MLB

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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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 10:  Relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on April 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Reds 10-8
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 06:  Kyle Farnsworth #43 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches in relief in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during their MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 6, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Victor D
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    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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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 23: Brandon League #43 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Minnesota Twins during their game on May 23, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rockies won 6-5. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 29:  Aaron Crow #43 of the Kansas City Royals throws against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 29, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 28:  Pitcher Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox delivers to a Baltimore Orioles batter during the ninth inning of their 6-2 win at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Get
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    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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    DENVER, CO - JUNE 09:  Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 9, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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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    ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 01:  Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Atlanta Braves against the San Diego Padres at Turner Field on June 1, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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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    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 09:  CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox on June 9, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    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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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 10: Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during a MLB baseball game June 10, 2011 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. The Giants won the game 3-2. (Photo by Th
    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    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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    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10:  Starting pitcher Edwin Jackson #33 of the Chicago White Sox delivers the ball against the Oakland Athletics at U.S. Cellular Field on June 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  The White Sox defeated the Athletics 7-5.  (Photo by Jonatha
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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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    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 03:  Jonny Venters #38 of the Atlanta Braves against the New York Mets at Citi Field on June 3, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    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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    DENVER, CO - MAY 01:  Relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom #27 of the Colorado Rockies works against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh inning at Coors Field on May 1, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Pirates defeated the Rockies 8-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/G
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 11:  Joel Hanrahan #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates closes out the game against the New York Mets in the ninth inning during the game on June 11, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Pirates defeated the Mets 3-2.  (Photo
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    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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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 30:  Matt Thornton #37 of the Chicago White Sox delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox on May 30, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02:  Closer Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs  on May 2, 2011 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Broxton picked up the save as the Dodgers won 5-2.
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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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    DETROIT - JUNE 12: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the first inning during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 12, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 29:  Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on May 29, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 01:  Daniel Bard #51 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers on Opening Day at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    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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    ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 24: Reliever Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 08:  Pitcher Alexi Ogando #41 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Detroit Tigers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 8, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 5: Starter Josh Johnson #55 of the Florida Marlins pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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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    BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 11:  David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    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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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 29: Jordan Walden #51 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning of their game on May 29, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Angels defeated the Twins 6-5. (Photo by
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    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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    DETROIT - JUNE 11:  Michael Pineda #36 of the Seattle Mariners pitches in the fifth inning during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Mariners 8-1.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    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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    SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 7: Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on June 7, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    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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    DETROIT, MI - MAY 02:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a first inning pitch while playing the New York Yankees  at Comerica Park on May 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    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.

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