Today's Fun Fact

One of the annoying things about looking at statistics at this point in the season is that they're still so subject to variability that they're basically meaningless. A few days ago, for example, the Mariners' pitching staff had the highest contact rate against in baseball. Now, they're in the middle of the pack. So what if the Rangers' hitters have the lowest strikeout rate in the league? So what if Howie Kendrick is slugging in the .600s? With so many of these numbers, we're still a ways away from the point at which we can really read much into them.

But there are a few numbers that don't fluctuate much over time, and the one I want to highlight here is average fastball velocity, for the following reason:

Average fastball velocity, starting pitchers, 2011

(1) Michael Pineda, 95.5mph
(2) David Price, 94.6
(3t) Edinson Volquez, 94.1
(3t) Josh Johnson, 94.1
(5t) Alexi Ogando, 93.8
(5t) Justin Verlander, 93.8

At least according to Fangraphs' measure, Michael Pineda has been throwing the fastest average fastball for any starter in the league, and by a fairly wide margin when you really think about it. He'll face stiff competition for the top spot from Ubaldo Jimenez once he returns from the DL next week, and a few other challengers may emerge, but there's some perspective for you. Michael Pineda doesn't only throw hard. He throws really, really hard. About as hard as any other starting pitcher in Major League Baseball.

Add in the fact that Pineda is so tall, and releases the ball so close to the plate, and you can see why his heater can be a dominant pitch. I cannot overstress how encouraging it is that Pineda's primary pitch is also a weapon. Few young pitchers can claim the same, and for that reason, few young pitchers possess the same ceiling.

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