Statcast is only a couple years old, being first introduced into all Major League ballparks in 2015. But the advanced measuring technology is already providing some incredible data, impressive to both the casual baseball fan and the advanced stat geeks. It has provided the audience (and coaching staffs) with an interesting new perspective on how the game of baseball is played, including things like exit velocity, barrel percentage, or catcher pop speed.
We gathered some of the most impressive Statcast moments from 2017 and put them all together for baseball junkies to drool over. It will come as no surprise that New York Yankees rookie phenom Aaron Judge makes more than one appearance here, thanks to his ridiculous power (although that post-All-Star Game slump certainly derailed some of his hype).
Get ready for ridiculous grabs and outrageous dingers!
12. Byron Buxton’s 13-Second Homer
Before we get to the power, we’re going to talk about speed. The art of the stolen base may be waning in baseball (unless your name is Billy Hamilton), but that doesn’t mean speed is irreverent. It can be the different between taking cruising into first for a single or taking extra bases. The difference between scoring on a play or being held on third base. And, if you’re Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins, the difference between not having to actually hit the ball over the fence in order to record a home run.
After slapping 90 mph fastball from Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Godley off the wall in centerfield, Buxton used his incredible speed (and a fortunate bounce) to round the bases in a mere 13.85 seconds, for the best home-to-home time ever recorded. Breaking the record wasn’t that special though, since it was already Buxton’s to begin with.
— #Statcast (@statcast) August 19, 2017
11. Jackie Bradley Jr. Guns Down Matt Carpenter
In an alternate universe, Jackie Bradley Jr. is probably a pitcher. He may only stand 5’10” tall, but just look at this laser he throws from center field to gun down Matt Carpenter at home plate. Sure, Carpenter had to pause and make sure the ball wasn’t caught before he left third, but JBJ unleashes a perfect 96 mph heater right on target. The throw beats Carpenter to the plate by a solid 10 feet, making it an easy tag for Red Sox catcher Christian Vasquez.
— #Statcast (@statcast) August 17, 2017
10. Aaron Judge’s Ridiculous Exit Velocity
Aaron Judge smashed his way into the hearts of baseball fans almost right away in 2017. He wears an unconventional No. 99 on his jersey, stands a mammoth 6’7″ tall, weighs 280-pounds, and absolutely slugs the crap out the baseball. According to Statcast, Judge owns the top four swings when ranked by Exit Velocity, and five of the top six (Giancarlo Stanton breaks up the Judge streak at No. 5). That’s the four hardest hit balls in the Majors, all performed by one guy.
Back in June, Judge smashed an 85 mph pitch from Baltimore’s Chris Tillman into the stands at a blistering 121.1 mph! The rest of his hardest hit balls aren’t far behind, coming in betwee 118 and 120 mph. Of course, he also set records for the most consecutive games with at least one strikeout, so his season hasn’t been all dingers and smile. Doesn’t matter though, because this particular list has plenty more of Judge to come.
9. CarGo Makes a 5% Catch
Catch probability was a new metric added to Statcast in 2017. To put it simply, it measures how likely it is that a fly ball will be caught. The lower the percentage, the harder (in theory) the play was. To be slightly more complicated, Catch Probability is a combination the ball’s hang time and the distance covered by a defensive player. It’s not a perfect stat, since outfielders who are faster will be able to cover more distance and those who have excellent positioning might not have to travel as far to catch otherwise difficult catches. But forget all that, because here’s a catch that will almost never get made.
Carlos Gomez of the Colorado Rockies gets a great first step on this opposite field liner by Chicago’s Javy Baez before making a diving catch to record the out. While he didn’t have to travel an insane distance, the ball was only in the air for roughly two seconds, meaning that Statcast assigned it a catch rate of just five percent. Pretty incredible!
Just for fun, here’s another incredible catch by Billy Hamilton, which was measured at a seven percent catch probability.
Catch probability: 5%.
— #Statcast (@statcast) May 9, 2017
8. Odubal Herrera Goes Golfing
Hitting a home run isn’t as easy as some people make it look. It takes a smooth swing, immaculate timing, and tremendous power. On top of all that, you still have to get a decent pitch to hit. Even the hottest hitters in the show will end up tapping weak grounders to the infield if they make a habit of swinging at sliders in the dirt.
Unless you’re Odubel Herrera.
In a game against the Braves in Atlanta, the Phillies outfielder digs out this 74 mph Julio Terheran offering and deposits it squarely in the seats of Sun Trust Park. Even more remarkable is that Statcast puts the ball at just 0.73 feet off the ground when Herrera makes contact. That’s less than nine inches! That’s basically a golf swing, and Hererra just hit a hole-in-one.
— #Statcast (@statcast) August 9, 2017
7. Chapman Delivers The Heat
This will be no surprise to baseball fans, but Aroldis Chapman is the clear champion when it comes to the hardest pitches thrown in MLB in 2017. In fact, he dominates the leaderboard so much that Statcast introduced a “Chapman Filter” so people could see the results without the Yankee closer clogging up the table. Nevertheless, this list in for incredible feats of baseball ability, and Chapman’s ability to throw a four-seam fastball 103.5 mph against Evan Longoria back in July is the hardest thrown pitch of 2017.
