Major League Baseball batting averages are at their lowest in 2014 (.252) since 1972, while strikeouts are at their highest rate (7.70 per game) in baseball’s 144 years of recorded history. According to the players, flame-throwing relief pitchers deserve much of the blame. Instead of trying to knock out a team’s starter to get to the soft underbelly out in the bullpen, hitters are wary of the heat they face when managers call in relievers.
Indeed, in efastball.com’s list of pitchers who have thrown 102 mph or faster in MLB history, sixteen of the twenty-one listed hit their marks in the 2002 season or later. It is no longer a rarity in the game. While most come firing out of the bullpen in setup or closer roles, hitters are unlucky enough to see similar velocities from starters these days (the best averages 96.4 mph at press time).
Here are eight pitchers who have thrown pitches of 100 mph or better in 2014, according to PITCHf/x data on Fangraphs.com. Since PITCHf/x is the most scientific testing method, the results sometimes dispute what radar guns say and, in many cases, published reports of how fast pitchers have thrown. Stats are current as of August 7, 2014. Pitchers are listed from the “slowest” 100+ mph pitch thrown during the 2014 season to the fastest.
8. Gerrit Cole, Pirates
Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole went on the disabled list July 5, but not before the right-handed starter joined the century club in 2014 after hitting 100.0 mph in 2014. That wasn’t the highest velocity the young righty has clocked to date. In 2013, Cole hit 101.0 mph with a fastball. He is averaging 8.19 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) as a starter in 2014.