MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Hardest Throwers in the Majors Right Now

Joey HnathCorrespondent IJune 14, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Hardest Throwers in the Majors Right Now

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    One of the biggest fascinations in baseball is the velocity of pitchers.

    Flamethrowers like Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson have fascinated fans with their heat.

    In today’s game, there are several pitchers whose fastballs average in the mid-to-high 90’s.

    Instead of simply listing the 25 hardest throwers based on highest average fastball velocity, there are other factors that impact their positioning on the list.

    Not only is their average fastball velocity included, but how often they use their fastball, the speed of their curveball and how effective they are as a pitcher with their cheese.

    Using these factors, here are the 25 hardest throwers in the majors right now.

25. Kyle Farnsworth

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    For years, Kyle Farnsworth has been one of the hardest throwers in the game, averaging a 95.1 mph out of the ‘pen.

    However, his inability to get hitters out, as well as his tendency to throw that fastball right over the center of the plate, has made him very hittable over the years.

    Even though he has been one of the hardest throwers in the game for many years, Farnsworth barely makes the list because of his lack of precision with his fastball.

24. Brandon League

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    Brandon League’s fastball average is 95.5 for the 2011 season, which is in the top-15 in the majors for relievers.

    With that electric fastball, League has been a great closer to Seattle this year, notching 18 saves thus far.

    Those 18 saves are tops in the American League.

23. Aaron Crow

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    Royals’ rookie pitcher Aaron Crow has pitched well this season, going 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA out of the bullpen.

    Crow could be the Royals’ closer of the future, especially with his 95.4 mph fastball.

    His fastball is one of four pitches in his arsenal, and keeps batters on their toes.  Crow has a long and successful big league career ahead of him.

22. Jonathan Papelbon

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    Jonathan Papelbon has always has heat, and he’s showing it off in 2011.

    Papelbon is throwing his 94.6 mph fastball 70% of the time, and it continues to baffle hitters.

    The Boston closer currently has 12 saves and is well on his way to another 30-save season.

21. Clayton Kershaw

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    Clayton Kershaw has emerged as the Dodgers’ ace over the past couple seasons.

    With his fastball that he throws 70% of the time, which averages 93.1 mph, Kershaw has accumulated 599 strikeouts since 2008.

    Kershaw will continue to improve and will one day be a Cy Young Award winner.

20. Craig Kimbrel

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    Craig Kimbrel has successfully taken the reigns from Billy Wagner as the Atlanta closer.

    With his 95.8 mph fastball, which is sixth the bigs, Kimbrel has recorded 18 saves and struck out 48 batters in 32 innings.

    Kimbrel has a long career ahead of his, and throwing that hard will help him rack up even more saves.

19. C.C. Sabathia

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    C.C. Sabathia has been one of the majors best pitchers for years now, and a large part of that success is due to his fastball.

    Sabathia throws his fastball at 93.7 mph.  Combine that with an 80 mph curveball, and hitters are very unbalanced when they face Sabathia.

    His use of his fastball, combined with the disparity between his fastball and curveball, make his fastball that much more effective and seem faster than it is.

18. Brian Wilson

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    Giants’ close Brian Wilson owns the fourth fastest pitch over the past three years with an average of 96 mph.

    That pitch, combined with his cutter, has made him one of the best closers in the game.

    The hard throwing close really has made opposing players “Fear the Beard”.

17. Edwin Jackson

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    Although he is sometimes a bit erratic, Edwin Jackson is one of the hardest throwers in the game.

    Jackson is averaging 94.1 mph with his fastball in 2011, which is good for fifth among starters.

    Last year, he used his fastball to throw his first career no-hitter.

16. Jonny Venters

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    Though his fastball is only 94.4 mph, Jonny Venters still makes this list.

    Venters throws that fastball 80% of the time, and he has been the most dominating reliever in 2011.

    Venters is 4-0 with a 0.44 ERA out of the Atlanta bullpen this year and is well on his way to being named an All-Star.

15. Matt Lindstrom

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    Matt Lindstrom owns the second highest average fastball velocity over the past five years at 96.3 mph.

    The middle reliever has found success this year in Colorado as their setup man, recording two saves with a 2.73 ERA.

    If anything should happen to Huston Street, Lindstrom would step in to be the Rockies’ closer.

14. Joel Hanrahan

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    Joel Hanrahan has had a successful year thus far as the Pirates’ closer, recording 17 saves.

    He is second in the majors in fastball velocity among relievers with an average of 97.3 mph, and he throws his fastball 83% of the time.

