Truth About Velocity and Radar Guns

Hello, here is great measuring tool to see what pitchers really throw. MLB game day will verify my findings if you watch pitch by pitch. Also, I have seen many video’s online with radar gun readings(Stalker and Jugs).

When I played baseball back in 1997, I was clocked with old police radar guns and the famous Decatur radar gun. Though, Jugs was being used by pro scouts. I was clocked in high school 77-84 mph on the Decatur. During a state game for American Legion, I was told I was throwing 88+. I was very skeptical at that time. I was 5’7" 145lbs. Today I’m 5’7" and 170lbs. I bought a Stalker radar and I pulled out my old Decatur radar gun. I’m currently working back into playing men’s baseball in Pensacola, FL next year 2020. I’m 41 yrs old and wanted to challenge myself to see if I still have it in me. This is what I found out.

2 months of throwing twice a week running and lifting weights.

40 yard dash 4.8 sec
Ball speed off batting tee/exit velocity 85-90 mph (aluminum bat)
Pitch speed: 77- 80 mph Stalker. Decatur Radar: 69-72 mph.

Example: 80 Peak release speed, 72 plate (Stalker)
Example: 72 as fast as I could throw at this time on (Decatur Radar) gun. The radar gun is accurate and tested with tuning fork and compared to a Bushnell (cheap radar) with same speed.

Here is a run down of the old radar guns and guns that pick speed up at the end of pitch like the Bushnell. The faster speeds are the Stalker and Jugs guns.

Decatur/Bushnell Stalker/Jugs (release speed)
60mph 67-68mph
65mph 72-73mph
70mph 77-78mph
75mph 82-83mph
80mph 87-88mph
85mph 93-94mph
90mph 98-99mph
95mph 103-104mph (A. Chapman) MLB Pitcher
100mph 107-108mph (Nolan Ryan) WOW! Flame Thrower Dude

So, maybe I was really throwing 88mph when I was 16 yrs old 5’7" 145lbs.
Decatur 77-84. Stalker/Jugs 84-92mph based on radar gun differences today.

My goal is to throw 90+ just to see if I can do it. :slight_smile:

Check your speed against these and you’ll see I’m right on point!

Thanks,

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The speed you see at MLB parks and on TV is clocked 10 feet in front of the pitching rubber. When Nolan Ryan was clocked in the dome by a DARPA developed radar it was just in front of home plate.

What you get from a modern gun is a peak velocity.

If you haven’t seen it, check out the documentary film “Fastball”. It goes deep into the various methods used to gauge pitch speeds dating back to the early 1900’s. I think it’s available on both Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Cool, I’ll have to check it out.

Yeah, that would explain why the Bushnell and the older Decatur radar is about 7-8 mph slower on readings. I know my brother threw 82-85 mph on the Decatur and Tim Hudson played against him in college. I saw Tim Hudson throwing 84-87mph on Decatur back in the day. My brother threw 88-93 mph on Jugs. I saw Tim Hudson when he played for Atlanta and the TV had him 92-94mph. So, I looks like what we see from radar readings today are about anywhere from 6-8mph difference from older radar speeds back in the day. So, when people say pitchers are throwing harder, I would say not really. The speeds are faster because they are being picked up at the release point. I just think this is ironic. A Cub scout once said I threw too slow. But, if the Stalker or Jugs was used I would of clocked in the upper 80’s low 90’s. Which is not bad for a 16 yr old. Then again I was only 5’7" and we know how people are caught up in size. LOL That’s why I’m proud of Jose Altuve and Tim Collins for representing the little guys.

I respectfully disagree with the statement that pitchers are not throwing harder today than even back in 1997… they are definitely throwing harder. Although, as you pointed out, due to the differences in the guns the average increase in velocity is difficult to put a number on… today, baseball players are stronger due to advances in training and technological advances than they were 20 years ago. The ability to use a smart phone for slow motion video allows anyone to take a look at their mechanics during a bullpen session, accurate and affordable devices such as the “Pocket Radar” allow players to quantify changes and training results… and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Just about anyone can find help on the internet through remote training with places such as “Driveline Baseball” or “Tread Athletics” for example.

I was about 10 years before you and back in the mid 80’s there were two guns that were used that I was aware of… the Ray Gun and the Jugs Gun. My understanding was the Ray Gun would pick up the ball just as it was crossing home plate and the Jugs Gun would pick it up out of the hand. All of the pro scouts in our area used the Ray Gun. As a junior and senior in high school I would sit 81 to 83 on the Ray Gun. I went to played college ball at a D1 in Louisiana that used the Jugs Gun. I would sit 88-92 on Jugs gun. I am sure the some of that increase was due to the difference in the guns but a good deal of it was due to conditioning. My roommate in college was at about the same velocity and went on to play two years in the bigs with the Texas Rangers. I played with and against several guys in summer leagues that made it and a few that had 10+ years in the big leagues and all were in the upper 80’s low 90’s on the Jugs gun. I do recall some saying as your velocity increased the difference in the guns decreased… I don’t know if this was true or not but I was keeping the gun readings one game and the opposing team’s starter was the #1 overall pick that year in the draft. There were many pro scouts sitting around me and some had Ray Guns and some had Jugs Guns… This fella was consistently 95-97 on the Jugs and 93 to 95 on the Ray…

I believe the biggest factor in the velocity increase in recent years is due to advances in training. I know when I played it was frowned upon for pitchers to lift heavy weights and get “big”. Think back several years ago when guys, such as John Smoltz, had “Tommy John” surgery. Those guys were coming back from the surgery throwing harder than before they had the surgery due to the conditioning, ie. weight lifting, they went through during their recovery. I thing a “lightbulb went off” and coaches and trainers realized maybe lifting and getting “big” wasn’t such a bad thing for pitchers.

