Aroldis Chapman’s Arm Stands Alone


Image credit: Aroldis Chapman (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Chapman has topped 100 and 101 mph this season.

In his first appearance in 2024 on Thursday, Pirates lefthander Aroldis Chapman threw a 99.7 mph fastball. In his second appearance, he threw two 100 mph fastballs and one measured at 101.2 mph.

And with that, Chapman extended a streak that seems hard to fathom. He’s now thrown a 100 mph or harder fastball in 15 consecutive seasons. Going back to his rookie year in 2010, Chapman has reached triple-a digits each and every season. We’re watching one of the most remarkable and durable arms in baseball history.

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Throwing 100 mph is remarkable, although it feels much more commonplace now than it did when Chapman amazed everyone with his exceptional velocity as a rookie in 2010.

But throwing 100 mph year after year and staying healthy is something that just doesn’t happen. Throwing 100 mph or harder is like asking a pitcher to hit their rev limiter. Most pitchers will eventually blow out.

In a 15-season MLB career, Chapman has had a broken eye socket due to a comebacker. He’s missed time with a sore knee and another time with Achilles tendinitis. He even missed time with an infected tattoo. And he was suspended for 30 games by Rob Manfred after an accusation of domestic violence.

But in 15 seasons, Chapman has spent 11 days on the IL with a sore left elbow and a month on the IL another time with rotator cuff soreness. Those are the only times his arm or shoulder has balked at throwing pitch after pitch at velocities that make ulnar collateral ligaments shudder in fear.

He’s never had a significant injury that led to a stint on the 60-day injured list. Other than the shortened 2020 season, he’s made at least 40 appearances in every year from 2011 to 2023. His 729 appearances are fifth most among active players and 96th among pitchers all time.

Chapman’s 15 straight seasons with a 100 mph fastball is easily the record of the pitch tracking era (2008-present). To have this streak means that your velocity never dips for a year, and you can never miss a season with injury.

Chapman’s 15 seasons with a 100+ mph fastball are five more than any other pitcher (Nathan Eovaldi has a 100+ mph in 10 seasons). But when it comes to a consecutive season streak, there is no one even close. 

Craig Kimbrel had eight straight seasons with a 100 mph fastball, but he last saw triple digits in 2018. As impressive as Kimbrel’s streak is, it’s a reminder of how hard it is to maintain this velocity for this long. When Kimbrel’s streak began in 2011, Chapman was already a year into his streak. Chapman has kept doing so for another six years since and could keep doing so for more years to come.

Eovaldi may have 10 seasons with a 100 mph fastball, but there are gaps. Where Chapman has never been on the 60-day injured list, Eovaldi has been on the 60-day IL in five different seasons. Eovaldi reached triple digits in 2018-2022 (five straight), but he didn’t get there in 2023, and he didn’t in 2017 because he missed the entire season. He had another streak from 2013-2016, but he didn’t in 2012 after getting to 100 mph in 2011.

Gerrit Cole has nine 100-mph seasons, but he also didn’t get to 100 mph in 2023, and he didn’t in 2016, so his longest streak is six (2017-2022). He’s been on the 60-day IL in two different seasons, including right now.

The longest active streak other than Chapman is five straight seasons, a mark currently held by Jacob deGrom and Brusdar Graterol. DeGrom has been on the 60-day IL in five different seasons, including each of the past four.

To break Chapman’s streak, deGrom would have to touch 100 mph every year until 2033, which seems unlikely for a 35-year-old currently on the injured list. Graterol’s path seems more possible, considering he’s only 25-years-old, but he’ll need to stay healthy and throwing heat for more than a decade. He’s currently on the injured list.

But even if Graterol manages to somehow do that, that wouldn’t match Chapman’s ability to maintain top-end velocity because setting the bar at 100 mph is actually selling Chapman short.

Chapman has also touched 101 mph for 15 straight seasons. Trevor Rosenthal’s six seasons (2012-2017) with a 101 mph fastball is second most in the pitch tracking era. Rosenthal hurt his elbow in 2017 and never topped 101 mph again.

Chapman’s streak of seasons with a 102 mph fastball stretched for only 11 seasons (2010-2021). He failed to touch 102 mph in 2022, but he did get to 102 in 2023, so he could extend a new streak if he gets there again this year. Jordan Hicks’ five seasons of 102+ is the second most in baseball. Hicks is working on a three-season streak of 102 mph that’s still active, but he blew out his elbow in 2019 and missed all of 2020 and most of 2021 as he recovered.

Chapman also has 11 different seasons where he’s thrown 103 mph or harder, including a nine-year streak (2010-2018), and he did so in 2023. Hicks (five seasons) is the only other pitcher with a 103 mph fastball or harder in more than two seasons in the pitch-tracking era.

When we get to 104 mph, Chapman has done so in eight different seasons, with a six-year streak from 2013-2018. The entire rest of the MLB pitching world has only seen seven other pitchers ever throw 104 mph once in a game in the pitch-tracking era, and only Jordan Hicks (2018, 2019 and 2023) has ever done so in more than one season.

You have to get to 105 mph before you get to a velocity that Chapman hasn’t been able to reach in back-to-back seasons. He did so once in 2010, and he did so seven times in 2016, but that’s it. Of course, that puts him in a realm all his own. Jordan Hicks is the only other pitcher to get there when he had two 105 mph pitches in 2018.

Chapman has thrown more 103, 104 and 105 mph pitches than all other MLB pitchers combined in the pitch-tracking era. He’s thrown more than double as many 99, 100, 101 and 102 mph pitches as any other MLB pitcher since 2008, and he’s thrown more 97 and 98 mph pitches than any other pitcher as well.

You have to lower the bar to 96 mph to find a velocity where another pitcher has thrown more pitches at that velocity than Chapman. Gerrit Cole does reign supreme for 96+. But that’s because Chapman rarely throws a fastball softer than 97. Of his 9,069 fastballs in his career, only 652 didn’t touch 97.

There have been pitchers who can approximate Chapman’s velocity for a short period of time, but when it comes to sustaining exceptional velocity year after year, he’s the best the game has seen since Nolan Ryan retired.

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