch in September 2010, which is still the all-time major league record.

The pitching reliever has had his ups and downs over the years, spending the longest stretch of his MLB career with the Yankees, but throughout it all his unrivalled ability to turn up the heat has often made him one of the game’s most dominant closers.

During the 2014 season, Chapman hit 102 MPH or higher well over a hundred times. The rest of the league did it zero times.

These days more guys are hitting 100, so Chapman will always be a pioneer of this modern era of harder-throwing pitchers – kind of what Stephen Curry did in the NBA with bringing about the three-point revolution.

Nolan Ryan

Ryan might have some beef with Chapman being credited with the fastest pitch in MLB history, as back in 1974 Ryan threw a pitch that was clocked at 100.9 MPH.

However, researchers in the 2016 documentary ‘Fastball’ have alleged that the ball was tracked at a different point in its flight as it would’ve been today, and that the adjusted speed of that pitch was actually 108.5 MPH.

No matter who is right, Ryan is the undisputed fastball king of his era.

The craziest part about that aforementioned pitch? It came in the ninth inning of one of his starts.

Part of what made it harder for pitchers back in the day to throw as fast as they do today is the amount their arms were worked.

Joel Zumaya

Zumaya is easily the least well-known player on this list, but he deserves acknowledgement, as before Chapman, Zumaya had the record for fastest pitch in MLB history.

That was when he hit 104.8 MPH in the first game of the 2006 ALCS.

Pitchers who rely on velocity seem to be more prone than others to steep decline. A lot more can go wrong, whether that’s injuries or control issues.

Often power pitchers can become brief flashes in the pan and that’s exactly what happened with Zumaya.

Injuries derailed his career, and after that amazing 2006 campaign where he had a 1.94 ERA, he was never the same. He never pitched again in the big leagues after 2010.

Bob Feller

Let’s go back eras again and it’s nearly impossible to compare Feller to modern-day pitchers, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have some unreal speed.

Known as ‘The Heater from Van Meter,’ Feller unfortunately pitched in a time before it was as easy to measure velocity as it is now.

His other nicknames of ‘Bullet Bob’ and ‘Rapid Robert’ tell you all you need to know.

Joe DiMaggio once said of Feller, “I don’t think anyone is ever going to throw a ball faster than he does.”

Ted Williams also said he was the fastest pitcher he ever saw and you can’t get much better endorsements than those.

Jordan Hicks

Wrapping things up with Hicks, who is probably the hardest thrower in today’s game.

He opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, and has unfortunately been injured for most of this year, but don’t forget just how incredible his fastball can be.

In 2019 he led all pitchers in average fastball velocity, while in 2018, his rookie year, he tied Chapman for the fastest pitch in MLB history.

That same year, he had a game against the Phillies where he hit 104 MPH or higher five times in a single at bat.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.
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