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Video Why It's Almost Impossible to Throw a 110 MPH Fastball | WIRED
09:46   |   views   |   04/12/2018


  • it's baseball season again and that
  • means that some San Lots stadiums the
  • great face-off between pitcher and
  • batter is back and there are lots of
  • pitches a pitcher can throw but every
  • pitcher is judged on their fastball and
  • the fastball is the best pitch in the
  • game and baseball and that's because a
  • heater throwing precision is really
  • really hard to hit everyone has a
  • fastball and it's the pitch that gets
  • thrown the most the very fastest throws
  • 105 miles per hour and that can be havoc
  • at the plate batting legend Ted Williams
  • once said hitting a fastball is the
  • single most difficult thing to do in
  • sports and he was probably right
  • batters barely have time to see and
  • swing at the ball before it reaches home
  • plate they should not be able to hit the
  • damn ball you see as the interesting
  • issue and there are more and more guys
  • throwing harder and faster in 2008 only
  • 18 pitchers were throwing triple-digit
  • bass balls and they collectively through
  • 196 of them by 2017 there were 40
  • pitchers throwing that fast and they
  • together through 1017 fast balls at or
  • above 100 miles per hour but what if the
  • fastball got even faster today we're
  • gonna look at why throwing and hitting a
  • 110 mile per hour fastball is almost
  • impossible to find out what it takes I
  • threw my fastest fastball with a
  • scientist who's been studying pitching
  • for decades
  • I tried hitting a former big leaguers
  • pitch and stepped into the virtual world
  • to bat against a superhuman pitching
  • avatar nope let's start with the pitch
  • baseball fans had long been thrilled by
  • the pure speed of the fastball pitcher
  • for the Cleveland Indians takes time all
  • to demonstrate his cannon ball delivery
  • before radar guns Army Ordnance
  • equipment had to be brought in to
  • measure pitch speed rockets along a
  • world record
  • [Music]
  • legends like Bob Feller and Nolan Ryan
  • through incredible fast balls that left
  • batters marina today's marvels of the
  • mound also sling serious speed at the
  • top of the radar gun is Yankees relief
  • pitcher Aroldis Chapman who was once
  • clocked throwing a stunning 105
  • mile-per-hour fastball he pitches an
  • average of 101 miles per hour
  • and last year threw over 345
  • triple-digit basketballs alright so what
  • does it actually take to throw a ball
  • that fast
  • I talked to Glenn fly sig one of the
  • world's leading authorities on pitch
  • mechanics so do we have any sense of
  • what is distinguishing people who have a
  • range that Peaks out at 100 miles + is
  • there something different about them
  • physiologically proportionally
  • height-wise yeah that's one of the cool
  • things about baseball the answer is no
  • they tend to be tall there are some guys
  • who are 6 feet who are throwing faster
  • than the guys were 6 foot 10 fly sig
  • uses motion capture software to map and
  • correct throwing mechanics but that
  • doesn't mean just anyone can hurl heat
  • you and I do everything right we're not
  • gonna throw a hundred miles per hour
  • maybe your range is you're gonna throw
  • between 70 and 80 miles per hour and
  • someone else's ranges is there gonna be
  • throw between 90 and 100 all we could do
  • with proper mechanics is get you to the
  • top of your range so I asked fly sig who
  • works with pitchers from Little League
  • all the way up through the majors to
  • look at my mechanics the energy has now
  • gone up your body the arm is in the
  • cockpit position what I see here is your
  • arm does not have enough what we call
  • external rotation at the shoulder
  • meaning if I drew a vertical line up
  • your trunk I would want your forearm to
  • be perpendicular to that to make a an L
  • shape so I'd want your hand to be much
  • lower maybe a foot lower so your arm is
  • cocked back more even with Glenn's
  • advice I was only throwing about half
  • the speed of the pros so what is the
  • outer limit in terms of velocity leaving
  • the hand of today's pitchers the top
  • pitchers have always been about 100
  • miles per hour and I think that is the
  • limit one hundred hundred five miles per
  • hour I think that thing they could
  • change is the average velocity could go
  • up because more guys can optimize and
  • maximize himself and get to that limit
  • but fly success there's been a price
  • for such speed there are more injuries
  • and part of the problem is that more
  • pitchers are throwing at top velocity
  • and constantly throwing a top velocity
  • and the body could only take so much he
  • and his colleagues measured the force
  • required to actually rupture elbow
  • ligaments turns out it's actually the
  • same force that a pitcher puts through
  • his arm when throwing at top speed you
  • every time you go back and forward is
  • about a hundred millimetres here and
  • here a hundred Newton meters is the
  • equivalent of holding 512 pound bowling
  • balls so imagine I hung sixty pounds
  • from your hand but that's about the
  • equivalent what's happening on your
  • elbow or shoulder at that instant that
  • force makes for tiny tears in the
  • ligaments and over time a pitcher who