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Hello CBC, thanks for posting. I do agree with some of what you are saying. Though, I wasn’t saying that all pitchers are throwing harder and I’m not comparing them to pitchers from 1909-1980’s. I just think that the radar guns used to show the speed on TV back when the so called Ray gun was not being used. When Jugs took over the market around the that time 6-8 mph on a fastball would appear pitchers are throwing faster. Yet, I do agree that pitchers do have the best technology and training programs to help them throw harder. Also, what you are calling a Ray Gun is any radar gun that is old or new that picks up the ball near the home plate. Yet, I don’t agree that all pro scouts are using dinosaurs radar guns or the cheap Bushnell radar to clock athletes. I have 4 radar devices. Decatur Radar, Bushnell, Jugs Cube, and Stalker Sport 2. The Stalker Sport 2 is 499.00 and has the best technology out of all radar devices. Also, the Pocket Radar gets the release speed. If I’m a college or Pro scout why would I use such out of date technology to find the best athlete? My finding on speed differences are correct. If you don’t believe me log into MLB.com, click on a live game, click game day. As the pitches come in hover over the pitch and it will show you the radar speeds. One for release and one for result (plate speed). Watch the game live on TV and compare the speed to the one on your computer. It says it all. I’ll agree to disagree with some of your points. Though, I do appreciate your post and some of what you said I do agree with.

Thanks,

Back in the “day” the pitch speed was rarely displayed on TV. At least not the way it is now. I know many have indicated the velocity displayed in modern times are for entertainment purposes. I recall reading someplace the “standard” in all MLB parks was to display the speed of the ball at release beginning in 2019… my memory may be a little fuzzy on that detail as I can’t recall were I heard/read that… The “average” high school velocity may not have changed much - notice “average” - but if you look at the pitchers in college and minor league ball it has definitely increased on average and that is not due to a difference in the guns being used today.

I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying about pro scouts using the Ray Gun… back in the 1980s in the geographical area I was playing it seemed all of them used the Ray… today I believe all of them are using the Stalker gun… The difference in speeds between the Ray and Jugs, again back when I was playing, seemed to be 3 - 4 mph on average.

I don’t believe you will see any college coaches or pro scouts using the Pocket Radar. However, they are remarkably accurate for the cost and convenience. I don’t have any “side by side” data but my son was 86-87 on the Pocket Radar on an outside mound in low 40’s weather. Three days later on an indoor mound at a heated facility he was 89-91 on a Stalker. This past summer he was he was 92 on the pocket radar and two weeks ago 94.9 on a Stalker… my point being is there are too many variables to say one is more accurate than the other. The only way to truly compare them are to have them side by side tracking the same pitch… and even then if the two guns being compared are within a mph or two of another how can you say which one is right and which one is wrong? Every gun is going to have a “glitch” from time to time and none of the commercially available guns are going to correct 100% of the time.

I watched a tournament director gun my son in a game last summer with a stalker in one hand and a pocket radar in the other. They were getting the same reading on most pitches with a 1mph variance on a few pitches. He was gunning him with the pocket radar at 1st then specifically went and got the Stalker to verify the pocket radar readings before posting to the tournament twitter feed.

Yes, I do agree with you on what you said CBC. I think we were miss understanding what each other was trying to point out. You are totally correct on what you posted. On what you said about TV. I remember Mark Wholers pitching around a 100 mph for Atlanta. This was around the time Tom Glavin, Greg Maddox, ect pitched. Wasn’t that early 90’s. I remember them putting speed on the TV screen. Also, that was about the time I was around 14 yrs old. I do remember they were using Ray Guns. This was close to the same time I first heard about the Jugs gun. Also, you are correct in the speed differences people were claiming between the Ray and Jugs gun (3-4mph) difference. I threw the other day and the Decatur and Bushnell had me around 69-72 mph and the Stalker Sport 2 had me at 77-80mph. I found out that my velocity varied on how tired my arm was even if it wasn’t sore. There was one day I couldn’t hit 75mph on the Stalker. I rested for 3 days and I hit 80mph. So, your sons speed variance could have been from fatigue/rest time. I am impressed when I seen major league starters/relievers stay constant with velocity. Even when I was in high school I know I had days that I sucked. I saw the ball come out of my hand and said “that is straight meat!” lol.

TXJIM I agree with the pocket radar. I think this picks up release speed.

