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Let’s take a moment for the magical, soft-tossing, cutter-loving 2018 Mariners pitching staff

By John Trupin

When Adam Ottavino recently boasted he would strike out Babe Ruth, it reignited one of baseball’s favorite debates: how would modern players fare against the stars of yesteryear? The debate typically boils down to a few things – the impact of integration, the improvement of training methods, and the shifting ways that players are used. All of those factors have diversified and improved the talent pool for MLB teams to a point where players are faster, stronger, better informed, and throw with greater velocity than ever before. According to Baseball Savant and Statcast, the average fastball (4-seam, 2-seam, sinker, and cutter) in 2018 was 92.4 mph. In 2008, it was 91.1 mph. If we head to Baseball Info Solutions, which provides FanGraphs with their velocity data, but has discrepancies with Statcast’s measurements, the average fastball velocity in 2002 was just 89.0 mph.

The game has changed, with relievers and expertly trained hurlers delivering triple-digits nightly, but even within the league there is a clear separation between some teams and others. Famously, the Yankees are Velocity Kings, with a league-leading 93.8 mph average fastball. The Bronx Bombers were one of nine teams to average over 93.0 mph on their heaters, with the entirety of the league averaging at least 91.2 mph. Well, every team but one.

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