A couple days ago, Yakult fireballer Yoshinori (Sato) hit 161 km/h on the gun, blowing by the previous high water mark of 158 for Japanese NPB pitchers, which had been reached three times. Yakult lost the game 9-3 to Yokohama, but Yoshinori left with his team down 3-2. He’s been pitching well recently.
There’s a little discrepancy here — the data I collect and aggregate shows that Yoshinori’s top velocity in that game was 156 km/h. But the stadium gun showed 161, so we’ll give it to him. Also, Yoshinori deserves credit for learning how to pitch this year. And he seemingly has his head in the right place, commenting on his blog: “With modesty, I’m happy to record Japan’s fastest pitch, it gives me confidence. However, yesterday I wanted to win by any means.” Yakult is fighting for a playoff spot, after a terrible start to the season.
While we’re on the subject of velocity, Jingu has a reputation for having a hot gun, but I think Rakuten’s gun at K-Sta has been worse at times this year. I offer up the following evidence, presented in miles per hour:
- Yu Darvish recorded the fastest pitch of his NPB career last month at K-Sta, and then promptly bettered that mark in his next appearance there.
- Last week when I saw a headline that Toshiya Sugiuchi showed great velocity against Rakuten, I immediately wondered if it was in a game played at K-Sta. Yep. The gun readings from that game had Sugiuchi’s slowest fastball at 90 mph, which is where is usually where he maxes out.
- The Sugiuchi observation prompted me to look at SoftBank’s other finesse lefty, Tsuyoshi Wada. His hardest throwing game of the year was June 26 at K-Sta.
- Looking at a Rakuten pitcher, Kouhei Hasebe shows a big home/road split on velocity. Some recent examples of his average fastball velocity: July 28 at SoftBank – 86.05, August 4 at home vs Lotte – 90.05, August 14 at Chiba Lotte – 84.10, August 21 at home vs SoftBank: 89.84.
The moral of the story: velocity charts are to be taken with a grain of salt.