If you’re not up on MLB news lately, let me bring you up to speed with the newest edition to the rocket throwing club, Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds. This young Cuban defect has hit 105 mph on the radar gun in the minors this season. Now in the Bigs most of his fastballs are in the upper nineties with many busting the 100mph barrier. Oh, did I tell you he’s left-handed as well? No wonder Castro had a rough time keeping on the island. I’ll just say, holy crap, you got to see this kid throw.
But, as impressive as his fastball is, Big League hitters are good; he’s got to hit his spots with his fastball to be successful long term. So let’s let Chapman be a good teaching tool for us shall we?
Greg Maddux won 355 games throwing in the mid 80’s most of his career. Jamie Moyer has won 267 games throwing fastballs that have an actual arc to them! Plus, (and I bet you didn’t know this) Maddux ranks 10th for career strikeouts and Moyer ranks 40th. (As a side note, it does help that Moyer has pitched for what seems like a full century.)
My point here is you don’t have to throw rockets up to the plate to be effective AT ANY LEVEL. Sure, it helps, I’m not arguing that. But like I told the kid and his father I was working with last night, just get really good at hitting your spots and you’ll be ok. All we worked on in college was to be able to throw two to three pitches for strikes in any count 60% of the time. If our staff could do that, we knew we’d win most games.
So even though guys like Chapman are fun to watch, and you wish your 5’6, 120lb son could throw like him, don’t fret. Just get him some proper mechanics instruction, a few solid pitches that move, and let him have some fun being the Jamie Moyer of his league.
And now that you’re curious, here is a clip of Chapman.