Chapman actually owns the 18 fasted pitches this season, before Red Sox righty Joe Kelly breaks up the party with a 102.2 mph fastball of his own. Of the top 50 fastest pitches in baseball, only 10 don’t belong to Chapman. He hasn’t been quite as invincible on the mound in the second half of the season, as his ERA and WHIP slowly rose as the reason wore on. But he sure does throw hard.
— #Statcast (@statcast) July 30, 2017
6. Shortest Home Run Ever?
Statcast is great for allowing us to ogle the eye-popping home runs of guys like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Nelson Cruz, all of whom routinely crush the mall deep into the stands. However, the beauty of Statcast is also that it allows us to celebrate the oddities of baseball, like this tiny dinger by Lorenzo Cain that just barely sliced inside Pesky’s Pole at Fenway Park back in July.
As you can see from the video, Cain’s shot had just a 90.4 mph exit velocity and a pretty high 39 degree launch angle. In any other ballpark, those numbers would combine for a routine flyout. Fenway is special though, and Cain managed to sock a three-run homer with a considerable weak (relatively speaking) swing of the bat.
They all count the same!
— #Statcast (@statcast) July 30, 2017
5. Aaron Judge’s HR Derby Smash
From the shortest home run, to the longest home run. We know that hitting a measly batting practice pitch isn’t as impressive as uncorking on a 98 mph heater from a big league pitcher, but we felt it would be an insult to not include this ridiculous Aaron Judge blast from the 2017 Home Run Derby. The ball traveled 513 feet! Altogether, Judge hit almost four miles worth of dingers on his way to his first Home Run Derby title.
We hope that Judge will come back and defend his title in the years to come, but we’re also worried that his post-All-Star Game slide will cause him to turn down future Derbies. As for how far Judge can hit a real pitch in a real Major League game, well, just keep reading.
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) July 13, 2017
4. Home Run Derby Totals
Speaking of the Home Run Derby, here’s a GIF that was just too awesome to not include on this list. It’s an animated model of every single ball sailed over the fence during the Derby at Marlins Park, and it’s mesmerizingly cool. As you can see in the tweet, the eight competitors (Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, Mike Moustakas, Miguel Sano, Justin Bour, Cody Bellinger, and Charlie Blackmon) combined to mash an amazing 15.7 miles of home run distance. That’s 82,986 feet of dinger!
By the time Judge was declared the winner, he had smoked 47 homers. The other finalist, Sano, managed to hit 32, while Gary Sanchez hit 27. So many bombs!
— Daren Willman (@darenw) July 11, 2017
3. Barrels by Position
What’s this? Another awesome Statcast that shows how ridiculous Aaron Judge has been in 2017? What a surprise!
First, let’s start with the definition of a “Barreled Ball.” In layman’s terms, it’s when a batter really connects with the sweet spot of the bat. For science geeks, it’s a bit more complicated. A Barrel is defined as any ball struck with a combined launch angle and exit velocity to create a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage. If you’re struggling to picture what that means, here’s a handy chart from MLB.com to illustrate:
Now that we have the definition out of the way, let’s talk about who is barreling up the most balls in the big leagues this year. Here’s an awesome chart that breaks it down by position. You can see that when the tweet was made, Nelson Cruz was leading the way for designated hitters and Justin Smoak was the surprise leader at first base. Perennial masher Khris Davis was off to an impressive start, but (once again) Judge is out there crushing everyone with a considerably higher amount of barreled balls than anyone else.
Barrels broken down by position…. Aaron Judge ??? pic.twitter.com/oGOqnnWF4g
— Daren Willman (@darenw) July 8, 2017
2. This 123-Foot Sprinting Catch
This grab doesn’t have quite the same unlikely Catch Probability as the 5-percent catch from earlier in this list, but it’s still pretty impressive. The 123-foot dead sprint by Detroit Tigers outfielder Mikie Mahtook settles in with a Catch Probability around 7 or 8-percent, which was more than enough to impress Justin Verlander on the mound.
Mahtook had to range all the way back to the warning track before crashing into the wall in order to make this unbelievable over-the-shoulder catch. He may not be mentioned in the same breath as other defensively strong center fielders like Kevin Pillar, Ender Inciarte, or Kevin Keirmair, it’s clear that Mahtook has the ability to wow fans (and save extra bases) with his glove.
— #Statcast (@statcast) June 28, 2017
1. All Rise – 495 Feet of Dinger
Natually, we end things with Aaron Judge. We’ve already talked about his mammoth Home Run Derby blasts and his incredible knack for barreling up baseballs and smashing them into all corners of the ballpark. But no list of awesome Statcast numbers would be complete without the longest home run of the 2017 season.
On June 11, Judge smashed this 85 mph changeup from Baltimore pitcher Logan Verrett deep into the stands of left-center field of Yankee Stadium. Not only was it the longest homerun of 2017, it was also the longest homerun by an American League player since the technology was introduced. Judge’s teammate Gary Sanchez is second on the 2017 HR distance leaderboard, smoking a ball in August that traveled just two-feet shorter than Judge’s record 495-feet blast.
— #Statcast (@statcast) June 11, 2017