Nailed at the plate: Here are the 10 fastest outfield throws to catch a runner at home this season
When we think of velocity, we usually picture pitchers like Aroldis Chapman rearing back and firing lightning bolts past batters. We rarely think of putting a radar gun on outfielders, even if everyone remembers the image of Bo Jackson shot-putting baseballs from the outfield.
Today we look to change that. This is your list of the 10 fastest throws from the outfield that nailed a runner at home plate this season, as measured by the god calculator, Statcast™.
As an appetizer, please enjoy the fastest throw to the plate that didn't result in an out: Michael Taylor's 102.4 mph toss. Given that Taylor also had the second-longest home run of 2015, it looks like he's primed to have quite the career.
And if the velocities listed seem a little bit high, keep in mind that outfielders have the benefit of a crow hop -- so they're throwing a bit faster than they could from a mound. Exhibit A: Former top-10 Draft pick Casey Weathers:
Now then, on to the real list.
10. Carlos Gonzalez - 97.4 mph
On the same day that Gonzalez crushed two home runs for the Rockies, he also threw out a runner at the plate with such an easy motion it seemed more like a friendly game of catch in the backyard ... if your games of catch involve standing some 200-feet away from each other. Or, as Statcast™ measured, 250.25 feet away.
9. Aaron Hicks - 98.0 mph
Shockingly for Hicks, he manages to get this one up to 98 mph with only the slightest of crow hops, rather than the full body run and leap that we expect from throws like this.
It was fast enough that Dusty Coleman didn't even bother running all the way home. Guess you could say he closed his eyes and the moment was gone. Get it? Like Dust in the Wind, Dusty in the Wind? Ahh, forget you.
Given Hicks' seemingly nonchalant toss and Coleman's conflicted turn around third, without Statcast™, we'd probably assume it was a throw at a much lower velocity than it was.
8. Byron Buxton - 98.0 mph
In case you're curious just how granular Statcast™ can get -- Buxton's toss was actually just 0.023 mph faster than Hicks' throw to the plate.
Again, it's easy to forget both how fast that is and how hard it must be to pull that off. While a pitcher gets a full windup to get into the action, here Buxton has to field, struggle to corral the grounder and still make the strong toss to the plate.
7. Jason Heyward - 98.5 mph
In terms of sheer spectacle, little is more enjoyable than an outfielder grabbing a grounder and burning it home. You get this slow build up, the ball trickling through the infield, the batter hurrying around the bases, everyone jumping to their feet ... only to watch a laser beam to the plate to end the scoring opportunity. It's the baseball equivalent of the knockout punch.
6. Adam Jones - 98.9 mph
Of course, the inverse to that is the attempted sacrifice fly. Filled with a slow, tense build up, it plays out a little more like a horror film as you're screaming to the character, "No! Don't go into the basement!" In this scenario, Jones is in the basement. And Statcast™ is the found footage camera reporting it all back to us in exhilarating detail.
5. Leonys Martin - 99.5 mph
While Marwin Gonzalez probably felt pretty proud of himself for fighting off a tough low-and-inside pitch for what looked to be an RBI single, Martin wasn't having it. The center fielder hurled the ball hard enough that even two-time AL stolen base champ Jose Altuve could do nothing but sit down and accept the tag.
4. Dariel Alvarez - 99.5 mph
On Aug. 28, Alvarez made his Major League debut. One inning later, he showed off a cannon for an arm to catch Adrian Beltre roughly 18 feet away from home plate.
Not a bad debut.
3. Carlos Gomez - 100.2 mph
And here we've reached the triple-digit club. That mystical land of Nolan Ryan-like tosses from deep in the outfield that come in so hot the ball looks like it's on fire.
While the other throws on this list are mostly accurate, Gomez needed every bit of that speed as his toss came in and then rolled its way to the plate.
Just like Hicks' toss earlier on the list, this is another one that the human eye may underestimate, but that Statcast™ captures in glorious detail.
2. Kevin Kiermaier - 100.4 mph
Kiermaier was an absolute revelation in the outfield this season. On his way to collecting his first Gold Glove, Kiermaier made roughly 8,000 defensive highlights with an unreal 30.0 UZR on the season. So it only makes sense that not only would he be on the list with a 100 mph rocket. Shockingly, his also makes it to home in the air ... at chest level.
1. Carlos Gomez - 103.1 mph
Do you know how many pitches were thrown 103 mph or faster this year? Seven, and they were all thrown by Chapman.
So for a center fielder to hit that number, while throwing to the plate and getting the out is not the kind of thing you expect. Given how far Joe Mauer was from home plate, I don't think he was expecting it either.