Mets hard-thrower Noah Syndergaard is often referred to as a hard-thrower — which I have just done; i.e., referred to him as a hard-thrower — because he throws hard. The thing about professional athletes is they want more of what makes them professional athletes. In Syndergaard’s case, in large part the big fastball is what’s made him one of the best pitchers in baseball.
On that front, there’s this …
Noah Syndergaard spent the winter eating bowls of venison and wants to throw harder this season. I have nothing to add to that. #mets
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) February 12, 2017
Hey, no harm in some #bowlsofvenison.
Anyway, Syndergaard already throws very hard. Per PITCHf/x, Syndergaard last season led all qualifiers with an average fastball velocity of 97.9 mph. Drop the bar to 50 innings, and only Aroldis Chapman had a more hasty average four-seamer.
Why would someone with those kinds of gun readings pine for even more? Well, to state the obvious velocity correlates strongly with good pitching results. There are obvious exceptions to this principle, but it’s a general truth. For instance, last season all major-league hitters put up an OPS of .684 against those classified as power pitchers. Against finesse pitchers, that figure rose to .778.
Velocity tends to decrease gradually pretty much as soon as a pitcher reaches the highest level. However, that’s not the case for all pitchers — Chapman, for instance. We’re probably not to the point at which we’ll see a starting pitcher average triple digits with his fastball, but Syndergaard makes good on his stated goal then we might come closer than we ever thought possible. Of course, we may already be closer than we ever thought possible.
Noah Syndergaard has goals, you see. Just ask the deer of this great land.