Reds flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman is almost ready to return from facial fractures, but in the meantime the Hardest-Thrower In Baseball title belongs to someone new.
Here are the leaders in average fastball velocity after one month of the season among pitchers with at least 10 innings, according to Fan Graphs:
Yordano Ventura 96.7
Nathan Eovaldi 96.0
Garrett Richards 95.9
Gerrit Cole 95.6
Jose Fernandez 95.4
Ages of the five starters with the fastest average fastballs: 22, 24, 25, 23, 21. And apparently being named Garrett/Gerrit helps, too. My crush on Yordano Ventura is well-documented in this space, but suffice it to say that the Royals rookie is living up to the hype, velocity-wise and performance-wise, leading all starters with both a 96.7 mph fastball average and a 1.50 ERA. He’s a bad, bad man.
Kelvin Herrera 97.1
Carlos Martinez 97.0
Jordan Walden 96.7
Jake McGee 96.7
Trevor Rosenthal 96.2
Just for some context, Chapman averaged 98.3 mph with his fastball last season. St. Louis places setup man Carlos Martinez and closer Trevor Rosenthal in the top five velocity list and Jake McGee of the Rays is the only left-hander in either top five.
Oh, and the softest-thrower in baseball? Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey at 82.0 mph, followed by slop-slinging southpaws Mark Buehrle at 83.2 mph and Bruce Chen at 83.9 mph.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.