MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Best Power Pitchers in Baseball

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 25 Best Power Pitchers in Baseball

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    CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Houston Astros at Great American Ball Park on September 28, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 3-2 to clinch the NL Central Division title. (Photo by Joe Rob
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    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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    WASHINGTON - AUGUST 10:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Florida Marlins at Nationals Park on August 10, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    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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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 21:  Joel Hanrahan #52 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on September 21, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    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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    OAKLAND, CA - JULY 21:  Henry Rodriguez #63 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Boston Red Sox at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 21, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    NEW YORK - JUNE 23:  Joel Zumaya #54 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the New York Mets at Citi Field on June 23, 2010 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    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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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 29: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the New York Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field on August 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 01:  Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on October 1, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants pitchers against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Get
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 16:  Max Scherzer #37 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees on August 16, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    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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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 06:  Edinson Volquez #36 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    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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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 08:  Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the San Francisco Giants during game 2 of the NLDS at AT&T Park on October 8, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    PHOENIX - JULY 05:  Relief pitcher Carlos Marmol #49 of the Chicago Cubs pitches during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 5, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 9-4.  (Photo by
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 30, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo b
    Pool/Getty Images

    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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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 03:  Matt Latos #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on October 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 6: Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins pitches during game one of the ALDS against the New York Yankees on October 6, 2010 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    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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    ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 2: Starter Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 2, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Rockies 1-0 in 11 innings.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Get
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25:  Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during their game on September 25, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Pitcher Jered Weaver #36 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Get
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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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    ST. LOUIS - JULY 4: Stating pitcher Yovani Gallardo #49 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 4, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Brewers 7-1.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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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    NEW YORK - JULY 04:  Brandon Morrow #23 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees on July 4, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    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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    ST PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 27:  Pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 27, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    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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    PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 24, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 10: Aroldis Chapman #54 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the 9th inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during game 3 of the NLDS at Great American Ball Park on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Phillies defeated the Reds 2
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 05:  Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on August 5, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    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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    ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on November 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Giants wo
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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.

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