MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Best Power Pitchers in Baseball

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Best Power Pitchers in Baseball

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    There is nothing more intimidating for a hitter than being stared down by a power pitcher who can blow a fastball right by them. Fans also get excited as these pitchers light up the radar gun and rack up the strikeouts.

    The rankings on this list will be determined by a combination of the pitchers' talents, stats and their ability to bring the heat.

25) Stephen Strasburg

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    I would be remiss if I left Strasburg off of this list even though he is injured. He earned a spot as a result of one of the most dominant debuts baseball fans have seen in a long time.

    He had 14 strikeouts in his first major league start, which will be talked about for years.

    In just 68 innings before he got injured, Strasburg struck out 92 batters. This gave him an outstanding 12.2 K/9 rate.

24) Joel Hanrahan

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    This hard-throwing righty is a force to be reckoned with out of the Pirates' bullpen. In 69-and-two-thirds innings, Hanrahan managed to strikeout 100 batters. He had a 12.9 K/9 ratio.

    Hanrahan served as a strong bridge to Pirates' closer Octavio Dotel. Unfortunately, the Pirates did not provide him with many leads to protect.

23) Henry Rodriguez

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    Rodriguez only saw action in 29 games last season. He had some struggles and posted a 4.55 ERA.

    However, he can absolutely bring the heat. His average fastball velocity was 98.45 miles per hour last season.

    Rodriguez threw three straight fastballs clocked at over 100 mph in the 2008 All-Star Futures Game.

22) Joel Zumaya

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    Even after recovering from his Guitar Hero injury, Joel Zumaya has shown that he can still bring the heat.

    Zumaya is the only pitcher in the majors who consistently threw harder than Henry Rodriguez last season.

    His average fastball velocity was 99.6 mph. The hardest pitch that Zumaya threw last season was 103.2 mph.

21) Chris Sale

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    Sale reached the majors just a few months after being drafted. His powerful arm allowed him to succeed at the major league level.

    Sale was able to blow his fastball—which averaged 96.3 mph—past much more experienced hitters. This allowed Sale to strike out 32 hitters in just 23-and-one-third innings.

    His arm is one of the reasons why the White Sox felt comfortable getting rid of Bobby Jenks. Sale is currently one of the top young arms in the major leagues.

20) Heath Bell

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    Bell is one of the top closers in the game. He was second in the major leagues in saves with 47.

    Bell had such a strong year that he finished eighth in the Cy Young voting. A key reason for Bell's success is his ability to strike out hitters. Bell had an 11.1 K/9 rate in 70 innings last season.

19) Brian Wilson

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    As if the beard wasn't intimidating enough, Wilson is also a flamethrower.

    His fastball averaged just under 96 mph. Wilson was the only closer in the league better than Bell last year.

    He led the majors with 48 saves and came in seventh in the Cy Young voting. Wilson struck out 93 batters in 74-and-two-thirds innings.

18) Max Scherzer

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    Scherzer has not been able to match his strikeout rate from his rookie year in 2008, but he has still been able to send batters back to the dugout consistently.

    Scherzer's 8.5 K/9 rate was 15th best among starters this season. He struck out 184 batters.

17) Edinson Volquez

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    Volquez has seen limited time in the majors over the last two years as a result of a torn ulnar collateral ligament, which required Tommy John surgery.

    Volquez was able to gain all of his velocity back and averaged 93.6 mph on his fastballs, which is just 0.1 mph less than he averaged in 2009 before he got hurt.

    Part of the reason that Volquez makes this list is because of the fact that opposing hitters had only a 69-percent contact rate against him. This was one of the best rates in the majors last season.

16) Craig Kimbrel

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    Kimbrel had an absolutely absurd 17.4 K/9 rate this year. This goes along with his impressive 0.44 ERA. Kimbrel threw 20-and-two-thirds major league innings this year and had 40 strikeouts.

    He had some control issues and also had 16 walks. It appears as if Kimbrel will be the Braves' closer next season.

15) Carlos Marmol

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    The Cubs closer is your prototypical power reliever.

    Plain and simple, he makes batters miss. He held hitters to a major league low 61.3-percent contact rate.

    He only averaged 94.1 mph on his fastballs, but it appears as if he throws much faster. In addition to his 38 saves, Marmol struck out 138 batters in 77-and-two-thirds innings.

14) Jonathan Sanchez

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    Sanchez was one of two Giants pitchers to strike out over 200 batters this season.

    He was finally able to put everything together and had the best season of his career.

    He was fifth among starters with a 9.5 K/9 rate. However, Sanchez was not even the best power pitcher on his team.

