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5 Statcast storylines for '17 White Sox

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 White Sox heading into the 2017 season.
1. One tough two-seamer
Jose Quintana has been a workhorse for the White Sox for the last four years, and now he's the ace on the South Side. Although he does strike out his share of opposing batters, he's not the K machine Chris Sale was. But that doesn't stop Quintana from attacking hitters. Take his two-seam fastball, a pitch that's hard to hit and hard to punish for extra bases. Per Statcast™, the left-hander held opponents to a .228 batting average and .335 slugging percentage on two-seamers in 2016, the fourth- and fifth-lowest marks in MLB, respectively (minimum 500 two-seamers).
Lowest slugging percentage against sinkers/two-seamers in 2016 (minimum 500 thrown)

  1. Zach Britton: .196
  2. Jeurys Familia: .301
  3. Jacob Arrieta: .302
  4. Jeremy Jeffress: .331
  5. Jose Quintana: .335
    2. Abreu's wheelhouse
    Jose Abreu burst onto the scene in 2014 by winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award after coming to the Major Leagues from Cuba, and he's been a power-hitting stalwart for the White Sox since. He's averaged just over 30 home runs a year as a big leaguer, and he's proven he can crush the low pitch. Since 2015, on pitches Statcast™ tracked in the lower third of the strike zone, Abreu has averaged a 96.8-mph exit velocity, fourth highest in the Majors (minimum 200 balls in play). He has hit .379 and slugged .667 on those pitches.

Highest average exit velocity in lower third of strike zone in 2015-16 (minimum 200 balls in play)

  1. Jose Cabrera: 100.2 mph
  2. Michael Trout: 98.3 mph
  3. David Ortiz: 97.4 mph
  4. Jose Abreu: 96.8 mph
  5. Carlos Gonzalez: 96.6 mph
    3. An inherited cutter
    Player Page for David Robertson, once groomed as Mariano Rivera's successor in New York, naturally relied heavily on his cut fastball last season. The White Sox closer threw his cutter 60.5 percent of the time, the fifth-highest rate in MLB. The pitch offers both high velocity and high spin. Of 59 pitchers to throw 200-plus cutters last season, Robertson had the fifth-highest average velocity (92 mph) and sixth-highest spin rate (2,530 rpm), beneficial for a cutter.

Highest cutter spin rate in 2016 (minimum 200 cutters)

  1. Tyler Chatwood: 2,623 rpm
  2. Josh Tomlin: 2,611 rpm
  3. Wade Davis: 2,597 rpm
  4. Kenley Jansen: 2,582 rpm
  5. Jacob Peavy: 2,574 rpm
  6. David Robertson: 2,530 rpm
  7. Collin McHugh: 2,520 rpm
  8. Luke Hochevar: 2,497 rpm
  9. Jeff Samardzija: 2,490 rpm
  10. Tony Barnette: 2,485 rpm
    4. A high-impact sinker-slider combo
    Nate Jones' funky motion might grab people's attention, but so should his sinker-slider one-two punch. The right-handed setup man's two-seam fastball lights up the radar gun; it averaged 97.1 mph in 2016, according to Statcast™, just behind Zach Britton for third among pitchers who threw 500-plus two-seamers/sinkers. Jones couples that with a slider against which opponents hit just .096, the second-lowest batting average in MLB (minimum 100 at-bats), and slugged a Major League-low .135. That's how you get a 2.29 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Highest average two-seamer velocity in 2016 (minimum 500 thrown)

  1. Noah Syndergaard: 98.1 mph
  2. Zach Britton: 97.1 mph
  3. Nate Jones: 97.1 mph
  4. Yordano Ventura: 96.8 mph
  5. Jeurys Familia: 96.4 mph
    5. Lofty drives
    Todd Frazier had his first 40-homer season last year, and he has 75 dingers over the past two, tied for sixth most of any hitter. He does it by hitting them high and watching them go -- Frazier's 17.3-degree average launch angle in the Statcast™ Era (2015-16) is the seventh highest in the big leagues. Of all his batted balls in that time frame, 65.5 percent went in the air, the second most among hitters with at least 600 balls in play, behind Ian Kinsler's 66 percent.

Highest average launch angle in 2015-16 (minimum 600 balls in play)

  1. Kristopher Bryant: 19.5 degrees
  2. Brandon Belt: 18.3 degrees
  3. Chris Davis: 18.1 degrees
  4. Ian Kinsler: 17.8 degrees
  5. Matt Carpenter: 17.7 degrees
  6. Curtis Granderson: 17.6 degrees
  7. Todd Frazier: 17.3 degrees
  8. Nick Castellanos: 17.0 degrees
  9. Stephen Vogt: 16.9 degrees
  10. Anthony Rizzo: 16.6 degrees

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.