For a major league pitcher, there’s no better display of badassery than hitting triple digits on the radar gun. But it takes more than just muscle to throw a baseball that hard.
Sure, you need a pretty strong body—from the legs, the core, the chest, and of course, your arm—but you also need the pitching mechanics, mental fortitude, and, yes, the strong elbow genes if you want to top 100 mph.
But even when you weed out all the rest, a few top-notch pitchers stand out. Whether they're starters, closers, relievers, or bullpen specialists, these guys send fans’ jaws clattering to the floor with their pitches. These pitchers may not be the largest or the most muscular players in the majors, but they almost definitely have the strongest arms.
Here are some of the hardest throwers in baseball right now:
The Cuban closer holds the title of the “Fastest Pitch in Baseball” after hitting 105 mph on the radar gun multiple times in his career—against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011 and against the Baltimore Orioles in 2016. The 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series champion and New York Yankees pitcher regularly clocks fastballs in the triple digits, and he may even have once clocked 106 mph, although that was disputed by MLB.com's Pitch/FX tracker, which clocked it at 105 mph. Either way, Chapman has a cannon for an arm.
The mighty “Thor” has a hammer for an arm—the hard-throwing New York Mets starter frequently touches 100 mph while pitching and averages between 95–99 mph on his fastball. At 6′ 6″, 240 pounds, Syndergaard is built more like a football player, which probably helps him put so much thunder behind his pitches. The pitcher told Men's Fitness that he's a “gym rat” and keeps his body in top shape by doing squats, free weights, bench presses, sled pushes, deadlifts, and even yoga and pilates.
During the 2015 season, Syndergaard was the second-ranked pitcher in baseball—behind Gerrit Cole of the Pirates and two ahead of teammate Matt Harvey—for percent of pitches thrown 95 mph or faster. Once, he literally branded Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki after one of his pitches bounced on the ground and hit Plawecki in the chest.
Jacob deGrom may not be as formidably jacked as his Mets teammate, but at 6’4”, 180 pounds, he routinely clocks into 90s with his fastball. He ranked 12th in the major leagues in 2015 in percent of pitches 95 mph or faster, and also averaged a career best 95.81 average velocity on his fastball. During the All-Star game in 2015, deGrom showed why he is one of baseball’s best young pitchers: The righthander had a near-perfect inning, striking out the side with only 10 pitches—nine strikes and one ball.
The New York native grew up a Yankees fan. Now, Betances is the last man standing of the “Big 3” bullpen in the Bronx—Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller were traded during the 2016 season. Betances is a huge dude—6′ 8″, 260 pounds—and he uses that frame to deliver some powerful pitches from the mound. A three-peat All-Star (2014-16), Betances averaged over 96 mph on his fastball during the 2013 season and frequently dials it up to the triple digits.
The Seattle Mariners reliever has been outstanding for the team after making his debut during the 2016 season. Diaz has taken over as the closer and has put up filthy numbers: The righty had 58 strikeouts in his first 31 innings of work—the most of any pitcher in the majors since 1913—and was averaging nearly 98 mph with his fastball. Diaz frequently hits 100 mph while on the mound, including in his first-ever MLB appearance, which ended with a strikeout against the Cleveland Indians.
Kimbrel has established himself as one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in baseball—and one of the best closers. The Boston Red Sox felt that Kimbrel’s arm was valuable enough to acquire him from the San Diego Padres for a package of prospects, and he hasn't disappointed: the four-time NL saves leader averaged a 97.3 mph fastball during the 2015 season, and he reached a max velocity of over 100 mph during the 2016 season. Kimbrel also knows how to dial it up when it counts the most—the pitcher jolted the radar gun with a 101 mph pitch for the Atlanta Braves during the 2013 National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Kansas City Royals reliever uses his overhand pitching motion to clock triple-digit pitches, once throwing 103 mph and averaging 97 mph, making him one of the hardest-throwing players in the MLB. In four of his first six seasons in the league, Herrera has thrown at least 101 mph—including in the playoffs against the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016.
The former number-one overall draft pick is a power pitcher, and his two fastballs—a four-seam and two-seam—regularly come over the plate between 94-98 mph. He's been clocked at 102 mph, and over the first four years of his career, his fastballs have averaged over 95 mph. During the 2015 season, Cole ranked first in the majors for percent of pitches thrown 95 mph or faster—hitting 100.3 mph on his fastest pitch that year.
Familia has emerged as a lights-out reliever for the New York Mets since taking over as the closer during the 2015 season—his streak of 52 straight saves is the third-most by any pitcher in MLB history. That success is founded on his high-powered fastball, which can reach over 100 mph and has averaged at least 95 mph in four of his first five seasons in the majors. In 2015 he set a career high with an average velocity of 96.4 mph.
With a name like Arquimedes Caminero, you’re bound to have a laser for a pitching arm. The former Pittsburgh Pirates reliever consistently throws into the triple digits, and he's even thrown as fast as 102 mph. During the 2015 season, Caminero averaged nearly 98 mph for his best pitch, and for a stretch in August of the 2016 season, his average fastball velocity reached nearly 99 mph. Talk about bringing the summer heat.