13) Mat Latos

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    In just his second major league season, Mat Latos was able to perform well enough to tie for eighth in the NL Cy Young voting.

    Part of the reason he could do this was his ability to strike out batters. He struck out 189 hitters, which is very impressive for a young pitcher.

12) Francisco Liriano

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    It appears as if Liriano has finally righted the ship after his Tommy John surgery following the 2006 season.

    Liriano regain his status as a top power pitcher and finally was able to once again strike out hitters consistently.

    He finished fifth in the American League with 201 strikeouts and he had a 9.4 K/9 rate.

11) Ubaldo Jimenez

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    Jimenez is one of the hardest-throwing starters in the major leagues. With an average fastball velocity of 96.1 mph, Stephen Strasburg was the only starter who consistently threw harder than Jimenez.

    He put together by far his best season as a pro this year and he struck out 214 batters. Jimenez went to his first All-Star Game this year.

10) Jon Lester

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    Jon Lester led the American League with a 9.7 K/9 rate last season. Lester is yet another young pitcher who had an outstanding season last year.

    His 225 strikeouts were fourth most in the majors last season. His strikeout numbers are even more impressive considering he plays in the AL East.

9) Jered Weaver

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    Weaver is one of the more surprising MLB strikeout leaders we have had in years.

    Weaver struck out 233 batters this year after striking out just 174 last year.

    Weaver also saw his strikeout rate rise from 7.4 K/9 last season to 9.3 K/9 this year.

8) Neftali Feliz

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    This year's AL Rookie of the Year has an average fastball velocity of 96.3 mph. He felt confident with his fastball, throwing it 82.9 percent of the time.

    Feliz threw the second hardest fastball in the major leagues this year when he hit 103.4 mph. Feliz has the makings of a dominant closer or starter for years to come.

7) Yovani Gallardo

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    Gallardo is yet another young power pitcher who had a great year. He had 200 strikeouts this year.

    This is a slight decline from his 204 strikeouts in 2009. He had a strikeout rate of 9.7, which was second best in the National League.

    In addition to his power on the mound, Gallardo is also powerful with the bat.

    Gallardo hit .254 this year with four home runs and 10 RBI. Gallardo's performance at the plate earned him the NL Silver Slugger award.

6) Brandon Morrow

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    Morrow may not have performed as well as others in the top 10, but he is definitely deserving of his spot. Morrow may not have led the league in strikeouts, but he led the league in strikeout rate.

    He had a 10.9 K/9 rate, which was 1.1 greater than Tim Lincecum's 9.8 K/9 rate. Morrow managed to strike out 178 hitters in his first full year as a starter.

5) Justin Verlander

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    Verlander is one of the few pitchers who has the ability to throw a fastball by hitters consistently. Batters have almost no chance against his fastball.

    That is one of the reasons why Verlander is consistently near the top of the strikeout leader board.

    This year, Verlander was fifth with 219 strikeouts. Verlander's heaters average an impressive 95.4 mph.

4) Clayton Kershaw

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    It's hard to believe that Kershaw is just 22 years old. It's even harder to believe that he has already played two-and-a-half seasons in the majors.

    Kershaw has already established himself as one of the majors' top power pitchers in this short time frame. He had 212 strikeouts this past season in 204-and-one-third innings.

    It is becoming clear that we should expect to see Kershaw near the league lead in strikeouts for years to come.

3) Aroldis Chapman

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    People may be wondering how a pitcher with just 13 career innings and 19 career strikeouts is ranked ahead of Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. The answer is very simple.

    Chapman threw a fastball that was clocked at 105.1 mph. This is the hardest pitch ever thrown in a major league game.

    Chapman also had the highest average-fastball velocity in the majors this year. His fastballs averaged 99.6 mph.

2) Felix Hernandez

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    Hernandez is the best young pitcher in the American League right now. This year's Cy Young winner is 24 years old and in his sixth major league season.

    He struck out a career high 232 batters this year. This was the second-highest total in the majors.

    In addition, Hernandez led the major leagues with a 2.27 ERA.

1) Tim Lincecum

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    The amount of power that Tim Lincecum is able to generate out of his 5'11" 170-lb frame seems to defy physics. Lincecum is the best power pitcher in the majors.

    He was the NL strikeout leader. His 231 strikeouts were also third most in the majors.

    Lincecum also had the second highest K/9 rate in the majors. Lincecum has led the National League in strikeouts for the past three years.

    It is clear that due to his tremendous athletic talent, Lincecum has earned his nickname, The Freak.