A fastball that flies like lightning and sticks into the catcher’s mitt is a pitcher’s dream and a baseball fan’s fantasy. This is because the speed of the ball gives more pleasure than expressed in numbers. Recently, a fastball craze is blowing in the KBO League. It was after Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha), a rookie in his second year as a pro, opened the 160 km/h era for the first time in the history of a Korean pitcher.
The most notable thing this season is that the top 5 fastball average speeders are all ‘native’ pitchers. Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom) was the fastest with an average speed of 154 km, followed by Kim Seo-hyun (Hanhwa, 153.5 km), Moon Dong-ju (151.7 km), Lee Min-seok (Lotte, 151 km), and Ko Woo-seok (LG, 150.7 km). Even in the highest restraint, Moon Dong-joo, who threw 160.1 km against KIA on the 12th of last month, was first, An Woo-jin was second (158.2 km, April 13 against Doosan), and Kim Seo-hyun was third (157.9 km, April 19 against Doosan). In the past, the ‘light speed ball’ of more than 150 km was the domain of foreign pitchers, but recently, domestic pitchers seem to be overwhelming. In addition, the average velocity of domestic pitchers this year was 142.6 km, about 1 km faster than the average of the last 10 years (141.7 km).
The requirements for the ‘fastball revolution’ are, first of all, innately strong shoulders and innate physical condition. Ahn Woo-jin (191 cm, 90 kg), Moon Dong-ju (188 cm, 98 kg), and Kim Seo-hyun (188 cm, 86 kg) stand out with their outstanding physical condition at a glance. Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels), who throws a 160 km light speed ball in the American professional baseball major league, also boasts a sturdy body of 193 cm and 92 kg. All of them are orthodox throwing the ball down from above. In addition, it is evaluated that the pitching mechanism such as fast waist rotation, stable center of gravity movement, and upper and lower body balance are perfectly harmonized.
As scientific analysis technology was added to the natural body, the speed accelerated. These days, even high school players train using state-of-the-art equipment that measures and analyzes physical characteristics. In particular, it has become possible to systematically correct pitching form with Labsodo (a portable pitching tracking device) and a portable Trackman that measure changes according to the angle of the arm or wrist. In fact, Ahn Woo-jin and Moon Dong-ju have been helped by this technology since they were students. SSG Pitching Coach Cho Woong-cheon analyzed, “These days, young players have good physical conditions, and their velocity has increased as scientific and systematic training has been added.” Basic skills and amount of training are just as important as physical condition. Since 2014, the average speed of fastballs in Japanese professional baseball has increased dramatically. Last year, the average velocity in Japanese professional baseball was 146.4 km in the Pacific League and 145.9 km in the Central League. In particular, Japan, which won the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, filled all 15 pitching entries with players with an average speed of 150 km or more. MBC commentator Jeong Min-cheol said, “Japan thoroughly teaches the basics, and the amount of training is two to three times greater than ours. Recently, my physical condition has improved remarkably. In the end, the number of pitchers who can throw fast balls has increased as the power is added while the ball is caught through a lot of training on the proper basics.”
크크크벳 However, it is not all about fast balls. A fastball is useless if you do not have the control to throw the ball exactly where you want it. Recently, due to the development of batting technology, batters often hit the 160km fastball that comes in the middle. In addition, there must be a definite breaking ball to complement the fastball, such as Seon Dong-yeol’s slider, Ryu Hyun-jin’s changeup, and Kim Gwang-hyun’s slider. Yang Sang-moon, sports commentator, said, “The pitcher’s basic pitch is his pitch. A fastball is useless if it is not backed up by the ball. He emphasized that if he is not supported by his main weapon, he will never be able to make a long run.”
In the KBO League, there are many young fastball pitchers such as Moon Dong-ju, Ahn Woo-jin, and Kim Seo-hyun, as well as Jang Jae-young (Kiwoom) and Jung Woo-young (LG). From May, when the temperature rises in earnest, it seems that a hot fastball competition will unfold. Commissioner Jeong said, “When the weather warms up, the range of motion such as arcs and joints widens. He explained that it is like the reason that if you extend the bowstring and shoot it, the distance increases.”