LA Angels: Does Raisel Iglesias have the best fastball in the AL?

Raisel Iglesias, LA Angels. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Raisel Iglesias, LA Angels. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Baseball America’s popular survey of managers, scouts, and executives gives Raisel Iglesias of the LA Angels the second-best fastball in the American League.

Number one isn’t too big of a surprise, as it’s Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, a 2021 All-Star, has been regarded as one of the best relievers in baseball since 2012, despite having a bit of a down season after a couple months of some lights out pitching this year.

While I don’t want to discount Chapman’s electric fastball, I do want to take a look and see if Iglesias has actually been more effective with the fastball specifically for this season.

Raisel Iglesias has put a great fastball on display for the LA Angels this year.

Raisel Iglesias has an astonishing 3.7 fastball runs above average this season for the LA Angels. Chapman’s surprisingly at -1.9.

It’s not even too surprising when considering that Chapman is having the worst year of his career. Again, Chapman made the All-Star team this year. I’m not trying to gas up Iglesias here and discount how good of a pitcher he is.

All I’m saying is that Chapman has posted career-worsts in ERA (3.77), WHIP (1.419), walks per nine innings (6.5), and tied for a career-worst in HR/9 (1.5).

Now, when looking at these numbers, take into account that Chapman’s fastball is thrown 73% of the time. His statistical output is worse than Iglesias’ stats, and he’s throwing the fastball almost 75% of the time.

Iglesias’ stats on the year include a 2.70 ERA, an 0.833 WHP, and a 1.4 walks per nine innings rate. His numbers look much better than Chapman’s, who heavily utilizes his fastball. Stats by no means tell the whole story as to who a pitcher is, but when I see this, along with Chapman’s -1.9 fastball runs above average this season, it catches my attention.

Now, Chapman’s fastball is way faster than Iglesias’. Chapman’s four-seamer averages 98.7 miles per hour, and his split-fingered fastball averages 88.9 miles per hour.

As for Iglesias, his four-seamer (the only fastball he typically throws) is at 96.4 miles per hour on average. Still above 95, but those 2.3 miles per hour do matter.

If we’re talking all-time status, you’d be foolish not to take Chapman’s fastball. It’s why he was at the top of Baseball America’s list, and I totally understand and respect that. It’s hard not to.

It’s also why Chapman is still so respected around the league that he was selected as an All-Star this season, despite playing some of the worst baseball he ever has. The seven-time All-Star, 2019 AL Rivera Reliever Award winner earned that respect through his play in his career.

I do think, however, that Iglesias’ fastball has been better than Chapman’s solely based on this year’s performance. How you rank them depends on which perspective you’re using for it.

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Either way, both are outstanding pitchers, and have been big-time bullpen staples for the teams they have played for in their career. Imagine if they were still teammates.