An explosive fastball alone can get a pitcher to the big leagues and wow scouts, players, coaches and fans along the way. In the history of the game, there is a long line of guys who lit up radar guns with their popping fastball that looks like nothing but a blur to the untrained eye.
However, despite all the hard throwers in the game's history, there are 10 pitchers that stand up above the rest. These 10 pitchers make the list of the game's hardest throwers not just for putting up three digits on the radar gun but the consistency of their velocity as well.
Jonathan Broxton is a 6'4", 280-something pound hoss who throws straight gas coming out of the Dodgers bullpen. The Dodgers closer sits in the high-90s and gone over the century mark numerous times throughout his career. Broxton was clocked as high as 103 MPH in July of 2009.
Wohlers was THE closer in the first half of the 1990s for the Braves pennant winning teams. Not only did Wohlers possess one of the nastiest curveballs in the game, but he used that off a 99-101 MPH fastball that he routinely blew by the game's best hitters. Wohlers' career was completely altered by Jim Leyritz, but for a three-year period he was nearly untouchable thanks to his fastball.
Richard is one of the greatest shooting stars in the history of the game. Richard's prime lasted only four seasons, but in that span he wowed the baseball world with a consistent 97-100 MPH fastball that helped him strike out 616 batters in 1978 and 1979.
Smoky Joe Wood is one of the hard-throwing legends of the game from the dead ball era. Wood, who tallied a career-high 258 strikeouts in 1912, used to tell reporters that he "threw so hard, I thought my arm would fly right off my body."
Through the 2004 season, Randy Johnson was a complete freak of nature. Standing 6'11" and throwing in the high-90s, the Big Unit was the most lethal starting pitcher in baseball. He threw in the mid to high-90s and above into his early 40s. In addition to the 1,417 strikeouts he compiled from 1999-2002, Johnson hit 102 MPH in 2004.
For nearly five decades after his retirement, "The Big Train" was considered the hardest throwing pitcher in big league history. It was Johnson who held all of the strikeout records before Nolan Ryan came around. Obviously there were not radar guns in Johnson's day, but two experiments clocked Johnson's fastball at 134 feet per second and 99.7 MPH.
For decades, Feller was considered by many to be the hardest thrower in big league history. In 1946, Feller boasted that he was clocked at 107.9 MPH during an exhibition at Griffiths Stadium. Feller also boasted that he was clocked at 104 MPH. Feller reached 98.6 in the same test that measured Walter Johnson at 99.7 MPH.
Steve Dalkowski was a flash in the pan minor league pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, but peers raved that he was the hardest throwers in the big leagues. Dalkowski's legend grew stronger when Ted Williams claimed he could not even see the ball from Dalkowski.
Dalkowski struck out 1,396 in 995 minor league innings when he reportedly hit 105 MPH on numerous occasions.
Ryan became the standard bearer of hard-throwing pitchers in the 1970s and 1980s when he featured his 100 MPH "Ryan Express". Ryan wowed the sports world when he set a then-Guinness Book record of 100.9 MPH with his fastball in 1974.
The "Express" kept churning deep into Ryan's career when the right-hander was still able to hit the high-90s into his 40s. Ryan retired in 1993 as the game's all-time strikeout leader with 5,714.
How hard does Joel Zumaya throw? So hard that the Tigers reliever almost has to try to throw lower than 99 MPH. Zumaya sits at 100-101 MPH with the ability to go higher. On October 10, 2006, Zumaya recorded the fastest recorded pitch in big league history when he hit 104.8 MPH.