165.1 km/h Fujinami overtakes ‘rival’ Otani—fastest ball ever thrown by a Japanese pitcher
Shintaro Fujinami (Baltimore Orioles) throws a fastball that reaches 165.1 kilometers per hour. It is the fastest fastball ever thrown by a Japanese pitcher.
Fujinami took a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) interleague home game against the New York Mets at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., on Sunday (July 7) and retired the opposition’s No. 3 through No. 5 hitters in order in one inning. It was Fujinami’s first hold in eight games since being acquired from Baltimore.
Notably, he threw a total of nine pitches on the day, all for strikes. They were six four-seam fastballs, two cut fastballs, and a splitter.
Even more impressive was his control. On that day, Fujinami touched 102.6 mph (165.1 km/h) on a four-seam fastball to DJ Stewart with the bases loaded. It broke his previous fastball high of 164.3 mph.
It was the fastest pitch thrown by a Japanese major leaguer in the U.S. since MLB introduced Statcast in 2015. The previous record was 163.2 km/h (101.4 mph) by Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels) on September 19, 2022, against the Houston Astros. Fujinami surpassed Ohtani’s big league top speed by 1.9 miles per hour.
Fujinami formed a rivalry with Ohtani in high school. While Ohtani grew into one of the top players in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Fujinami faltered. Ohtani came to the U.S. under a huge spotlight, and after this season, he is expected to become the first player in history to break the $500 million mark.
Fujinami, meanwhile, signed with Oakland last winter on a one-year, $30 million (3.9 billion won) short-term deal. After being pushed out of the starting rotation and moved to the bullpen, he struggled with his pitches. But he gradually settled down in June and showed flashes of power before being traded to East-leading Baltimore last month.
Fujinami can now give Ohtani a run for his money, at least with his fastball.
Until now, the highest fastball recorded in Nippon Professional Baseball was 165 km/h. Ohtani did it once in the Climax Series with the Nippon Ham Fighters, and “Perfect Pitcher” Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines) also topped 165 mph in April of this year.
Fujinami set a new fastball record (165.1 km/h) for a Japanese pitcher in the big leagues. In his first season in the big leagues, he threw over 100 mph (160.9 km/h) 92 times.
In eight appearances since joining Baltimore, Fujinami has a combined ERA of 3.12 (three earned runs in eight and two-thirds innings). He has a low batting average of 0.133 and a walks allowed per inning (WHIP) of 1.04. That’s well below his 5-8 record and 8.57 ERA in an Oakland uniform (0.269 batting average, 1.66 WHIP).메이저놀이터
Baltimore went 2-0 on the day to take over the district lead (70-42). “I’m proud of Fujinami, he showed what kind of pitcher he is,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said after the game.