    That fastball will keep him as the Pittsburgh closer as long as he continues to be able to locate it.

13. Matt Thornton

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    Matt Thornton’s fastball averages 95.5 mph.  However, he throws this pitch 85% of the time.

    He can get away with doing this because he has a great 84 mph slider to offset it.

    Those two pitches combined have made him one of the better relievers in the game.

12. Jonathan Broxton

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    Jonathan Broxton has been one of the hardest throwers since becoming the Dodgers’ closer.

    He averages 96 mph with his fastball, and at one time was one of the best closers in the game.

    Although he has run into a few speed bumps during the past year, Broxton can still turn it around and rise on this list.

11. Felix Hernandez

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    Felix Hernandez has been throwing gas ever since he arrived in the big leagues.

    The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner is throwing 93.5 mph this season on average.

    Combine that with his 81 mph curveball, and Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in the game.

10. Neftali Feliz

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    Originally groomed to be a starter, Neftali Feliz has turned into one of the best closers in the game for the Rangers.

    Over the past two seasons, Feliz has 53 saves, thanks in large part to his 95.2 mph fastball he throws 82% of the time.

    With continued success, it’ll be difficult to move Feliz out of the closer role.

9. Daniel Bard

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    Over the past three seasons, Daniel Bard has had the fastest pitch amongst relievers in baseball at 97.6 mph.

    As Boston’s setup man, Bard throws his fastball 72.5% of the time.

    With a fastball like that, Bard will end up being a closer one day.

8. Aroldis Chapman

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    Although his fastest pitch may faster than everyone else’s, Aroldis Chapman isn’t considered the league’s hardest thrower on this list.

    Chapman has been too inconsistent and is struggling to stay in the majors right now.

    Even if he can throw 106 mph, it doesn’t do him any good if he can’t locate it and get batters out.

7. Alexi Ogando

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    Alexi Ogando has been a revelation for the Rangers in 2011.

    After being named to the rotation, Ogando has gone 7-0 and has the fourth fastest pitch in the big leagues at 94.5 mph.

    Although there have been rumors of Ogando heading to the bullpen, it looks like he has pitched his way out that scenario and will remain in the rotation.

6. Josh Johnson

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    No one denies that Johnson is one of the hardest throwers in the game with his 94.6 mph fastball over the past two seasons.  It’s staying on the field that’s his problem.

    Johnson is starting to become a bit injury prone, with DL trips the past two seasons.

    When healthy, he is one of the best with his fastball, but staying healthy is his biggest obstacle.

5. David Price

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    Rays starter David Price has emerged as one of the game’s best young pitchers since his arrival in 2008.

    Behind his 94.8 mph fastball, which is third in the majors this year, Price has gone 7-5 with 89 strikeouts in 2011.

    Price finished second in the AL Cy Young voting last year, and with that fastball, he is sure to win one in the near future.

4. Jordan Walden

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    Jordan Walden’s rookie season has been a success so far, recording 15 saves while striking out 33 in 29 innings.

    Part of Walden’s success is due to his fastball, which is the fastest among both starters and relievers at 97.6 mph.

    That fastball will continue to give Walden success throughout his young career.

3. Michael Pineda

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    Seattle’s Michael Pineda has been one of the pitchers in the American League this year and is on the short list for both the AL Rookie of the Year and Cy Young.

    Pineda has used his major league leading 95.4 mph fastball to go 6-4 with 80 strikeouts in 2011.

    Pineda is one of the hardest thrower in the game, and the young Mariners pitcher could end up being the hardest thrower in the game before his career is over.

2. Ubaldo Jimenez

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    Over the past five seasons, Ubaldo Jimenez is the hardest thrower in the game.

    During that time span, Jimenez’s fastball has been 95.5 mph.

    Jimenez broke out in a big way last year, especially with his no-no against the Braves.

    He’s gotten off to a rocky start this season, but with that fastball, he’ll be able to regain his 2010 stuff.

1. Justin Verlander

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    Over the past three seasons, Justin Verlander has the second highest average fastball velocity at 95.5 mph.

    Couple that kind of velocity with two career no-hitters, and Verlander is the hardest thrower in the game today.  He even reached 100 mph with his fastball in the ninth inning of his latest no-no.

    This season, Verlander is 7-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 93 strikeouts and is one of the favorites for the American League Cy Young.

    Verlander’s velocity combined with his how well he has pitched as of late is what puts him at the top of this list.