Faster than fast – the quickest pitches of 2009

by billfer on June 27, 2009 · 20 comments

in 2009 Season,Pitching

On Tuesday night Joel Zumaya threw a ball that the Comerica Park gun, and the Fox Sports gun clocked at 104mph. That is freakishly fast and a little hard to believe, at the very least there was probably some rounding up. A check of MLB.com’s pitch f/x data had the pitch 50 feet from home plate at 102.2mph. So the stadium gun was likely a little hot, but that is still obscene. It did make me curious about the fastest pitches thrown this season.

By my check the pitch f/x system has recorded 91 pitches that topped 100mph this season (through 6/25/09). Of those 91 pitches, they basically all belong to Zumaya.

Pitches 100mph+
Pitcher Pitches
Zumaya 84
Verlander 2
Jimenez 1
Parnell 1
Broxton 1
Lindstrom 1
Lowe 1
Total 91

 

If you order the pitches in descending order, Zumaya actually has the 38 fastest pitches this season (Justin Verlander had the 39th) and 57 of the 58 fastest. Zumaya has 28 pitches at 101mph or faster.

As for the fastest pitch this season? It wasn’t the pitch that finished Bradley which came in a 102.2. But it did come earlier in the at-bat when Zumaya hit 102.7. For good measure he came back the next day and hit 102.6 against Mike Fontenot. Those are the 3 pitches this season top the 102mph barrier.

 
 

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David June 27, 2009 at 11:15 am

How many of these would he have if he were in the starting rotation?

It’s cool and all, but since he has blown two games in the last week, I’d say it’s a textbook example that velocity is overrated. It is overrated especially if the guy doesn’t know how or when to use it to his advantage.

I’m wondering if
A) He is going to blow his arm out again with all this unneeded stress
B) He is never going to realize his natural talent potential (think best reliever ever due to those two plus plus pitches) with his 2 cent head.

Vegastigers June 27, 2009 at 11:40 am

They mean nothing, if they are not strikes, or at least close enough for the batter to swing.

Brenden June 27, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Three walks last night for Zumaya. That is how we lost that game. Why are the walks getting so high on this team all of a sudden? Without the walks, odds are they when that game.

Robo-Tiger June 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I’ll take 95 on the black.

ian June 27, 2009 at 1:30 pm

he was clocked at 105 last night but rod said the astros gun was way off. must have freaked out the crowd though..until he walked in a run.

Keith (Mr. X) June 27, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Well some here might remember Nolan Ryan. He walked over 200 hitters a few times during a single season. In 1972, when Ryan was 24, Zumaya’s age, he walked 116 with 137 k’s in 152 innings, with a 1.52 WHIP, and a 3.97 ERA. The Mets were stupid as heck and traded him after that season. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I’d hate to see us make the same mistake.

Zumaya without question has more potential to dominate than any pitcher in currently in the game. I’m not kidding either. The radar gun proves that. We just got to be patient with him and give him plenty of time to learn his craft. Keep in mind Zumaya has overcome a few major injuries already. The kid is amazing.

jud June 27, 2009 at 6:35 pm

the difference between Nolan Ryan and Joel Zumaya is not in the arm..its between the ears………

David June 27, 2009 at 7:53 pm

Well said Jud.

I’d take Smokey Joe Wood or Roy Halladay (both who threw/throw hard but knew/know how to locate) over a flamethrower any day of the week.

Again it isn’t how hard you throw that determines your success, it is being able to execute location and being able to play the mental chess game. Velocity is a plus and flashy(oooooooo, ahhhhhhhhhh) but not nearly as crucial as either location and movement.

It is the same in fielding. You can have the strongest arm in the world, but if it isn’t accurate – it’s useless.

billfer June 27, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I’d take Roy Halladay over pretty much anyone too.

Keith (Mr. X) June 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm

It sometimes takes a few years of experience for even the best. Roy Halladay had a 10.64 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP back in the year 2000 season when he was 23 years old. He gave up 42 walks and 107 hits in just 67.2 innings.

I don’t remember Zumaya ever being that terrible.

David June 27, 2009 at 9:39 pm

LOL

How dominant would a rotation of lets say

Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, Zack Greinke, Rick Porcello and Johan Santana?

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/6134/splits;_ylt=An7X.5ewHQC_V_V9IJDByLuFCLcF?year=career&type=Pitching

Did you realize that in his(Roy’s) career he is 12-2 against the Tigers with an ERA of 2.19 in 119 IP and a WHIP of .92?

He dominates us the most out of any other AL opponent.

Keith (Mr. X) June 27, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Halladay is a pleasure to watch, even when he beats the Tigers.

Carpenter is awesome now too, but early in his career he was not nearly this good. He had some poor seasons in Toronto.

Santana is probably the best of the bunch. Early in his career, I had doubts that he’d make it as a starting pitcher. I didn’t think he had the endurance to go deep into games and I thought he was too injury prone. Man, was I ever wrong. I try not to make assumptions like that anymore about any pitcher.

Grienke was not so great early on also.

Porcello is just a prodigy. We are lucky to have him.

billfer June 27, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Just to answer the next question, 27 of those 84 pitches were balls, 15 were put in play, 9 were called strikes, 13 fouls, and 18 swinging strkes.

David June 27, 2009 at 7:55 pm

How many were smacked for extra bases?

billfer June 27, 2009 at 8:36 pm

None. He gave up 5 singles on those pitches.

David June 27, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Oh, I wonder if that has held true for years past…

http://www.fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2006-05-20&team=Tigers&dh=0&season=2006

That was one of the biggest hrs he gave up that I was physically present for, it was to Ken Griffy Jr in 2006 (I believe he threw the pitch at 100+ and it went out at 100+ ). It was hit far back near the foul pole in RF.

Not sure where I could find data on that, assuming of course that someone had tracked & recorded it.

billfer June 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Oh, I’m sure he’s given up homers on pitches over 100. He throws so many of them that it’s bound to happen. I remember the Griffey one, and I remember one against the Orioles last year. It’s a reason I’m not upset with him throwing the change-up.

Coach Jim June 28, 2009 at 12:32 pm

There are 2 elements to mound work, throwing and pitching. I think the intent of this was supposed to illustrate how dominating Joel can THROW. Simply put, Joel Zumaya has the best arm in the majors. Sure, the pitching part (control/command/deception) can be erratic, but that’s true of everyone to some degree. Let’s not run the guy out of town like Jason Grilli because he had an off day. I prefer to look forward to his ON days.

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