Early Look At Statcast For The 2018 Season

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The development of Statcast has altered the way in which teams and fans can view the game of baseball. With in-depth information on components such as exit velocity off the bat, launch angle, and spin rate, we are now able to view players from both a scouting and statistical manner in convenient fashion.

Baseball has entered its’ fourth year of the Statcast era, which began publicly releasing information in 2015. Since that time, we have become accustomed to the usual culprits with eye-popping numbers, namely Giancarlo Stanton and his tape measure home runs and Aroldis Chapman‘s ridiculous throwing arm.

The 2018 season is just in its very early stages but there are plenty of numbers that have stood out over the first week of the season. Here are the noteworthy stories and numbers Statcast has provided us in the early beginnings of the season.

Shohei Ohtani is a Statcast Extraordinaire  

The most talked about player coming into 2018, Ohtani has posted elite numbers across the Statcast spectrum, which has come in three different elements: fastball velocity on the mound, exit velocity at the plate, and sprint speed.

In his first Major League Baseball start on the mound on Sunday, Ohtani provided an array of impressive numbers, which was documented by Statcast expert Mike Petriello. Ohtani’s average fastball velocity was 97.8 MPH and he generated an absurd amount of swing-and-misses on his splitter. Ohtani reached 99 MPH a dozen times on Sunday.

From Ohtani, to Stanton, back to the Angels, @statcast has some eye-popping numbers from the first week of MLB action.Click To Tweet

In his first three games at the plate, Ohtani hit .429/.429/.857 with a 280 wRC+. He homered in his first Angel Stadium at-bat on Tuesday and followed that up with a home run off reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber on Wednesday afternoon. Of his 11 batted balls so far, eight have been 95+ mph and seven have reached 100+ mph. His average exit velocity of 96.4 MPH is in elite territory. The quality of contact so far has been legitimate.

If that wasn’t enough, Ohtani’s speed has also approached elite territory. His 29.8 feet/second clocked on Wednesday puts him in the upper tier of players in baseball. Across the board, Ohtani has absolutely crushed it and lived up to the early hype.

Yep, Giancarlo Stanton Is Still Really Good

Stanton struck out five times and was booed in his home debut as a New York Yankee, but he’s hit the crud out of the ball so far. Stanton owns baseball’s two hardest hit balls, which both left the yard with distances of 458 feet and 426 feet. That 458-foot blast had an exit velocity of 117.9 MPH and was Stanton’s first home run at Yankee Stadium in a pinstripe uniform.

The Chicago White Sox Offense Is Raking

Petriello touched on this in the recent Statcast podcast, but the White Sox are surprisingly crushing baseballs so far. Through six games, they have put up 36 runs and the quality of contact has been fantastic.

Matt Davidson‘s three home runs on Opening Day had exit velocities of 115.1 MPH, 114 MPH, and 113.9 MPH. Avisail Garcia hit a mammoth 481-foot blast with a 116.7 MPH exit velocity. A combination of Davidson, Garcia, Jose Abreu, Yoan Moncada, and Tim Anderson have also recorded exit velocities of 114.4, 113.3, 112.8, 112.5, and 112.1 MPH.

Hitters Are Continuing to Hit For More Power

We’re one week into the 2018 season and there have already been a plethora of tape-measure home runs. Avisail Garcia’s 481-foot home run would’ve ranked as the ninth farthest home run last season. Marcell Ozuna‘s 479-foot home run would’ve placed him 12th last season. Stanton, Matt Adams, and Yangervis Solarte have each blasted home runs over 450 feet. Early returns show the power surge in baseball isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Jordan Hicks Has An Electric Arm

You’re forgiven if you’re unfamiliar with St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks. The 21-year-old Hicks made his MLB debut a little over a week ago and has been nothing short of electric. He has clocked the four fastest pitches of 2018 so far (101.6, 101, and 100.9 MPH twice). He has 10 pitches that have reached 99.7 mph or above in three appearances.

His fastball is unique given it’s a two-seam/sinker with crazy run and a low spin rate. This means less strikeouts and more grounders, which Hicks has become accustomed to in his professional career. The pitch is clearly a big weapon, despite the lack of swing-and-misses, and makes him a fascinating reliever to follow.

The Los Angeles Angels Pitching Staff Throws Really Hard

Unlike the last few seasons, the Angels staff has some gunslingers throwing some really hard fastballs. The aforementioned Ohtani has one of the best fastballs in baseball. Garrett Richards has averaged 96.4 MPH on his fastball through two starts. Relievers Keynan Middleton (96.7 MPH) and Blake Wood (95.3 MPH) have two of the harder fastballs thrown by relief pitchers so far.

This is a stark difference from recent Angels pitchers. In 2017, Angels pitchers had a 92.8 MPH average fastball velocity that ranked 15th in baseball. In 2016, they ranked 29th with a 90.7 MPH average fastball (partially due to Jered Weaver‘s 83 MPH “fastball”). This year, they rank fourth with an average 93.6 MPH fastball. This is encouraging for a pitching staff that had huge question marks entering the season.

 

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