The Tigers have had the reliever with the hardest fastball in the Majors for the last few years with Joel Zumaya. Not surprisingly, they also have the pitcher regarded by his peers as having the best fastball in the game.
The latest Sports Illustrated player poll asked 339 players which pitcher has the best fastball. Verlander drew 30 percent of the vote, nearly three times as many as any other player. Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton was the next-highest at 11 percent. Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado’s 15-game winner, received seven percent of vote. Zumaya was in the same neighborhood as Felix Hernandez with six percent.
Verlander doesn’t get to lead the Majors in pitches over 100 mph, but he’s usually right up there for starters, and his average fastball velocity is usually in the top two or three. He’s second this year at 95.8 mph, according to fangraphs.com, trailing only Jimenez at 96.3. Jimenez was the only pitcher higher than Verlander last year, too.