It’s not a secret that MLB pitchers throw hard.
Hey, it’s definitely not easy to step on the plate and try to hit a 100 mph fastball at the letters.
The most impressive thing is that fastball velocity is increasing year after year.
Baseball has undoubtedly changed in the last 20 or 25 years.
Pitchers, back in the day, used to work longer, but didn’t throw as hard.
Nowadays, the starters usually don’t pitch past the fifth or sixth inning, but the average velocity is much higher than before.
This results in more prominence from relievers and also more injuries, due to the high-effort deliveries.
But the velocity part is actually jaw-dropping.
MLB writer James Smyth shared an anecdote with MLB star pitcher Charlie Morton that reflects the current reality of pitching around the league.
LRT One more from Charlie Morton: “You can go to any camp right now and it’s like: ‘Who’s that guy? Oh, he throws 97’”
% of MLB Pitchers w Fastball Avg of 93, 95, 97 MPH
93+ 28.5 60.1
95+ 8.9 24.0
97+ 0.7 6.6 (Statcast)
Velocity ↗️ 🚀
— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) March 22, 2022
“One more from Charlie Morton: ‘You can go to any camp right now and it’s like: ‘Who’s that guy? Oh, he throws 97’”, he tweeted.
The Numbers Are Impressive
After that quote, Smyth shared some numbers.
He said the percentage of pitchers averaging at least 93 mph in MLB was 28.5% in 2008, and 60.1% last season.
The numbers for 95+ and 97+ are also impressive.
To succeed in today’s game, it’s almost imperative to have a good fastball.
If that fastball has carry (or high spin efficiency, to prolong the effect of gravity and make it look like it actually rises), then even better.
Of course, command, control, and secondary pitches are still important, but a good, solid fastball will likely give guys at least a chance to survive in the big leagues.
Morton himself understood the importance of using the elevated fastball once he pitched for the Houston Astros in the mid-2010s.
The fastball remains the best and most useful pitch in MLB.