I remember reading this article in Sports Illustrated about a softball pitcher, Ty Stofflet, when I was a kid. I also saw him pitch once in Midland, Michigan. According to the article, he was clocked at 104 mph.
This is another exaggerated speed. The top men nowadays are confirmed to throw in the low 80's in fastpitch. The top women can throw about 73. Any other claims are bogus. The women are performing at about 87% of the level of men in raw speed. This is consistent with observations from olympic results in sports where there is a quantifiable result that can be compared between men and women. In the major leagues, some pitchers have thrown 104 or more. So if you multiply that by 87%, it is possible that there could be a woman in the future who could throw over 90mph.
I've been reading this with avid interest; and the one point I find NOT being made is reference to what is actually being measured; how it's being measured; and the real glitches that have to be addressed in determining accuracy.
1. What is recorded on any Jugs Gun test is the speed of the baseball at the instant of release from the pitcher's hand. It is not who played in what level of competitive tournaments or leagues and what he/she saw out there among the elites. It is push-back Doppler Effect at point of release.
2. Angle of projection between the Gun and the ideal line of fire [which would be directly behind the batter and at a line of vision which would ideally be consistent with the point of release.
3. What is not measured is the speed of the ball as it crosses the plate. Between the point of release and the swing zone, resistance factors on the ball reduce speed @ 2-8 mph from point of release. A larger softball would have a bit more resistance and a bit more reduction than an offical MLB ball.
4. Statistically, at the MLB level, 100 mph pitches [at point of release are as rare as hen's teeth. A difference in 2 mph [measured] is @ 10 standard deviations of oomph.
5. Joel Zumaya in 2006 left hitters scratching their heads, clocked as high as 104 mph [release], more often closer to 100 mph, with an overall average at 98+.
6. The mechanics in throwing a baseball are varied, inasmuch as a pitcher may be overhand, 3/4, sidearm, submarine. The power source is in the hips, rump, upper and lower legs formaximum thrust off the rubber. The follow through is more a matter of arm preservation, occurring after the release.
7. The mechanics of throwing a softball, lower body-wise, relies on the same generation of thrust. The delivery is far less trying on the physical makeup of the upper body parts involved in throwing a baseball. The ball is bigger, which will, regardless of unfounded argument to the contrary, cut speed at release by a small amount. The resistance factors will likewise exact their price on velocity over distance to the swing-contact zone.
When I have watched the short-lived womens fastpitch professional league in the mid 90s, and as a regular viewer of top women's college play and the Olympic competitions, the announcers and commentators have repeatedly hammered home a fastball speed @ 65 and bigger guns cracking 70-75. Those observations seem informed; consistent with what my eyes are seeing; and compatible with the fewer Jugs measures I've seen - tracking fastballs at 68 to 74 mph. [At release point].
When I played ASA fast pitch, then attended some of the finals, I did get to see, first-hand, some top teams and pitchers; and they did bring it. I can see 85 - 90 mph tops, at release, crossing into the contact zone @ 77-82 mph. Above that = dreamsville.
Just based on all that I would never have been so awed and overpowered by anyone I ever saw to compare the experience with that of seeing Zumaya, prime Feller, prime Koufax bring the heat.
If were to take Joel Zumaya's fastest recorded pitch 104 mph at release and applied that exact speed, at release, traveling only 69% of the distance a MLB fastball travels, that's a perspective experience of 133 mph. Sorry, no taker here.
Last edited by leewileyfan; 03-03-2010 at 08:27 AM.