The 5 Best Fastballs of 2022

Pitchers who threw the 5 best fastballs in MLB in 2022.

What’s up everyone!

I’m in the middle of my annual pitch review series, where I take a look at the five best pitches of each pitch type from 2022, as ranked by PLV! Today, we’re going to be looking at the five best fastballs of 2022.

If you’d like a closer look at what this article series is about, check out the first article in the series on the five best changeups of 2022. Also, check out my other articles in the series:

And if you’d like an in-depth primer on what PLV is and how it works, check it out here.

Otherwise, let’s get to the five best fastballs of 2022!


5. Zack Wheeler



If Zack Wheeler has anything going for him, it’s his fastball. In fact, his fastball has been one of his best pitches, if not his best pitch, for quite some time now.

Averaging 96 MPH and above-average spin, Wheeler’s fastball logged a 35.2% CSW, 14.1% swinging-strike rate, .292 wOBA and .279 xwOBA against, and as you can see, his fastball and his sinker really helped anchor his repertoire:

Wheeler threw his fastball early in counts where you’d expect it, though his sinker and slider were thrown early on more often than his fastball. Wheeler would throw his fastball in two-strike counts, when he was behind in counts, basically all the time. When your fastball is this good, why wouldn’t you?


4. Craig Kimbrel



Craig Kimbrel’s season last year wasn’t incredible, but it wasn’t terrible either, with a 3.75 ERA and 3.23 FIP through 63 games with 22 saves and two holds.

Kimbrel throws two pitches—his fastball and his curveball, and both were good last year. The fastball averaged around 96 MPH with a 30.1% CSW and a .339 wOBA and .319 xwOBA against, which is about what you’d expect from Kimbrel’s fastball.

The curveball, on the other hand, took a step back last year. While a 35% chase rate, 18% swinging-strike rate, 31.3% CSW, and a .229 wOBA against sound good (and they are), that’s a noticeable step back from his 2021 numbers with a 40.6% chase rate, 25.4% swinging-strike rate, 43.9% CSW, and a .133 wOBA against.

All of that said, Kimbrel is still a rock solid reliever at 34-years-old, even if he isn’t as lights-out as he used to be.


3. Andrew Heaney



Andrew Heaney was once again limited by injuries last year, but in the 16 games he pitched (14 starts), he looked as good as he’s looked in a long time.

Through 72.2 innings last year, Heaney posted a 3.10 ERA with a 3.75 FIP, 3.77 xERA, and a 35.5% strikeout rate, his best numbers since 2015. And as you can see, it was mostly anchored by his fastball:

Heaney’s fastball isn’t super high velocity. It comes in averaging around 93 MPH, but it’s got an above-average spin rate and, thanks to Heaney’s arm angle, comes in at an odd angle, making it fairly deceptive.

Last year, Heaney’s fastball posted some pretty good swing-and-miss numbers, with a 35.4% chase rate, 14.4% swinging-strike rate, and a 34.2% CSW, all of which are well above-average for a fastball.

As for the rest of his repertoire, Heaney’s slider (which was a brand new pitch last year) worked well as a putaway pitch, posting a 44.6% chase rate, 25.5% swinging-strike rate, and a 35.9% CSW. With that new pitch, Heaney moved away from using his curveball and changeup almost entirely, adopting more of a fastball/slider approach.

If that slider can continue to be good alongside his excellent fastball, Heaney could see some more success this year.


2. Jacob deGrom



When you’re talking about the greatest fastballs in baseball, inevitably you’re going to be talking about Jacob deGrom, and why wouldn’t you? The man has an incredible fastball.

In fact, if you ask PLV, he’s got an incredible everything:

Not only is his fastball great, his slider was tied with Emmanuel Clase’s slider for not only the best slider in baseball by PLV, but the best pitch in all of baseball by PLV.

But let’s talk about deGrom’s fastball. Averaging around 99 MPH (which is insane for an average), the pitch generated a 15.2% swinging-strike rate and a 35% CSW alongside a .286 wOBA and .304 xwOBA against.

Unfortunately, the story for deGrom last year was the story for deGrom most years—he couldn’t stay healthy. But in the 11 starts and 64.1 innings he pitched, he posted a 3.08 ERA with a 2.13 FIP and 2.20 xERA alongside a 42.7% strikeout rate. The man is incredible.


1. Yimi García



Hard to believe there’s a fastball better than Jacob deGrom’s, right? But by PLV, there is, and it’s Yimi García’s.

García pitched in 61 games for the Blue Jays last year as a reliever, and in those 61 games and 61 innings, pitched to a 3.10 ERA with a 3.48 FIP and 2.45 xERA alongside a 23.5% strikeout rate.

The fastball is a serious money maker for García. Averaging 95 MPH, last year it produced a 33.2% chase rate (which is pretty good for a fastball), a 16.7% swinging-strike rate, and a 30.5% CSW alongside a .174 wOBA and .188 xwOBA against.

The rest of García’s repertoire isn’t much to write home about. He throws a slider, curveball, sinker, and a changeup, and none of them produce eye-popping numbers. In fact, his main two-strike pitch is this fastball, and I mean, when your fastball is this good, why not?

Graphic adapted by: Chris Corr (@Chris_Studios on Twitter)

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

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