- Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati Reds)
Did you guess it? I sure didn’t. I had my money on Jim Johnson.
In all seriousness, I consider Aroldis Chapman the best relief pitcher in baseball, as well as a top-five pitcher overall. Chapman dominates on the mound. He has the best fastball in the league, and after his 2014 year we know he is seriously ready to use it.
Chapman’s average fastball velocity over his four-year career is 98.6 mph, which is good enough for best all-time. In 2014, Chapman showed us a new extreme when he averaged 100.3 mph. In 2014, I saw one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen by any pitcher. After Chapman came back from a horrifying line drive to the head, he set all new records for himself.
Already the all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings, Chapman outdid himself by striking out 17.7 batters per nine innings this past year; his previous high (which had been the record) was 15.8. Chapman also led all relief pitchers in FIP this year, separating himself from Wade Davis in second place by a full .20.
Chapman may not have all of the accolades that Kimbrel has yet, though he does have plenty of his own, but his performance in 2014 showed me that he is ready to be top dog.
Previous Articles In This Series:
Top 5 Designated Hitters https://www.baseballessential.com/news/2015/03/02/power-rankings-top-5-designated-hitters-in-15/