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 Orioles heading into the 2017 season.
1. Two-seam terror
There's little mystery about Zach Britton's plan of attack, but that doesn't make him any easier to hit. During his dominant 2016 campaign, Baltimore's closer threw his two-seam fastball about 91 percent of the time, easily the highest rate in MLB. He can get away with that because of the pitch's superb combination of movement and velocity (97.1 mph). When hitters swung, they missed 36.5 percent of the time, a rate unmatched by any other pitcher's two-seamer/sinker. When they put the ball in play, they hit it on the ground more than 80 percent of the time -- also MLB's highest mark. Put the whiffs and grounders together and you have a pitch that opponents slugged less than .200 against.
Lowest opponent SLG% against two-seamers/sinkers, 2016
Minimum 100 AB ending with that pitch
1. Britton: .196
- Jeurys Familia: .301
- Jacob Arrieta: .302
- Jeremy Jeffress: .331
- Anibal Sanchez: .333
2. Triple-digit teammates
It's an obvious point, but hitting the ball with an exit velocity of 100 mph or harder is a great way to do damage. The league as a whole posted a .629 batting average and a 1.319 slugging percentage on such balls last season, and two of the most prolific practitioners of the triple-digit exit velocity were Orioles. Manny Machado cranked out 165 batted balls of 100-plus mph, ranking fourth in MLB. Mark Trumbo, whose 93.9-mph average exit velocity was among the game's best, came in just behind Machado with 162.
Most balls in play at 100-plus mph, 2016
- Jose Cabrera: 195
- Nelson Cruz: 179
- Robinson Cano: 166
4. Machado: 165
- Trumbo: 162
Video: USA@DOM: Statcast™ tracks Machado's 435-foot home run
3. Aim for the stars
Success at the plate isn't just about exit velocity, of course. Launch angle also matters, as lifting the ball for a line drive or fly ball creates more opportunities for damage. For all of his struggles to make contact, Chris Davis is one of baseball's best at generating high launch angles. In fact, he has the third-highest average of the Statcast™ Era (2015-16).
Highest average launch angle, Statcast™ EraMinimum 600 batted balls
- Kristopher Bryant: 19.5 degrees
- Brandon Belt: 18.3 degrees
3. Davis: 18.1 degrees
- Ian Kinsler: 17.8 degrees
- Matt Carpenter: 17.7 degrees
4. In the shallow end
Advanced defensive metrics haven't always given Adam Jones high marks over the years, and certainly not in 2016 (-10 in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating). Might some of that be positioning, a factor that can have a significant effect on results? Jones started plays an average of about 307 feet from home plate, the shallowest out of 31 players who spent at least 9,000 pitches at the position. (Ian Desmond was the deepest, at 329 feet). Playing shallower can lead to more balls over an outfielder's head and, therefore, more extra-base hits allowed. It's also worth noting that when Jones made his incredible homer-saving catch on Machado in this year's World Baseball Classic, he started the play 321 feet from home at Petco Park.
Shallowest average CF starting distance, 2016
Minimum 9,000 pitches at position
1. Jones: 307 ft
- Andrew McCutchen: 307 ft
- Ben Revere: 307 ft
- Denard Span: 307 ft
- Billy Burns: 309 ft
5. Give me spin
It was a promising 2016 for Dylan Bundy, who finally stayed healthy and stuck in Baltimore for 109 2/3 innings, including 14 starts. Bundy used his nearly 95-mph four-seam fastball about 60 percent of the time, and the pitch exhibited an impressive spin rate of 2,489 rpm. That was the fourth-highest average out of 97 pitchers who had at least 750 four-seamers tracked, up near the likes of Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. The numbers show that Bundy was at his best when he got the most spin on that pitch.
Bundy four-seam spin breakdown, 2016
<2,450>rpm (396 pitches): .295 BA, .432 SLG, 16.6 percent whiff rate
2,450-2,550 (381 pitches): .306 BA, .583 SLG, 18.2 percent whiff rate
>2,550 rpm (389 pitches): .229 BA, .349 SLG, 22.4 percent whiff rate
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.