Who threw the 10 fastest pitches in MLB history?

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (45) follows through on his pitch to the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning at Globe Life Field.
Texas Rangers relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (45) follows through on his pitch to the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning at Globe Life Field.

In today's MLB, velocity is king. Who needs a UCL when you can touch triple-digits with your fastball or with a slider that breaks across the plate, right? Between 2000 and 2023, the average fastball velocity from starting pitchers increased drastically from around 89 miles per hour to over 94 miles per hour, and it only continues to rise.

Although velocity doesn't ensure success at the MLB level, pitchers who throw hard tend to get more swings and misses from their opponents. That's often enough to warrant a spot on MLB rosters.

With all that said, 95 mph is no longer considered elite velocity. It seems like everyone on every roster can reach that figure. Nowadays, it takes someone reaching 100 to really impress people. Good thing there are several players today capable of accomplishing such a feat. In fact, many of the fastest pitches in MLB history belong to players currently active. Don't believe me? Here are the ten fastest pitches in MLB history.

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Fastest pitches in MLB history

  1. Aroldis Chapman, 105.8 mph – Sep. 24, 2010

  2. Aroldis Chapman, 105.7 mph – July 18, 2016

  3. Aroldis Chapman, 105.4 mpg – July 18, 2016

  4. Aroldis Chapman, 105.2 mph – July 22, 2016

  5. Aroldis Chapman, 105.1 mph – Aug. 2, 2016

  6. Aroldis Chapman,105.1 mph – July 22, 2016

  7. Aroldis Chapman, 105.1 mph – July 18, 2016

  8. Jordan Hicks, 105 mph – May 20, 2018

  9. Aroldis Chapman, 105 mph – July 23, 2016

  10. Jordan Hicks, 105 mph – May 20, 2018

In a shock to absolutely no one, Aroldis Chapman has thrown eight of the top-10 fastest pitches in MLB history. The only other two pitches belong to now-San Francisco Giants starter Jordan Hicks.

Hicks did not throw these pitches as a starter for the Giants. He did so as a reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals. Relievers tend to have much more velocity behind their fastballs. The reason being that most of the time, they only have to throw one inning, perhaps even less if they don't do well. Where starters need to be able to throw effectively for five, six, sometimes seven innings, relievers can put everything they have into one frame, allowing them to rear back and let loose.

Since Hicks became a full-time starter with the San Francisco Giants this year, his average fastball velocity has dropped from 100.3 mph in 2023 to 95.9 this year. His sinker has also dropped from 100.1 mph to 95 mph.

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What are the fastest pitches in MLB this year?

Prior to June 5, the fastest pitches of 2024 was dominated by one man: Oakland's Mason Miller. The team's closer has been arguably the best reliever in baseball and his fastball is a big reason why.

Fastest pitches of 2024 (prior to 6/5):

  1. Mason Miller,103.7 mph – April 11

  2. Mason Miller,103.4 mph – May 14

  3. Mason Miller,103.3 mph – April 11

  4. Mason Miller,103.3 mph – April 22

  5. Mason Miller, 103.2 mph – May 14

  6. Mason Miller, 102.9 mph – April 11

  7. Mason Miller, 102.9 mph – April 14

  8. Ryan Helsley, 102.8 mph – May 12

  9. Mason Miller, 102.7 mph – May 8

  10. Jhoan Duran, 102.7 mph – May 3

Last season, Minnesota's Jhoan Duran hurled a 104.8 mph fastball against the Seattle Mariners.

In fact, in 2023, nine of the ten fastest pitches in MLB were thrown by Duran (Jordan Hicks held the last spot). Unfortunately, Duran has not been able to reach 104 yet in 2024. We all know he has the capability to do so though.

Updated 2024 Fastest Pitches: Enter Aroldis Chapman again

Aroldis Chapman, 36, had yet to break through for a 103 mph fastball in 2024. His fastest of the season was just 102.0 according to Baseball Savant. On June 5 though, in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pirates' southpaw finally broke through in a big way, throwing multiple 103+ mph sinkers, including one that hit 104.

In total, Chapman threw five pitches that reached 103 mph in this game, including one to strike out Shohei Ohtani. After the game, the new 2024 fastest pitch leaderboard looks like this:

  1. Aroldis Chapman, 104.0 mph -- June 5

  2. Aroldis Chapman, 103.8 mph -- June 5

  3. Mason Miller,103.7 mph -- April 11

  4. Aroldis Chapman, 103.5 mph -- June 5

  5. Mason Miller,103.4 mph -- May 14

  6. Mason Miller,103.3 mph -- April 11

  7. Mason Miller,103.3 mph -- April 22

  8. Mason Miller, 103.2 mph -- May 14

  9. Aroldis Chapman, 103.2 mph -- June 5

  10. Aroldis Chapman, 103.0 mph -- June 5

Hunter Greene and his 105 reading

Although the initial broadcast radar read 105 when the pitch was thrown on March 30, 2023, that turned out to be an incorrect reading.

Statcast almost instantly took down the reading, claiming an error caused the improper reading. After all, Greene's next fastest pitch that day was just 102.

As of today, Baseball Savant lists Greene's fastest pitch that day at just 102.1 mph.

So, you're telling me Nolan Ryan isn't on the list?

Apparently not, but there is a bit of controversy around his exclusion.

In 1974, Nolan Ryan was measured by radar for the first time in his career, and topped out at 100.8 mph. That was still incredibly fast for its time, but it could've been even faster. See, the radar picked the ball's speed up as it crossed home plate. Nowadays, velocity is measured is it leaves a pitcher's hand.

Based on that velocity at home plate, Ryan's fastball actually could've been 108.1 mph, which would be far and away the fastest pitch in MLB history.

Someone else who could've had the fastest pitch of all-time is Bob Feller. According to legend, Feller was measured throwing a fastball at 107.6 mph in 1946. After returning from service in the Navy, Feller's fastball was allegedly measured against the speed of a motorcycle, and that's how the velocity was determined.

Unfortunately for both Feller and Ryan, since the methods for measurement in both instances were inconsistent with today's measurements, neither fastball can be definitively put atop baseball's all-time leaderboards. Even though Ryan's fastball can be estimated at a faster speed than Chapman's, it would still just be an estimate and thus it cannot be included.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The 10 fastest pitches in MLB history