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Baseball is notorious for having its own lingo that even casual fans may not always understand. Common baseball terms often evolve into sayings and phrases that only those heavily invested in the sport understand.
For example, the word velo may not be in Webster’s Dictionary, but it is a commonly understood term among baseball loyalists.
Velo in baseball is short for velocity which is typically used to measure the speed of a pitch. In baseball, velocity is measured in miles per hour.
A pitch is the most common thing measured by velocity in baseball, but it can also be used to measure the speed at which defensive players throw as well as a hitter’s exit velocity.
In the rest of this article, we tackle some of the most commonly asked questions about velocity and its role in the game of baseball.
Is Velocity Important in Baseball?
The importance of velocity is a hotly debated topic among baseball fans and coaches. Some argue that velocity is the most important attribute for a pitcher while others argue that command and offspeed pitches are more important than the velocity with which a pitcher can throw.
Velocity is important in baseball, but it is not the only thing that matters when it comes to being a successful pitcher, hitter, or defensive player.
For example, a pitcher who can throw 95 mph but struggles to throw strikes consistently probably won’t be as effective as a pitcher who can throw 90 mph with exceptional command.
That does not mean that velocity does not matter when it comes to pitching. The harder a pitcher can throw, the more room he has to make mistakes. A 90 mph fastball right down the middle is likely to get hit more than a 98 mph fastball thrown in the same spot.
There is no denying the fact that pitchers are throwing harder than ever before, and this is why the importance of velocity debate has sparked among people in the baseball community.
The bottom line is that all pitchers would love to throw harder, and all pitching coaches would love for their pitchers to throw harder as well. That is no debate. When it comes to choosing velocity or command, that just depends on the pitcher or coach’s preference.
Velocity is and always will be important in baseball, and anyone who argues otherwise has not been watching the development of the game over recent years.
How Can Pitchers Increase Velocity?
As mentioned before, pitchers are throwing harder than they ever have before. Because of this, pitchers of all ages are trying to get a leg up on their competition by finding ways to increase their velocity.
Pitchers can increase their velocity through mechanical improvements, strength training, long tossing, and weighted ball programs.
Many pitchers don’t get the most out of their velocity because of their mechanics. Sometimes, there are small adjustments pitchers can make to improve their mechanics that can allow them to see small increases in their velocity.
More than likely, mechanical adjustments don’t produce big increases in velocity overnight, but with time, pitchers with improved efficiency in their mechanics can often see small gains on the radar gun.
Strength training is another way for pitchers to see gains not only on the scale, but in their velocity on their fastball. Many coaches and trainers used to be hesitant to prescribe weightlifting as a training tool for pitchers, but those days are in the past.
Flexibility is important for pitchers, and many coaches and trainers used to believe that adding too much strength would take away from a pitcher’s flexibility. Now, trainers have learned ways in which pitchers can add strength and maintain flexibility.
Strength training is now seen as a necessity for pitchers to both gain strength and maintain a healthy and durable body.
Long toss may provoke some hesitation from some pitchers and coaches, but most would agree that long toss is a staple for a pitcher trying to increase his velocity.
In long toss, pitcher’s play catch with a partner at distances far greater than what they will throw on the mound. They gradually work their way back until they eventually reach their max distance before working their way back in.
The thought behind this is that it improves a pitcher’s arm strength, therefore allowing him to throw the ball at greater velocities. Long toss has been around for quite some time, but it has become (mostly) widely accepted as a staple in a velocity program within the last decade.
Lastly, one of the best, and most controversial, ways to improve velocity in a rather short period of time is a weighted ball program. These programs have evolved over the years, and now, more pitchers than ever are using weighted balls to increase their velocity.
In the past, weighted balls were thought to do more harm than good when it comes to a pitcher’s arm health. Those same views are still prevalent, but with an increased focus on velocity, more pitchers than ever are willing to test out the weighted ball programs.
The reason pitchers are flocking to these programs now is because, when done correctly, they work, and they work fast. However, the programs are still fairly new, and there are mixed results in studies that have tested the effect they have on a pitcher’s arm health.
Still, even the most respected coaches and trainers who are skeptical of weighted ball programs cannot deny the fact that they do indeed help to increase a pitcher’s velocity.
What is the Average Velocity of a Major League Fastball?
Batting averages across the MLB have been slipping into never-before-seen territory in recent years. There are many reasons for the decrease, and one of those reasons is the increase in velocity among pitchers.
The average Major League fastball was 93.9 in 2022 according to apnews.com. The average velocity has slowly increased over the years.
Even more shocking is the number of pitches in 2022 that were thrown at 100 mph or higher. This past season, 3,356 fastballs were thrown at least 100 mph. That is about 2.5 times higher than the number from 2021.
There are more pitchers than ever throwing in the triple digits, and that is why the average velocity among all Major League pitchers has reached record highs.
What is a Radar Gun?
A radar gun is a device used to measure the velocity of a pitch. In order to use it, one must be positioned somewhere behind the catcher and point the device in the direction of the pitcher. The radar gun will pick up the ball and measure its speed in miles per hour.
What is Exit Velocity?
Exit velocity is used in hitting and measures the speed at which the ball leaves the bat. This is often used to evaluate hitters in the scouting and recruiting process. The MLB also uses StatCast to track exit velocity during a game.