Loki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte) has been making waves in Japanese professional baseball this season with a fastball velocity of up to 165 kilometers. On two occasions, he hit 165 kilometers, the fastest fastball in Japan.
On March 13, Japanese media outlet Full Count called Hiroto Saiki’s (24, Hanshin) fastball “the hardest fastball to hit in Japan, surpassing Roki Sasaki.
Saiki, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in November 2020, returned to the first team in July last year and won four games. This season, he is 5-3 with a 1.53 ERA in nine games.
He is tied for fourth in the Central League in wins and second in ERA. His 61 strikeouts are second in the league. His 0.90 WHIP is second in the league.
After a three-game losing streak at the end of April, Sasaki spent three weeks in the second team making adjustments before returning to the first team on May 21 and has won four straight since. He handed Sasaki his first loss of the season with a complete game shutout in a start against Chiba Lotte on May 4.
According to Full Count, “According to data from DELTA, which analyzes baseball from a sabermetrics perspective, Saiki’s average fastball velocity is 149.6 mph, which ranks 10th (among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched in a season). Sasaki’s fastball averages 159.5 mph. Saiki’s fastball percentage is 56.1 percent, the fifth-highest among league pitchers.” 안전놀이터
“Of particular note is the ‘wFA’ number, which is the sum of runs added or lost by the fastball. Saiki has a wFA of 11.0, the highest of any pitcher in the league this season. A high wFA is an indicator of good fastball results. Foster Griffin (Yomiuri) is second at 8.9. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix) is at 8.3 and Sasaki is at 7.9.”
This makes Saiki’s fastball the best fastball in Japan, topping out at 165 kilometers and averaging 160 kilometers.