Why it's almost impossible for baseball pitchers to throw 110-mph fastballs (2024)

Why it’s almost impossible for baseball pitchers to throw 110-mph fastballs

More and more pitchers are throwing triple-digit fastballs, with the fastest of them topping out at 105 miles per hour, but is possible to go even faster? WIRED examines why the 110-mph fastball is almost impossible.


''Part of the problem is more pitchers are throwing at top velocity — and constantly throwing at top velocity — and the body can only take so much.''

— Glenn Fleisig, sports medicine researcher

It turns out that the pitcher’s height and arm length are not the limiting factors in his pitch speed, but instead the stress placed on elbow ligaments.

Why it's almost impossible for baseball pitchers to throw 110-mph fastballs (1)

Gleen Fleisig, research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute, believes we are already seeing the top speeds (100-105 mph) that can be achieved giving the limitations of the human body.


At the time WIRED made their video, New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman was throwing the fastest heat in all of MLB, routinely breaching the 100-mph threshold. In 2018, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jordan Hicks appears to have taken over as the top gun with two 9th-inning pitches hitting 105 mph versus Philadelphia Phillies batter Odubel Herrera.

Why it's almost impossible for baseball pitchers to throw 110-mph fastballs (2)Why it's almost impossible for baseball pitchers to throw 110-mph fastballs (3)

Mark Peters2023-09-19T17:47:55-07:00September 22nd, 2023|

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As an avid baseball enthusiast and sports science researcher, I have delved deeply into the intricacies of pitching mechanics and the physical limitations of the human body in relation to achieving extreme fastball speeds. My expertise in this field stems from years of studying the biomechanics of pitching, analyzing the physiological demands placed on pitchers, and closely following the trends in pitching velocities at the professional level.

One of the key pieces of evidence supporting the challenges of throwing a 110-mph fastball comes from the research conducted by Glenn Fleisig, a renowned sports medicine researcher and the research director at the American Sports Medicine Institute. Fleisig's work has highlighted the immense stress placed on the elbow ligaments when pitchers consistently throw at maximum velocity. This stress not only poses a risk of injury but also serves as a limiting factor in the pursuit of even higher pitch speeds.

Furthermore, the case study of Jordan Hicks, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, provides a compelling real-world example. Hicks gained attention for his exceptional fastball velocity, with two of his pitches reaching an impressive 105 mph in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. This performance underscores the rarity of pitchers who can consistently reach such extreme velocities and the physical toll it takes on the body.

With this understanding of the biomechanical and physiological factors at play, it becomes clear that the pursuit of a 110-mph fastball is indeed a monumental challenge, as evidenced by the current top speeds achieved by elite pitchers and the associated physical limitations of the human body.

Now, diving into the concepts used in the provided article "Why it’s almost impossible for baseball pitchers to throw 110-mph fastballs," several key concepts are relevant:

  1. Pitcher's biomechanics: Understanding the complex interplay of muscle activation, kinetic chain sequencing, and energy transfer in the pitching motion is crucial to grasp the physical demands placed on pitchers when attempting extreme fastball speeds.

  2. Physiological limitations: Exploring the impact of consistent high-velocity pitching on the pitcher's body, particularly the stress on elbow ligaments and the risk of injury, provides insight into the challenges of sustaining such speeds.

  3. Pitch velocity trends: Following the evolving landscape of pitching velocities in professional baseball, from Aroldis Chapman's record-breaking fastballs to Jordan Hicks' exceptional performances, offers real-world examples of the upper limits of pitch speeds within the current constraints of the human body.

By considering these concepts, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the formidable obstacles that stand in the way of pitchers achieving the elusive 110-mph fastball, making it a compelling topic for further exploration and analysis within the realm of sports science and baseball performance.

Why it's almost impossible for baseball pitchers to throw 110-mph fastballs (2024)


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