102 miles per hour "102 MPH," says Randy Johnson. It's hardly unexpected that Randy Johnson recorded a 102 MPH pitch, but what is remarkable is that this was Johnson's fastest pitch of his career, and it happened at the age of 40. Johnson's ferocious fastball was captured in 2004 while he was pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The video shows Johnson throwing one pitch at a time as the camera follows the ball from release to completion.
Here is how Johnson described the pitch: "A four-seam fastball, straight down the middle." That's right - it was not even close to being inside or outside. This pitch could have gone any which way, and yet, it came straight down the middle. That means that if you were standing there watching Johnson work, you would never know which arm was going to deliver the ball first. One moment it's hanging in the air, the next second it's flying toward the catcher's mitt.
Why did Johnson record such a high speed pitch? There are two reasons why this happens. First, coaches use speed pitches to teach young pitchers how to finish their deliveries and get the ball into the strike zone. Second, major league teams use the speed of a pitcher's fastball to judge how hard he is throwing. If they see him throwing very fast, they know he must be throwing harder than normal so they can prepare themselves for when he releases the ball.
According to the video, the fastest recorded pitch ever belongs to Nolan Ryan, a long-time MLB ace who once threw his nasty four-seamer at 108.5 miles per hour. According to the Game Haus, Ryan's fastest fastball on August 20, 1974, was really registered at 100.9. However, since no one else can verify this information, we're going with it.
Ryan used to say that he didn't try to beat anyone's record; instead, he just wanted to get the ball into the strike zone as fast as possible. While some pitchers tend to rush their delivery and give up outs on balls that others can handle, Ryan took his time and made sure every pitch was done correctly. As a result, he is considered by many to be the greatest pitcher in baseball history.
Of course, with statistics like these, it isn't hard to see why people think so highly of him: In an American League season, Ryan led all pitchers with 231 strikeouts and had a career batting average against of.188. He also has the unique distinction of being the only pitcher in MLB history to win 300 games.
It should come as no surprise then that Ryan himself is also the fastest pitcher ever, having recorded three pitches over 100 miles per hour during his Hall of Fame career. The first time he reached triple digits, he was still using a four-seam fastball.
On September 24, 2010, former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who is from Cuba, set the Guinness World Record for fastest pitch ever with a 105.1-mph fastball recorded by Statcast in a game against the San Diego Padres. The previous record was 104.9 mph, set by Matt Harvey of the New York Mets on August 26, 2014.
Chapman's fastball exceeded expectations, as he had pitched only four innings that season before breaking the record. He had surgery after the season to repair a herniated disc in his back.
The all-time leader in pitches thrown per game is John Smoltz with 834 pitches over 731 games. Smoltz retired after the 2000 season and has since been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. No pitcher has reached 300 career wins. Greg Maddux is the only pitcher to win more than 200 games, with 238. Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez are the only other pitchers with more than 100 wins.
John Franco was one of the first Cuban players to come to the United States. He arrived in January 1959 and signed with an American baseball team in Havana called the Cubans. He was 27 years old. In an eight-season major league career, he posted a 43-40 record with 447 strikeouts and a 3.45 ERA in 577 innings.