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5 Statcast storylines for '17 Reds

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 Reds heading into the 2017 season.
1. Votto-matic
You know Joey Votto is one of the best hitters in the world. He has been for years. He's so good that even after finding himself batting .213 at the end of last May, he promptly slashed .378/.482/.619 over the final four months and ended up leading the National League with a .424 wOBA. And, unsurprisingly, Statcast™'s new Hit Probability metric, based on a hitter's combinations of exit velocity and launch angle, ranks Votto just as highly. He does take a slight dock in his expected wOBA, which Statcast™ estimated at .413 for 2016, but guess what? It was still the best expected wOBA in the league.
Highest estimated wOBA for NL hitters, 2016
1. Votto: .413 (actual wOBA -- .424)

  1. Freddie Freeman: .408 (actual wOBA -- .413)
  2. Daniel Murphy: .402 (actual wOBA -- 418)
  3. Matt Carpenter: .397 (actual wOBA -- .380)
  4. DJ LeMahieu: .391 (actual wOBA -- .394)
    2. Billy Hamilton, an outfielder like no other
    Hamilton uses his amazing speed in center field to make even more amazing catches. In 2016, he made nine plays that Statcast™'s Catch Probability classified as 5-star catches -- that is, they had a catch probability of 25 percent or less -- and he converted 37.5 percent of his 5-star chances, turning the unlikeliest of plays into outs at the highest rate in baseball. And in 2015? Hamilton led the Majors in both overall 5-star catches, with 14, and 5-star catch rate, making the play on 43.8 percent of his chances.

Highest percentage of 5-star catches made, 2016 (min. 50 total chances/20 5-star chances)
1. Hamilton: 37.5 percent (9 of 24)

  1. Travis Jankowski: 35.7 percent (5 of 14)
  2. Kevin Kiermaier: 30 percent (3 of 10)
  3. Adam Eaton: 27 percent (10 of 37)
  4. Rajai Davis: 25 percent (3 of 12)
    3. Hamilton, a baserunner like no other
    The same blazing speed that produces Hamilton's highlight-reel catches is, of course, equally impressive on the basepaths. Not only has Hamilton stolen more than 50 bases in each of the last three seasons, his Statcast-tracked times blow away the rest of baseball. Pick a baserunning metric, any baserunning metric -- chances are, Hamilton owns the Statcast™ Era record time. Heck, he once stole second base with a 6.7-foot lead. Against a left-hander. Poor Robbie Ray.
    Hamilton baserunning records in Statcast™ Era (2015-16)
    Home to first, non-bunt: 3.61 seconds
    Home to second: 7.28 seconds
    Home to third: 10.45 seconds
    First to third: 5.24 seconds
    First to home: 8.23 seconds

4. Zack Cozart's not-exactly-rocket arm
Cozart has actually graded out as an above-average shortstop by advanced defensive metrics -- in 2016, for example, his 14.6 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games was fourth-best among shortstops. But one area that Statcast™ shows he wasn't as effective was his arm strength. In fact, of the 26 Major League shortstops that had at least 10 tracked "competitive" throws to first base -- that is, throws at or above their 90th percentile, which weeds out the easy lobs -- Cozart's average arm strength of 77.8 mph ranked dead last.

Lowest average competitive arm strength to 1B among SS in 2016 (minimum 10 throws)
1. Cozart: 77.8 mph

  1. Adeiny Hechavarria: 80.3 mph
  2. Marcus Semien: 80.4 mph
  3. Erick Aybar: 81 mph
  4. Francisco Lindor: 81.1 mph
    Highest average competitive arm strength: Danny Espinosa (89.9 mph)
    5. Give Adam Duvall a break
    Duvall was essentially a boom-or-bust hitter in his first full Major League season -- he slugged 33 home runs, but struck out 164 times and walked just 41 times, resulting in a .241 average and .297 on-base percentage. A good example is how he handled breaking pitches. On the one hand, Duvall hit .246 against curves and sliders, per Statcast™, with 58 strikeouts in 167 at-bats. On the other, he homered 16 times off breaking balls, the most in the Majors.
    Most home runs off breaking balls
    in 2016
    1. Duvall: 16
  5. Trevor Story: 15
    3 .(tie) Chris Carter: 13
  6. (tie) Nelson Cruz: 13
  7. Khris Davis: 12
    *Curveballs and sliders

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