Baseball fans have always been fascinated by pitchers who can throw blazing fastballs. Power pitchers like former American major leaguers Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, for instance, take advantage of speed to produce impossible-to-hit fastballs. Often, the fastballs reach top speeds of around 95mph to over 100mpg and tally huge strikeout totals.
The preoccupation with triple-digit fastball velocity is fueled by the fact that they are no longer an impossible feat. Data from Fangraphs, a provider of statistics for players in Major League Baseball History, reveals that over two dozen pitchers hit the 100-mph mark for their fastballs in 2015.
As a result, players are training to increase their pitching velocity and using their fastballs to dominate the field.
Specialized Bullpens Create Talented Pitchers
With the rise of specialized bullpens, pitchers are going through more rigorous and targeted training than their predecessors. Advancements in baseball technology like 3D analysis, for instance, help players improve overall mechanics and skill. Furthermore, modern approaches to conditioning and nutrition have made young pitchers stronger.
Pitching master, Tom House, the trainer of Hall of Fame fireballers Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, shares that improvements in strength training and intensive practice have helped players get their baseball skills up to speed.
Too much training can, however, have serious consequences. While data shows that strikeouts reached an all-time high in 2015 and home runs increased by 17% year over year, hard throwers are more likely to injure themselves and require extensive elbow reconstruction surgeries. Coaches, therefore, need to train their players responsibly
The Radar Gun Changed the Name of the Game
Both amateur and major league pitchers are throwing baseballs harder than ever. The Major League Baseball website records how more players are throwing high-speed fastballs every year: from only 11 major league players reaching an average of 95 mph or better on their fastball in 2005, the number climbed to more than 54 in 2015.
Some experts cite the use of speed measuring equipment as encouragement for daring pitchers to break records and astound audiences. Traditional forms of measuring baseball speed, which included special chronographs and special motorcycle tests, led players like Walter Johnson and Nap Rucker to make headlines.
It wasn’t until radar guns in baseball became common, however, that players started to outstrip the performance of their predecessors in terms of throwing speed. With speed measuring equipment more readily available to kids and their parents at young ages, it’s easier to track speed and help players progress in their training.
As pitchers get bigger and stronger, using a radar gun encourages players to perform better because it helps them set velocity goals and work hard to meet them. Furthermore, it shows the immediate results of using proper techniques when playing the sport.
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