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Monday, August 30, 2010
Reds' Chapman lights up speed gun


What's the fastest that anyone's ever thrown a baseball? We might have a new candidate. Big League Stew's David Brown:
No, not in a car, driving home from Louisville Slugger Ballpark. Chapman was pitching for the Triple-A Louisville Bats of the International League. And, Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse reports, the left-hander threw 105 mph.

--snip--

For one inning, a guy who has been clocked at 100 or 101 before could put a few extra feet on his fastball. It's possible.

The question is, do the Reds really want him to be throwing 105? The human arm isn't really meant to pitch at all, much less at those speeds. One of these days, Chapman's elbow is liable to fly off his arm doing 45.

Look where Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg is right now.

Chapman is expected to join the major league pennant race come September. The Reds could use him, but only if he promises to keep it under 100.We're getting into Sidd Finch territory here. And Finch never got hurt.

Granted, he pitched in just two games.

Seriously, it's lately become quite fashionable to equate throwing really hard with being really injury prone. But do the numbers support this notion? Was Stephen Strasburg really more likely to suffer a serious injury than (say) Mike Leake? All things being equal?

It's true that most of the truly hard-throwing young pitchers have gotten hurt ... but the not-so-hard-throwing pitchers have gotten hurt, too.

I'm not saying Brown is wrong. I will expect Chapman, especially if he move back into a starting role at some point, to get hurt. But I'm not sure it's got anything to do with how hard he throws. And I'm not at all sure that dialing back from (say) 102 to 98 would make a great deal of difference, either way. My guess is that if a guy's going to get hurt throwing in low three digits, he'll almost as easily get hurt throwing in the high twos.

What Aroldis Chapman is doing, professionally, is exceptionally risky. But there probably isn't anything that he, or his employers, can do about it.

Update: Beginning Tuesday night, we'll get to see Chapman for ourselves.