<
>
Get ESPN+

Explosion of pitcher injuries related to record-setting velocity

Shohei Ohtani threw three of the four hardest pitches by any starter this season and the Angels recently announced that Tommy John surgery has been recommended for him. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

BOSTON -- The numbers are indisputable, and the numbers are driving the rapidly careening baseball trends toward faster and bigger. It makes sense that pitchers want to throw harder and are training their bodies year-round to do that. The numbers show that the average velocity on fastballs across the sport is the highest ever, with a dramatic rise in the past decade, and that the spin rates on breaking balls have never been better, the pitchers having a greater understanding of how their bodies work, with an attempt at peak effort on every pitch.

It makes sense that front offices are obsessed with efficiency, in the best way to get each out of the 27 in every game -- the best and most efficient way to get the 10th out, the 19th out, etc. And the numbers show, unquestionably, that a fresher pitcher who can throw harder or spin a curveball more sharply has a better chance of registering a given out than a compromised pitcher who isn't throwing as hard, or spinning the ball as well. All of that is measured now, so that the quality of a breaking ball is quantified, along with the velocity of the fastballs.