Michael Lorenzen is one of the better athletes in Major League Baseball. The reliever has dabbled as a two-way player in the Majors – getting action in the outfield and at the plate on top of being one of the Cincinnati Reds better relievers the last few years. He’s got power at the plate. He’s got speed that matches up with almost anyone in the game. And he has thrown a baseball 100 MPH off of the mound. Athlete.
In his own words, though, with as athletic and as strong as he is, he thinks he should be getting more out of his velocity. Speaking with the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nigthengale, Michael Lorenzen said this:
I said, ‘How am I this strong, how am I this explosive, how am I this mobile and how does this guy throw as hard as me? We (he and Trevor Bauer) looked at it and he’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re losing energy in a couple of ways and there is more in there that you can just pull out pretty easily.’ I’m going to make that fastball better this offseason.
For as much as you will hear “location and movement” from plenty of people, there’s a very strong correlation between velocity and strikeouts. That’s not to say location and movement don’t matter – they do. But velocity is very important. The harder a guy throws, the better the results tend to be.
In 2019 Michael Lorenzen has the best strikeout rate of his career. His 24.8% topped the mark of 23.8% that he had in 2016. His fastball velocity, however, wasn’t the best of his career. He averaged 97.28 MPH in 2019 on his 4-seam fastball and 96.61 on his 2-seam fastball. In 2017 he threw both pitches a minuscule amount harder at 97.43 and 96.73 on average.
According to the article, Michael Lorenzen thinks he can add 2-3 MPH to his fastball with correcting some of his mechanics. That would take him to the next level of relievers in terms of velocity. In 2019 he had the 16th highest velocity on average among 149 relievers in baseball with at least 50 innings pitched.
If he were to add even two ticks to his fastball, Michael Lorenzen would be the hardest thrower in baseball. That is, of course, if everyone else had the same velocity that they averaged in 2019. Only four pitchers – all relievers – averaged 98.0 MPH or higher. Felipe Vazquez led baseball at 98.5 MPH.
Obviously nothing happens until it happens. And maybe this won’t actually happen. But it’s another story worth keeping an eye on as the offseason progresses to see if this does start to work itself out as we head into the 2020 season.