  • throws too hard too often is basically
  • throwing his arm off phytic says that
  • fast ball mania has led to a jump in
  • Tommy John procedures that's the surgery
  • to repair torn ligaments in the elbow he
  • says that is the limiting factor for
  • fast ball speed and I know be very
  • exciting to see the limits break like
  • for other sports where the ceiling keeps
  • going up up I think we're at the ceiling
  • that the ligaments and tendons can't
  • take it so why do pitchers even bother
  • throwing that hard because a well-placed
  • fastball is the gold standard for
  • striking out batters to understand what
  • a batter is up against you have to look
  • at this incredibly short period of time
  • that they have to decide if a ball is
  • even worth swinging at it's 60 feet six
  • inches from the pitcher's mound to home
  • plate but the actual distance is shorter
  • the pitcher releases the ball about 55
  • feet from the plate and a fastball
  • moving 100 miles per hour takes about
  • four tenths of a second to make that
  • trip and here's the thing it takes 50
  • milliseconds for the iron brain to even
  • register the pitch another hundred and
  • fifty milliseconds to swing the bat that
  • leaves just a split second for the
  • batter to decide if the pitch is worth
  • swinging at the batter has to pretty
  • much make his decision within 200
  • milliseconds that's why some people var
  • good batters should not be able to do it
  • I can tell you that it is incredibly
  • difficult a little bit I went to
  • Villanova University where Kevin moly
  • who is the baseball coach there and a
  • former pro pitcher himself
  • a few fast balls passed me I made
  • contact twice I was just concentrating
  • on keeping the ball away from him I
  • didn't want to hit you I didn't want to
  • come inside I didn't want to get
  • anywhere near you which I appreciated he
  • was throwing in the 80s and was
  • incredibly consistent but here at
  • Villanova
  • they've got a tireless pitcher who can
  • throw everything from high school speeds
  • right up to the truly impossible there
  • nailed it so I am inside the cave at
  • Villanova and right now it's a virtual
  • batter's box inside a virtual stadium
  • and I'm hitting against a virtual
  • pitcher who can throw any style of pitch
  • we want he can throw a changeup he can
  • throw a fastball I can throw a curveball
  • or a slider he can even do impossible
  • pitches but no actual bats allowed this
  • screen alone costs fifty thousand
  • dollars engineer mark du Pina created
  • the system by inputting actual MLB pitch
  • data so what batters see is a real pitch
  • delivered virtually what we're doing
  • here as much as we can is develop a
  • training tool and then we're also
  • looking at to add in eg sensors to
  • measure focus level eye trackers to
  • properly see how well the eye is moving
  • with with the ball we're developing
  • something not only to help the baseball
  • team but we're getting other scientists
  • and engineers involved in this this
  • project Japan I can do things like
  • freeze the ball midair and have batters
  • identify the pitch that's gonna be high
  • yeah high and inside it's harder than it
  • sounds but some of Villanova's players
  • took right to it
  • I was I wasn't right all the time but it
  • was definitely very beneficial to try to
  • pick up and really focus in on arm
  • recognition and where the slot of the
  • ball is coming out of it strike fastball
  • and we can even show you what
  • realistically a hundred and twenty mile
  • an hour fastball would look like I tried
  • one of those nope
  • 121 121 miles per hour for psychologist
  • Jerry long the cave batting simulator
  • could answer questions about our ability
  • to track moving objects 121 miles
  • I agree you could have hit that oh yeah
  • like is it really true that you've got
  • to keep your eye on the ball to hit it
  • what if the ball disappeared after 200
  • milliseconds the presence of the ball
  • should almost be unnecessary is that
  • true I don't know the answer to that I'd
  • love to find that out I also tried one
  • of Japan's other creations a hacked
  • oculus rift that he's rigged so a player
  • can swing for the virtual fences how the
  • timing is completely different all right
  • this is a fast ball moving in 111 miles
  • per hour fifth or sixth time is the term
  • finally right yes all right finally so
  • in the sixth or seventh attempts knowing
  • exactly when and where this ball is
  • coming standing way in the back of the
  • batter's box so that my sweet spot is
  • perfectly aligned with the incoming
  • trajectory of this pitch I was able to
  • make contact with a 111 mile-per-hour
  • impossibly fast fast ball so will we
  • ever see a pitch like that in real life
  • probably not but virtual reality could
  • help us better understand how batters
  • track and connect with the ball because
  • what they're doing now is already almost
  • impossible

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More and more pitchers are throwing triple digits. The fastest of them tops out at 105 MPH. WIRED examines why the 110 MPH fastball is almost impossible.

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Why It's Almost Impossible to Throw a 110 MPH Fastball | WIRED


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