Can You Name the Fastest Pitchers in MLB History?

By: Daniel Yetman
Image: Wiki Commons by Chuck Andersen

About This Quiz

Aroldis Chapman and Jordan Hicks currently share the title for hardest throwing pitcher of all-time. Both these pitchers have thrown pitchers measured at 105.1mph. However, changes in technology make it difficult to compare the speed of pitches across generations.

Older radars measured pitch speed as the ball crossed home plate. Modern Statcast technology measures pitch speed about 50 feet back from home plate. The new way of measuring pitch speed gives a higher reading because the ball experiences less air resistance at this point in the pitch. 

Nolan Ryan is known to be one of the fastest pitchers of all-time. When the modern-equivalent speed of his fastest pitch is estimated, it's thought that his fastball would have surpassed 108mph. 

As you're going through this quiz of the fastest pitchers of all time, you may notice that many of the historical greats don't appear here. Having a blistering fastball is awesome, but it doesn't guarantee success. Many of the best pitchers have found success by mixing their pitches and putting nasty movement on the ball. 

Do you think you can hit a home run by naming all of these fastball pitchers? If you think you're an MLB expert, begin this quiz now!

Randy Johnson put together one of the most impressive careers of any player to ever play the game. He won the Cy Young Award four years in a row from 1999 to 2002. He had more than 300 strikeouts six times in his career.

Aroldis Chapman threw an insane 105.1mph fastball when he was pitching for the Reds in 2010. Like most pitchers who rely on their fastball, Chapman has struggled with control at times. However, he still boasted a lifetime ERA of 2.25 heading into the 2019 season.

C.C. Sabathia has been going strong since the early 2000s. He won the CY Young Award in 2007 with the Indians, and he has still been putting up solid numbers since then. From 2016 to 2018, he finished with an ERA less than 4.00 each year.

Sandy Koufax was best known for keeping a high strikeout rate while rarely walking a batter. His career ended when he was 30 due to arthritis in his pitching elbow. Perhaps the most dominant year of his career was 1963 when he won both the Cy Young and MVP award in the National League.

J.R. Richard was throwing heat before he had an on-field stroke caused by a blood clot from which he would never recover. After his baseball career, he was homeless before becoming a Christian minister

Armando Benitez currently has the 25th most saves of any MLB pitcher. He played in the league from 1994 to 2008 and had his longest stint with the Orioles. His fastest pitch came in 2002 when he tossed a 102mph fastball.

Bob Feller is thought to have pitched as fast as 107mph, although that's an approximation based on the technology of the time. Over 18 seasons in the majors, Feller struck out more than 2,500 batters, so at the very least, he would have been one of the fastest hurlers of his era.

Tayron Guerrero reached 101.7mph in the first month of the 2019 season. As of May, he was the second fastest pitcher in the league. Jordan Hicks leads the 2019 season with a 104.2mph fastball.

Wood's real name was Howard Ellsworth, but that doesn't have the same ring to it as Smoky. He helped the Red Sox win three World Series in the 1910s-1920s. He also pitched a no-hitter in 1911.

Pedro Martinez had a small build compared to most pitchers. Even though he was only 5 feet, 11 inches tall, he pitched over 300 strikeouts in a season twice in his career. He retired with an amazing 3,154 career strikeouts and a lifetime 2.93 ERA. Keep in mind that he also pitched in an era when guys were hitting 73 home runs a season.

In 2005, Bobby Jenks threw a 102mph fastball. Over the next five years, he went on to record more than 150 strikeouts with the White Sox before finishing his career in Boston with the Red Sox.

It's difficult to know how fast guys from the 1800s would throw if they had access to modern technology and training. Tony Mullane was one of the best strikeout pitchers of his generation, but as is often the case, great speed comes with wild pitches -- 343 wild pitches to be exact.

Juan Marichal was a 10-time All-Star throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. He also threw a no-hitter in 1963. Not surprisingly, his resume was impressive enough to land him a spot in Cooperstown in 1983.

We're not saying that Brian Wilson was a successful closer because of his beard. But the beard probably didn't hurt. He had a career-high 48 saves with the Giants in 2010 and tossed a 102.2mph fastball in 2009.

Jose Fernandez threw 100.2mph in 2016 as a member of the Miami Marlins. He died in a boating accident later that year. He had one of the best seasons of any pitcher in 2016 before his death.

He may have only pitched for five seasons before his body broke down, but he threw some blistering fastballs during that time. In his rookie season, he launched a 104.8mph pitch against the slugger Frank Thomas.

Mark Wohlers set the record for the fastest pitch measured with modern technology until Joel Zumaya broke his record. Wohlers pitched in relief for his entire career and recorded 557 career strikeouts.

