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5 Statcast storylines for '17 Braves

March 31, 2017

As the 2017 season begins, so does the third season of Statcast™, the state-of-the-art technology that has tracked every play in every Major League ballpark since Opening Day 2015. And with two full seasons of data now collected, plus advances in applying that data, Statcast™ is better than ever. New

As the 2017 season begins, so does the third season of Statcast™, the state-of-the-art technology that has tracked every play in every Major League ballpark since Opening Day 2015. And with two full seasons of data now collected, plus advances in applying that data, Statcast™ is better than ever. New metrics, such as Catch Probability and Hit Probability, will provide a deeper layer of analysis and further our understanding of the game.
With that in mind, here are five Statcast™ facts to know about the Braves heading into the 2017 season.
1. COVERING GROUND
In his first season with the Braves, Ender Inciarte showed off his defensive chops in center field, tying for the Major League lead with 10 catches that Statcast™ classified as 5-star plays. That's the most difficult classification on the 1-to-5 scale, representing catches made 25 percent of the time or less. The star system is based on Catch Probability, which factors in the distance the outfielder has to travel and how much time he has to do so.
Most 5-star catches made in 2016
1-T. Inciarte: 10
1-T. Adam Eaton: 10

  1. Billy Hamilton: 9
  2. Jake Marisnick: 8
    5-T. Peter Bourjos: 7
    5-T. Lorenzo Cain: 7
    5-T. Kevin Pillar: 7
    2. BASERUNNERS BEWARE
    Inciarte's National League Gold Glove Award was based on more than just his range. He also led the Majors by recording 13 outfield assists -- out of his total of 14 -- that featured throws clocked at 90 mph or harder.
    Most outfield assists of 90+ mph in 2016
    1. Inciarte: 13
    2-T. Eaton: 12
    2-T. Eddie Rosario: 12
    4-T. Leonys Martin: 10
    4-T. Starling Marte: 10
    3. HANDLING SOUTHPAWS
    Freddie Freeman crushed right-handed pitchers last season (.303/.405/.596), and he had no problem handling lefties, either (.301/.389/.513). That gave him the second-highest OPS, behind Daniel Murphy, for a left-handed batter with at least 150 plate appearances against lefty pitching. Such success was backed up by Freeman's 18 barrels off southpaws, which led all same-side hitters.
    Most barrels by LHB vs. LHP in 2016
    1. Freeman: 18
  3. Brandon Belt: 17
  4. Kyle Seager: 16
  5. Chris Davis: 13
  6. Eric Hosmer: 12
    4. SPEED UP, SLOW DOWN
    The Braves' staff now features two pitchers on completely opposite ends of the velocity spectrum. On one side there is 23-year-old reliever Mauricio Cabrera, who averaged 100.5 mph with his four-seam fastball in his debut season. On the other side, there is 42-year-old knuckleball artist R.A. Dickey, a free-agent acquisition whose occasional four-seamer averaged only 82.8 mph for Toronto.
    Highest average 4-seam fastball velocity in 2016
    Minimum 300 thrown
  7. Albertin Chapman: 100.9 mph
    2. Cabrera: 100.5 mph
  8. Brian Ellington: 98.6 mph
  9. Noah Syndergaard: 98.2 mph
  10. Dellin Betances: 98.1 mph
    Lowest average 4-seam fastball velocity in 2016
    Minimum 300 thrown
    1. Dickey: 82.8 mph
  11. Steven Wright: 83.6 mph
  12. Jered Weaver: 84.3 mph
  13. Koji Uehara: 87.3 mph
  14. Doug Fister: 87.4 mph
    5. FOUR-BAGGER
    Last Sept. 6 at Washington, Dansby Swanson drilled a deep fly ball to center field off Giovany Gonzalez, just missing his first career home run. But with the ball caroming off the wall and back toward the infield, Swanson saw an opportunity and kept his foot on the gas. As a result he got his first career homer anyway, beating the throw with a home-to-home time of just under 15 seconds. That was the second fastest on any homer in 2016.
    Fastest HR* "trots," 2016
    *All inside-the-park HRs
  15. Byron Buxton: 14.05 seconds
    2. Swanson: 14.97 seconds
  16. Eduardo Nunez: 15.23 seconds
  17. Jean Segura: 15.36 seconds
  18. Brett Lawrie: 15.65 seconds

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.