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.
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.