Arguments could be made on either side that Chapman is the best closer in the game, or that he should fall off the list due to the fact he will be suspended until May 9 for a domestic violence incident. Even considering the late start to his season, he is getting the number three slot in the rankings this week due to his overwhelming dominance. If you follow baseball even as a casual fan, you probably know Aroldis Chapman for his explosive fastball.
Chapman threw the 62 fastest pitches in the major leagues last season. To give you a perspective of how much above the rest of the hard throwing pack Chapman is, Giancarlo Stanton is noted for how hard he hits the baseball and he had 16 of the top 50 hardest hit balls last year. Chapman’s average velocity for 2015 was 99.98 miles per hour. MLB.com added a special Chapman filter so he wouldn’t so completely dominate the fastest pitch category.
With a fastball that hard and a motion that has a lot of moving parts, you are going to have control issues. Chapman has walked 4.4 batters per nine innings for his career. On the flip side, he has averaged just 4.8 hits allowed per nine innings. This is why he has a .154 batting average allowed for his career. Even if he doesn’t have a strong second pitch, his fastball is so much quicker than anyone else batters don’t have much of a chance.
When Chapman was struck by a line drive in the face in March of 2014 in a Spring Training game there was some thought it might limit his effectiveness. When he came back from the consequent facial fractures, he was much the same pitcher as before, posting a 2.00 ERA that year, allowing just 21 hits in 54 innings pitched. The Yankees are hoping he can continue his dominant ways at the back of a fearsome bullpen which includes Dellin Betances, and former Red Sox Andrew Miller. The Red Sox are happy to be missing Chapman twice during his suspension. His arrival in New York should bring a new buzz to the rivalry.
Next: 4. Zach Britton