MLB…The 110 MPH Fastball…
Think for a minute about the hardest throwing pitchers that you have ever heard of. Who did you come up with? Bob Feller? Nolan Ryan? Aroldis Chapman? Someone else? That’s okay, because those are a few of the guys I came up with as well. A pitcher like Mark Wholers once had his fastball clocked at 103 mph. Neftali Feliz’s fastball was once clocked at 103.4 mph during a game in Texas, a speed that is third all-time behind only Aroldis Chapman (105.1 mph) and Joel Zumaya (104.8 mph). I am not going to include the stories of guys who could supposedly throw harder than these guys with no numbers to back it up. There are tales of pitchers who could supposedly hit in the 106-107 range, but these are stories, not facts. There are tales of Krakens, Loch Ness Monsters and Bigfoot too, but they aren’t included here either.
What I am wondering is whether or not if someday there will be a pitcher who hits 110 mph on the JUGS Gun? Can the human arm tolerate such a violent strain? Is he human body, whose physiology is really not made to throw a ball overhand the way we do, capable of throwing a ball that hard? Did you ever watch fastpitch softball pitchers? These people can throw game after game with virtually no arm issues. Why? Because the human body (and arm) is more ready made to throw a ball underhanded. By comparison, baseball pitchers do not, and that is where the trouble starts.
Back to baseball pitchers. If we look at the deliveries of some of these guys, we have to wonder how their arms don’t just fly off and land in the third row. Look at Tim Lincecum or Aroldis Chapman. Go back a little and you can study the pitching motions of Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, J.R.Richard, or Randy Johnson. These guys all had hard, violent deliveries, and could all throw at 100mph+ on occasion. But that brings up a question. In spite of these wild pitching deliveries, none of them ever topped 102mph, with the exception of Chapman. So if we were to calculate how many thousands of pitchers have pitched at the major league level, times how many of these pitchers hit 110 mph, the answer will be ‘zero’. Why then, in this collection of thousands of pitchers has only ONE, Aroldis Chapman, hit even 105 mph?
Bob Gibson was 6’1”. Bob Feller was 6’0”. Neftali Feliz is 6’3”. J.R. Richard and Randy Johnson are 6’8” and 6’10” respectively. But Tim Lincecum is only 5’11”. We can write off height as the determining factor in pitch speed. There is a lot of biomechanics, kinesiology, and physiology out there that all provide some insight in to what makes one pitcher throw harder than another. Lever length, ligament and tendon strength, and throwing motion all are part of the discussion, and is way too long of a discussion to be had in this short space.
So I put it to you. Will we ever see a major league pitcher hit 110 mph with a pitch? My thought is that with the modern training methodologies, better nutrition, and improvements in analysis through sports science, it will someday be possible. I couldn’t say when, but consider this… it has taken one baseball pitcher over 100 years to hit 105.1 on the radar gun…one time. My bet is that it will happen, but not very soon. I welcome your thoughts and comments.
MLB…The 110 MPH Fastball…