Thor throws the fastest everything

Mets flamethrower tops velocity leaderboard among starters for several pitches, not just fastballs

March 26th, 2018

has had an impressive spring. He hit 101 mph in his debut against the Astros. Syndergaard struck out seven consecutive Nationals a few outings later. He was named the Mets' Opening Day starter.

But that's just Spring Training. Come the regular season, baseball fans might be watching Syndergaard do unprecedented things for a starting pitcher.

Syndergaard stands alone among starters in terms of sheer velocity. The headline-grabbers are his monster fastballs, a four-seamer and sinker, but his power stuff extends across his arsenal, to his changeup and slider, too. Syndergaard enters 2018 with the hardest velocity among MLB starting pitchers in all four of those pitch types.

Syndergaard is a freak, and he can make even the best hitters in the world can look overmatched. Take his showdown with reigning American League Most Valuable Player Award winner in his first Spring Training start. After pumping in multiple 100-plus-mph fastballs, Syndergaard struck out Altuve on a 92-mph changeup. After the game, Altuve could only say, "If he throws that changeup to me 100 times, he's going to strike me out 100 times."

With Thor's Opening Day start fast approaching, here's a look at how the 6-foot-6, 240-pound right-hander has separated himself from the rest of MLB.

The century mark

owns the pinnacle of velocity -- even Syndergaard doesn't throw 105 mph -- but he has a relief pitcher's benefit of max effort over short bursts. Syndergaard handles full-game workloads, and he still repeatedly hits triple digits on the radar gun. There isn't any other starter who does it to a similar degree.

Most pitches thrown 100-plus mph by starters since May 12, 2015

Syndergaard's MLB debut

1. Noah Syndergaard: 210

2. : 96

3. Yordano Ventura: 61

4. : 55

5. : 35

Since his big league debut, Syndergaard has thrown more than twice as many pitches 100 mph or harder than any other starting pitcher. There have been 520 pitches thrown 100 mph or harder in all of MLB. More than 40 percent of them belong to Thor. With a healthy 2018, the gap between him and the rest of the league will likely only increase.

And think about this: Syndergaard hasn't just thrown the most 100-mph pitches of any starter since his debut -- he's thrown the most in the entire pitch-tracking era.

Most pitches thrown 100-plus mph by starters since 2008

First year of pitch-tracking data availability

1. Noah Syndergaard: 210

2. Yordano Ventura: 188

3. : 182

4. Nathan Eovaldi: 112

5. : 82

Pitch-tracking data goes back to 2008. Syndergaard has pitched in three of those 10 seasons, and that includes his seven-start 2017. He still tops the list.

No such thing as offspeed

In 2016, Syndergaard fully introduced the hard slider into his repertoire -- recall the eye-popping 95-mph slider he threw to the Royals' with the bases loaded on Opening Day, before striking him out with another at 93 mph. Since then, he has averaged over 90 mph on both his slider and changeup. These are offspeed pitches, and he's throwing them as hard as some starters throw fastballs.

Gif: Syndergaard slider Opening Day 2016

Syndergaard's average slider velocity since 2016 is 91.5 mph (91.4 mph in '16 and 92.3 mph in '17). His average changeup velocity is 90.3 mph (90.3 mph in '16 and 90.2 mph in '17). An incredible 76.2 percent of Syndergaard's sliders and changeups have exceeded the 90-mph mark.

Even when you include his slower, low-80s curveball, more than 60 percent of Syndergaard's "offspeed" pitches since 2016 have been 90 mph or harder. That is nearly three times the rate of the next-closest starter, the Rays' Chris Archer.

Highest percent of offspeed pitches thrown 90-plus mph by starters since 2016

Minimum 200 offspeed pitches thrown

1. Noah Syndergaard: 60.3 percent

2. Chris Archer: 22.3 percent

3. : 22.0 percent

4. : 20.6 percent

5. : 19.4 percent

And it's not as if Syndergaard loses deception because his offspeed pitches are too hard. Because of his extreme fastball velocity, the differential between Thor's fastballs and offspeed pitches is on par with the rest of the Majors. For example, he had an 8.4-mph differential between his four-seamer and changeup in 2017, according to Statcast™, while the average differential for an MLB pitcher was 8.0 mph (for the group of 298 pitchers who threw at least 50 of each pitch type).

No. 1 across the board

Syndergaard throws five pitches: His four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup and curveball. For four of those pitches -- all except the curve -- Thor ranked No. 1 in average velocity among starting pitchers each of the past two years.

Syndergaard's average velocity by pitch type in 2017

Four-seam fastball: 98.6 mph (SP rank: 1)

Sinker: 98.0 mph (SP rank: 1)

Slider: 92.3 mph (SP rank: 1)

Changeup: 90.2 mph (SP rank: 1)

Curveball: 84.4 mph (SP rank: T-4)

Syndergaard's average velocity by pitch type in 2016

Four-seam fastball: 98.6 mph (SP rank: 1)

Sinker: 98.6 mph (SP rank: 1)

Slider: 91.4 mph (SP rank: 1)

Changeup: 90.3 mph (SP rank: 1)

Curveball: 84.4 mph (SP rank: 12)

No other starting pitcher has had a repertoire like that in any season of the pitch-tracking era. Only Syndergaard has led the Major Leagues in velocity in four pitch types. He's unique, and he looks primed to have even bigger things ahead of him.