Moon Dong-joo (20), a top-class prospect in the second year of professional baseball for Hanwha, threw a light-speed ball that exceeded 160 km/h for the first time in Korea’s pitching theory against KIA in Gwangju on the 12th. According to the results measured by the Pitch Tracking System (PTS) operated by Sports 2I, an official record and statistics company of the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization), he threw a fastball at 160.1 km/h that day.
Moon Dong-joo recorded 159 km/h in the Daegu Samsung match on the 6th, and this time he surpassed even that and entered the 160 km/h range메이저놀이터, which is known as the ‘restriction of dreams’. 160 km/h is equivalent to 100 miles per hour.
Moon Dong-ju is the first Korean pitcher to exceed 160 km/h since PTS was officially introduced in 2011. The highest speed recorded by a domestic player before Moon Dong-ju was Lotte Choi Dae-seong (38, retired, 158.7 km). It is followed by Ahn Woo-jin (24, 158.4 km), who has been reborn as Kiwoom’s ‘ace’.
Of course, including foreign pitchers who played in Korea, it is the third after Redames Leeds (then LG, 2011-2013) and Fabillo Castillo (then Hanwha, 2016).
Speed isn’t everything to a pitcher, but the faster he throws, the more powerful he is. How fast did the balls come out in Japan and the US? In this article, we look at it from the perspective of a domestic pitcher in that country, not a foreign pitcher.
165 km of Otani in Japanese yen
In this 2023 WBC (World Baseball Classic), Japanese pitchers’ speed and pitch surprised the world.
Shohei Otani (29, LA Angels), a “baseball genius” who doubles as a pitcher, and Rocky Sasaki (22, Chiba Lotte), who wrote a perfect game in NPB (Japan Professional Baseball) last year, each lightly hit 100 miles (about 160.9 km) with their right arm. I used to pass
They were fast and well-controlled, and they put the balls one after another without any gaps. In particular, the scene in which Ohtani pitched as a relief pitcher in the WBC final against the United States and cooked batters by mixing a fastball with a speed of 164 km/h and a breaking ball with a large drop, aroused admiration. Japan won its third WBC championship since 2006 and 2009 with the balance of pitching.
The fastest ball in NPB history is a 166 km/h ball thrown by Brazilian foreign pitcher Thiago Vieira (30, Milwaukee Brewers) wearing a Yomiuri Giants uniform in 2021.
When it comes to domestic pitchers in Japan, Ohtani holds the record for being the ‘fastest man’. In 2016, when he was playing for Nippon Ham in Japan, Ohtani recorded the highest velocity (165 km/h) by a Japanese pitcher in NPB history. Recently, Sasaki shot the same speed in a WBC practice match on the 4th of last month, and this record may soon be broken.
Appears up to 169 km/h in the US
In MLB (U.S. Professional Baseball), 160 km/h began to cross 40 to 50 years ago.
In 1974, Nolan Ryan (76, USA), the MLB’s all-time strikeout king (5714), threw a ball at 100.8 miles per hour (162.2 km) for the first time. At that time, for the first time, a ‘radar speed gun’ was used during a game to measure the velocity of the ball he threw.
Kim Byeong-hyeon (44) and Randy Johnson (60, USA), once famous in Korea as a colleague of the “Big Unit,” have also become a hot topic since the 1990s for consistently throwing light-speed balls approaching 102 miles per hour (164.1 km). Johnson, who showed off his imposing physique (height 208cm, 102kg), ranks second in MLB career strikeouts (4,875) after Ryan.
The fastest ball in MLB history is the light-speed ball at 169.1 km (105.1 miles) per hour. Aroldis Chapman (35, Kansas City Royals), a foreign pitcher from Cuba, opened a new era of restraint by throwing in a Cincinnati Reds uniform in September 2010. For a while, he was known as the ‘fastest man’ in MLB.
Then, in May 2018, Jordan Hicks (27, USA, St. Louis Cardinals) reached this number. On the 31st of last month, the opening game of the 2023 MLB regular season, Hicks is still showing off his majesty by throwing a fastball of 103.8 miles per hour (167 km), the highest speed this season.
The ‘era of 170 km/h’ may not be far off.
You must have both speed and control to grow into a ‘special pitcher’
In addition to Moon Dong-ju, young fastball pitchers such as Ahn Woo-jin, Jang Jae-young (21, Kiwoom), and Jung Woo-young (24, LG) are appearing one after another in Korea.
However, a fast ball alone cannot survive in the professional world. I can’t even dream of a bigger stage. Control is basic, and you need to have a reliable main weapon that you can rely on at any time, such as Ryu Hyun-jin’s (36, Toronto Blue Jays) change-up or Ohtani’s ‘sweeper’. Yang Sang-moon, a former national team pitching coach and commentator at SPOTV, said, “No matter what a pitcher is, the basics are the first pitch. He emphasized that jegu should be made at a young age.”
It is no exaggeration to say that the future and revival of Korean baseball, which has been stagnant, depends on the growth of these young pitchers.