Justin Verlander’s Wicked Fastball

When a starting pitcher tops 99 miles per hour on a pitch, people tend to take notice. When that pitcher does it five times to end his outing after more than 115 pitches prior, well, people really take notice. Justin Verlander added another notch to his fantastic season yesterday when he held the Boston Red Sox scoreless in eight innings at Fenway, helping the Tigers avoid a four-game sweep.

Verlander’s velocity deserves some attention. Not often do starters throw for an average fastball velocity of roughly 97 MPH. Even Verlander’s average fastball velocity on the season is 95 MPH. Not that I doubt Verlander’s ability to throw bullets, but I went through and compared yesterday’s average fastball velocities to the seasonal averages. Here’s what I found:

verlander

That seems to lend credence to the numbers, but if you assume the pitchfx machine recorded speeds 0.3 MPH faster than reality, then Verlander’s 100.1 reading loses some grander and becomes 99.8 MPH – typical batting practice speed – a less round, but just as impressive figure.

Verlander’s fastball was simply ethereal yesterday no matter how fast it went. 14 of 85 fastballs generated swings and misses. That’s 16.5% and simply ludicrous. When nearly one-fifth of the fastballs you throw result in the batter whiffing, then just might have a pretty special pitch at your disposal. Unsurprisingly, our pitch value numbers back the suggestion. Heading into yesterday’s start Verlander’s fastball was worth nearly two wins at 17.4 runs and that figure should increase after turning Fenway into his personal slaughterhouse.




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6 Responses to “Justin Verlander’s Wicked Fastball”

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  1. Chuck Hildebrandt says:

    And to think we might not have even signed him unless his dad contacted the Tigers directly after the team broke off talks with his original agent. Thank god for union men!

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/news/041023verlander.html

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  2. Eric Cioe says:

    In the first inning when he struck out Ortiz at 99 after throwing darts at 98 to him and Bay, Dennis Eckersley kept saying, “that’s one hairy fastball, but there’s no way he can sustain that.” And then the last pitch of his day registered 100 mph on Fenway’s gun, and all Eckersley can say is, “wow.”

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    • kris says:

      The “wow” was nice, but by no means can it hold a candle to the previous days offering:

      “My Glasses? I haven’t been to an eye doctor, I bought these at CVS”

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  3. Matt Harms says:

    I love hyperbole as much as the next guy, but it’s more accurate to say 1/6 fastballs resulted in whiffs rather than 1/5.

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  4. George H says:

    Keith Law had Verlander’s last three fastballs at 100 MPH, so maybe the Pitch F/X gun wasn’t off….

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  5. Matthew says:

    kershaws fastball seems to get many swings and misses too.. i think even more then verlander

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