Jordan Hicks is only 22 years old and he has already tied for the fastest pitch in MLB history. Will he be the first man to throw a confirmed 106mph fastball? Only time will tell, but the Cardinals sure hope so.

His fastest pitch may not have come in an official MLB game, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. His 103.3mph pitch put him in elite company amongst the fastest pitchers in history.

The technology to measure pitches during games didn't exist during Dalkowski's career. When pitching into a machine called a chronograph that could measure pitch velocity (and adjusted for the modern way of measuring pitch velocity), his top pitch was measured around 102.5mph.

Nolan Ryan is the all-time strikeout leader. His 5,714Ks is almost 1,000 strikeouts ahead of the second place Randy Johnson. Pitch velocity in Ryan's day was measured over the plate while today it's measured in front of the plate so it's hard to compare his velocity with modern pitchers. It's thought that by using today's technology, his fastball might be 108.1mph.

In his rookie season, Matt Lindstrom tossed a baseball at a blistering 102mph. He pitched in the league for eight years and split time between Florida, Colorado, Houston, Baltimore, Arizona, and Chicago.

Kelvin Herrera had the fastest pitch of his career in 2013 at 102.8mph. In the same season, he struck out 77 batters in 84 innings. Throughout his career, he's averaged almost a strikeout per inning.

Feliz threw a 103.4mph fastball in 2010, making him the third fastest pitcher of all-time as measured with modern technology. Only Aroldis Chapman had a confirmed faster pitch.

A.J. Burnett was a consistently solid pitcher throughout most of the 2000s. He led the league in strikeouts in 2008 with 231. In 2005, he pitched a 101mph fastball, putting him in an elite company of guys who have gone 100mph+.

In 2009, Broxton pitched 102.6mph while closing for the Dodgers. He moved around the league throughout his career with five different teams. His career high in saves was 36, also in 2009.

In his 11- year career, every single one of Lowe's appearances came in relief. The fastest pitch of his career came in 2006 when he threw a 102mph fastball. He's currently pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Unfortunately, Henry Rodriguez never found his control. Even though he managed to throw over 103mph, he also led the league in wild pitches in 2011 and consistently had a high walk rate.

Trevor Rosenthal started his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He has pitched as a starter, closer and in various bullpen roles throughout his career. He has thrown his fastball over 100MPH.

In 2011, Bruce Rondon hit 102.8mph with his fastball. According to Rondon, his dad is a huge Bruce Lee fan and named his son after the kung fu master. He elected free agency in July of 2018.

Rube Waddell was known for his unpredictable personality. In exhibition games, he used to wave his teammates off the field and strike out the side. In an actual game, he called in the outfielders to sit on the grass to watch him strike out three men. Talk about confidence!

Ed Walsh led the league in strikeouts twice in his career, in 1908 and 1911. He also holds the record for lifetime ERA at an amazing 1.82 ERA. As impressive as it would be to have a 1.82 ERA in one season, Walsh did it over a 13-year career.

Felipe Vazquez began his career with the Nationals and is currently playing with the Pirates. His fastest pitch so far in the 2019 season is 101.4mph, which was against Joey Gallo on May 7.

Brad Lidge put up almost 800 strikeouts in his 11 years in the league. In his entire career, he started a total of one game. In 2006, he pitched a 102mph fastball measured on the radar.

Bobby Parnell threw his fastest pitch in 2011 against Miguel Cabrera. The pitch tracked at 102.5mph, but unfortunately, he threw it as a ball. After pitching with the Mets for several years, Parnell spent a year with the Tigers.

Justin Verlander was one of the game's elite pitchers with the Tigers. After having a few down years, he regained his success after moving to Houston. He pitched a 102.4mph fastball to Adrian Beltre during the 2011 campaign.

Mauricio Cabrera made it to the majors with the Atlanta Braves in 2016. He hit 103.8mph with his fastball, which makes him one the fastest pitchers of all time. He's still only in his mid-20s, so we may see him back in the league.

He has the nickname 'Tsunami' and in 2014, he broke 100mph with a 100.1mph fastball. He has pitched his entire career with the Cardinals and has a career 3.37 ERA. He was an All-Star in 2015 and 2017.

It's hard to say how fast Walter Johnson threw because the technology wasn't available to accurately measure his pitches while he was playing. He broke the all-time record for strikeouts before Nolan Ryan eventually broke it more than 50 years later.

Joe Kelly has pitched as a starter and reliever. His last start came in 2016 with the Red Sox. In 2017, he pitched a 102.2mph fastball, which made him the third hardest throwing pitcher that season.

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