Because Nolan Ryan pitched so well for so long, he was, for many years, a working model for what the ultimate pitcher's body might look like. He had those powerful legs anchoring a compact, fluid delivery. He is thought to have touched 100 mph in an era when hard throwers were the guys hitting 90 mph. Ryan amassed 5,714 strikeouts in the big leagues. As Justin Verlander noted, Ryan maintained his status as a power pitcher throughout his entire 27-year career.
But this generation's ultimate pitcher's body might belong to the Mets' Jacob deGrom -- 6-foot-4 and angular, a human rubber band with flexibility and elasticity. Even at 32 years old, he still seems to be finding physiological levers that enable him to throw a little harder and make the ball move a little more. Second baseman Jeff McNeil acknowledged that after deGrom throws a good fastball, McNeil will turn and peek at the scoreboard to see a velocity reading. The other day, deGrom's fastball was clocked at 102 mph.
To put that number into perspective: In deGrom's first year in the majors, his average fastball velocity was 93.5 mph. That number has continued to climb year after year.
2015: 95 mph
2016: 93.4 mph
2017: 95.2 mph
2018: 96 mph
2019: 96.9 mph
2020: 98.6 mph
His average velocity was the highest in baseball last year, but deGrom's power preeminence was even more pronounced with his slider. Among pitchers who qualified for the ERA title, deGrom threw his slider nearly 3 mph harder than anyone else.