As MLB free agency reaches its peak, there are still many players whose talents have put other teams into bidding wars. First baseman Albert Pujols has narrowed his field down to two teams, and signing Prince Fielder appears to be anybody's game.
Yet, there is one small corner of the market that features a multitude of talent. I'm talking about pitchers who throw so hard that batters probably don't even realize that the pitch has been thrown until the umpire makes the call and they go, "Wait....what just happened?"
That's right, folks. I'm talking about the prototypical power pitcher, a hurler who relies less on the location and accuracy of his pitches and more on just blowing them away with his velocity. One such pitcher expected to be on the market shortly is Japanese sensation Yu Darvish (pictured), whose fastball has been clocked as high as 97 miles per hour.
Thus, let's have a look at the seven best power pitchers on the market and predict just where they'll go.
At 6'4" and 240 pounds, Todd Coffey is someone who just looks like a hard thrower. Sure enough, his fastball usually tops out around 95 mph. Despite being a middle reliever, he has become a fan favorite with his famous sprints out of the bullpen and has something of a cult following.
He spent last year with the Washington Nationals and posted a respectable 3.62 ERA in 69 games.
Though he hasn't completely ruled out a return to Washington, Coffey has already said that he will play anywhere for "the right contract." Given the teams supposedly interested in him and the fact that he isn't much more than a middle relief/setup guy, I don't see him going far from DC in 2012.
Prediction: Washington Nationals
Given his short tenure with the Los Angeles Angels, the options for 34-year-old Fernando Rodney are few and far between. In his two years with the team, the hefty right-hander went 7-8 with a 4.32 ERA and horrific 1.59 WHIP. He saved 17 games, but also blew 11.
That being said, there's no telling where Rodney may end up. At this rate, it looks like he'll go to a team that's absolutely desperate for a right-handed pitcher whose fastball tops out around 96 mph.
However, I'm thinking that Rodney won't have to stray far at all for his next contract. If I remember correctly, there's another team in Southern California that is known for spending money on any player healthy enough to play.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers
Alright, so maybe he's known more for his exploits with Guitar Hero than he is for his fastball that has often reached the triple digits. Still, despite his fiery velocity, Joel Zumaya finds himself in a pickle after yet another injury to his pitching arm, this time another elbow surgery, robbed him of ever pitching in the 2011 season.
That being said, I think it's a safe bet that Zumaya will not be back in a Tigers uniform next season. Still, he may be able to find a one-year deal from a team that has recently shown a penchant for signing over-the-hill relievers, much like they did last offseason. That's right, I'm talking about the team that signed Bobby Jenks.
Seeing as how they are now without Jonathan Papelbon and are in need of major bullpen help, don't be surprised if desperation strikes and Zumaya is offered a contract.
Prediction: Boston Red Sox
Though he seems to be known for his injury history just as much as Zumaya, Rich Harden at least pitched at some point last season. In his second stint with the Oakland Athletics, Harden made 15 starts and went 4-4 with a 5.12 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, missing much of the season due to injury. He was almost traded to the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline, but his durability caused Boston to back out.
That being said, if Harden gets any offers this offseason, I doubt it will be from anybody but Oakland. At this rate, he should consider himself lucky to still even be in the majors.
On top of that, the only reason we're even calling him a power pitcher here is because of how much he relies on his fastball, which isn't that fast at around 92 mph. Still, it's his out-pitch, so a power pitcher he is.
Prediction: Oakland Athletics
Last year was a dream rebound season for Bartolo Colon. After sitting out a year, he came back full force and pitched beyond expectations after signing a minor league deal with the New York Yankees. On the season, Colon went 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.
On top of that, the 38-year-old's velocity reached as high as 96 mph. He may have struggled down the stretch, but he proved that he still has what it takes to compete on the major league level.
Thus, seeing as how the Yankees are looking to get younger in their rotation, I anticipate something of a homecoming for Colon. He'll fill out the back end of a young rotation on a one-year deal, giving himself one last hurrah before retirement.
Prediction: Cleveland Indians
Over his past four seasons, all with the Cincinnati Reds, Francisco Cordero's velocity has turned him into one of the game's most underrated closers. With a fastball that reaches around 95-96 mph, Cordero has registered 150 saves and posted a 2.96 ERA in Cincinnati. Yet, seeing as how the new CBA turned him into a Type-B free agent, his price has now dropped immensely.
That being said, I don't see Cordero going anywhere. He has stated his desire to stay with the team, so something tells me he'll be taking a hometown discount.
Prediction: Cincinnati Reds
Here we have the pitcher whose velocity tops out at 97 mph, but also goes as low as 80. Simply put, if Yu Darvish is posted soon, free agency will turn into a frenzy as teams line up to win the rights to negotiate with the dominant right-hander.
At just 25 years old, Darvish has a ton of potential to succeed should he come to the United States. In seven seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters, he has gone an incredible 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Whoever the highest bidder turns out to be, the team will certainly be very lucky should they be able to sign Darvish to a contract.
That being said, I think we all know who the highest bidder will be in this case.
Prediction: New York Yankees