In 1974, Nolan Ryan became the first MLB pitcher to be tracked by a radar during a game. His fastball topped out at 100.8 miles per hour. But, experts have pointed out that Nolan Ryan's ball was being measured before it crossed the plate. Today, ball speed is recorded once it leaves a pitcher's hand. So, technically, Nolan Ryan's fastball could have been upwards of 108 miles per hour.
Currently, Aroldis Chapman holds the record for fastest recorded pitch speed with a 105.1 mph pitch on September 24, 2010. How long will that record stand with pitchers throwing faster? JustBallGloves.com tries to tackle the question, What is the fastest you can throw a baseball?
In 2017, professional pitchers accumulated 1,017 pitches that surpassed 100 mph. In 2007 there were only 196 such pitches. While fans have taken more interest in pitch speed, pitches haven't exactly increased in velocity. Part of this is how pitches have been measured:
- Radar guns now record a pitch speed from pitcher's release, rather than crossing the plate.
- Retroactive estimates believe Bob Feller's fastest pitch was 107.6 mph.
- Yes, there have been advances in baseball training and technology, but the variables involved (i.e. baseball, feet from the mound, etc.) have not.
A baseball is a sphere that weighs five ounces. It's also wrapped in leather. There aren't a lot of ways to maximize the speed of a pitch without reducing the weight of a baseball.
Additionally, a 100-mph fastball crosses home plate in less than 400 milliseconds. By comparison, a batter's swing takes (on average) 150 milliseconds. Given the reaction time, it's no surprise that so many batters swing-and-miss at a higher rate when a ball is triple-digits.
In conclusion, given the metrics involved and the minimal amounts of ways to maximize a pitch, don't expect to see a baseball thrown faster than 110 mph any time soon. In reality, Chapman's 105.1 mph fastball might be the fastest baseball pitch we see until the mound is altered or the ball is changed.
But, what do you think? Let us know in the comments.
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