I attached an article I wrote in 2009 about the Malone University pitching staff that led the NAIA in ERA that season with only 2 pitchers that hit as hard as 88 on the radar gun. Most guys pitched between 82-85, which is considered average at that level.
So is velocity overrated? The answer yes and no. The article does not attempt to answer that question but it does address the idea that pitchers can be very successful at a high level without throwing 90+.
In many ways velocity IS overrated. What is not overrated is being able to locate the fastball to both sides of the plate and the ability to change speeds effectively. This is a formula to success at any level and I would like to have a pitcher who has the ability to do those things on my team. Velocity is overrated because so many pitchers are willing to sacrifice their ability to locate to try to light up the radar gun. There is a big difference between the speed at which one "throws" vs. "pitches". Many young pitchers do not understand the key is the velocity they "pitch" at and still have command.
I can also argue that velocity is NOT overrated. No one ever got drafted in the first round and signed for $3.5 million throwing 84 mph. The guys that get that kind of cash throw 95+. Velocity is not overrated because higher velocity pitches give hitters less time to make the decision to swing or not. Check out the Sport Science video about Aroldis Chapman (aka the hardest throwing human on the planet) below that discusses this concept. Pitchers who throw hard also throw sharper breaking pitches which leads to more strikeouts.
Overall, pitchers must understand that while maximizing their ability to throw hard is important, locating and changing speeds is important as well. No matter what your style is, by following the basic principles of locating, changing speeds, and just flat out competing, you can be successful at a high level.
Coach Mike Grady
Coach Grady has 10 years experience working with pitchers of all ages through private and group instruction, including 6 years experience as a college pitching coach. This blog is dedicating to helping pitchers of all ages improve their game.
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North Canton, OH 44720
What others have to say:
"The velocity program not only helped increase my velocity, but it also helped me develop good throwing habits through proper arm care and recovery. I gained a ton of knowledge from this program, and it made me a better pitcher." Ty Drabick, RHP, Kent State University
"Four of our pitchers trained with Grady's Pitching School in the Velocity Development Program in 2016. By the conclusion of the 2017 spring season, we saw an improvement in numbers across the board, increased velocity, improved arm health, and an overall improvement in confidence on the mound from our guys. The Velocity Development Program exceeded all expectations with the individualized attention that was provided, competitive work environment, professionalism, and knowledge of the staff. Coach Grady and his staff will continue to play a vital role in the overall development of our baseball program." Shane Byler, Head Baseball Coach, Lake Center Christian.