Thanks guys for your comments. When people read post like this it can clear up many questions on how to gauge how fast you are really throwing.

I spoke with my son on the phone this evening about the differences in radar guns… he has access to a minor league facility that he and some of his teammates use during the off season. At this facility they use the Stalker gun. He has a “velocity day” coming up this Tuesday and I ask him if he could have one of his teammates use the Pocket Radar next to the Stalker to see the difference the readings. He said they have already done that exercise several times and the two guns read the same velocity the majority of the time and they have not observed a difference of more than 1 mph one way or the other between the two…

Sounds about right. The Pocket Radar is a fairly new technology and should pick the ball at release point. This would have a 6-8 mph difference then say older model radar guns and new Bushnell. Bushnell doesn’t pick up at release point. I’ve compared radar speeds when I was throwing. The Jugs, Jugs Cube, Stalker, and Pocket Radar pick up at release point. Something I do notice is that if I’m tossing and not putting much on the throw, the stalker reading would say something like this:

40 mph release and 36mph plate. Stalker, 37mph Bushnell (This must be because the velocity doesn’t change to much from the ball in flight)

When I throw harder say 81mph the release is 81 mph and plate is 75mph. Bushnell 75-76mph

I think the gap between the release and plate speeds are determined by a lot of factors. Though, arm length and the amount of force the pitcher is throwing the ball determines how much the ball slows down. The gap becomes wider as the ball is thrown harder. I once saw A. Chapman throwing on ESPN. MLB.com game day had his release at 101mph and plate 93 mph. 8 mph gap. I would assume the Bushnell would have registered 94-95 mph.

I’m sorry I disagree that the Bushnell is up to 8 MPH slow. My son just turned 10 and is registering 59 on the Bushnell. There is no way he is really throwing upwards of 65+ MPH though I do know he throws fast for his age.

I have a Bushnell, Jugs Cube, and Stalker and speed separation is greater at higher velocities due to gravity. If you read my post and try it out by comparing the Bushnell to a Jugs, Stalker, or Pocket Radar you’ll see I’m correct. I would say that if your son is throwing 59 mph on the Bushnell, I would suspect somewhere around 4-6 difference then the guns that pick up at release. Now, as his velocity increases to say 74 mph on the Bushnell, he would be throwing 80-81 mph on the radar guns with release speed. The reason why I know this is because I clocked myself with three different radar devices (Bushnell, Jugs Cube, and the Stalker Sport 2) I’m currently registering 78-81mph on the Jugs Cube and Stalker Sport 2 and 71-74 on the Bushnell. As I keep posting, if you guys don’t believe what I’m saying…When the MLB season starts turn on your TV to a live game, go to MLB.com on your computer and go to the live game(it’s free) and go to the screen that show a computer animated picture of the view behind the plate. When the pitch is thrown on TV you will see the same throw on the computer. Hover over the pitch and it will show you the stats. You will see the release speed of the pitch and the result speed (plate speed). No matter how many pitchers I watched there was a 6-8 mph gap between the release speed and result speed (plate speed). When your son is throwing, his velocity the gap would be some what slower because the distance he is throwing and the speed he’s throwing. When I throw a ball say 41 mph on the Bushnell it registers somewhere around 45 mph on the Jugs or Stalker. As I throw harder the speed gap increases slightly by a few mph. The reason is the velocity is higher and gravity takes on it’s natural rules and the ball slows down faster. Believe me, just try out what I’m saying you’ll see I’m spot on. Sorry you don’t agree, but if you try out what I’m saying, I bet I’ll change your mind:) You’ll have a new AHhh moment.

Example:
Stalker Bushnell < When Radar Gun picks up baseball

Release: 45-----------43-----------42---------41 Stop in the mitt. Distance 45 feet. 4 mph difference

          Stalker                                          Bushnell           < When Radar Gun picks up baseball

Release: 88-----------85-----------83---------82---------81 Stop in the mitt 60.6 feet 7 mph difference

I agree i think the difference is more like 3-5 mph.

These are the Radar Devices that I’ve used for comparing speed differences.

I will try it this weekend, I have the pocket radar available. I will be stunned if he is in the 63-65 range.

Let me know how it goes. When I first started throwing I had my wife hold the Decatur in one hand and I had the Stalker Sport Pro 2 on a tripod. At first I was about 15-20 feet away from backstop tossing. Decatur would say 32mph and Stalker 34mph. As I backed up and threw harder say around 50 feet I noticed that I would be say 62mph on Decatur and Release 68mph Plate 61mph on Stalker. So when you try this out, have your son throw up close and then about 45 feet to 50 feet and see if the speed gap widens. I would think he’s going to throw 3-5 mph faster then the Bushnell on the Pocket radar. As he gets older and he throws further away and faster, you should see a noticeable difference. My Stalker Pro Sport 2 has my velocity since last throwing at 80-81 mph release and 73-75 mph plate Speed. This also depends if I’m throwing 4 seam or two seam with some tailing motion.

Check this picture out. 77 mph on Bushnell 86.5 mph release and 75.2 plate on Stalker Sport 2


Pocket Radar and Stalker pick up at release point.