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5 Statcast storylines for '17 Indians

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 10 Statcast™ facts to know about the Indians heading into the 2017 season.
1. Edwin's thump 
In the Statcast™ Era (2015-present), Edwin Encarnacion has hit 52 home runs with a projected distance of 400 feet or more, the third most in the Majors. Encarnacion's farthest? A 471-foot drive last July, the big leagues' ninth-longest homer of 2016. Encarnacion's walk-off homer in last year's American League Wild Card Game traveled a Statcast-projected 440 feet, the second longest of the postseason. And Encarnacion has 94 barrels since 2015, tied for ninth most in MLB.
Most home runs of at least 400 feet since 2015 (including postseason)

  1. Nelson Cruz: 60
  2. Nolan Arenado: 56
  3. Edwin Encarnacion: 52
  4. Khris Davis: 51
  5. Yoenis Cespedes: 50
    2. A devastating secondary pitch
    Relief ace Andrew Miller struck out 44.7 percent of the batters he faced in 2016, the most of any pitcher in MLB who threw 50 or more innings. The key was his outstanding slider, which caused whiffs 25.9 percent of the time, the second-highest rate in the big leagues (minimum 500 breaking balls). Miller threw sliders with 59.8 percent of his pitches last season, per Statcast™, compared to fastballs 39.1 percent of the time. That represented the highest breaking-ball usage of anyone with at least 1,000 pitches thrown.

Highest breaking ball usage in 2016 (minimum 1,000 pitches; includes curveballs and sliders)

  1. Andrew Miller: 59.8 percent
  2. Joshua Smith: 57.5 percent
  3. Joe Blanton: 57 percent
  4. Dellin Betances: 55.3 percent
  5. Rich Hill: 50.9 percent
    3. Kluber's hook, Salazar's change
    Corey Kluber's breaking ball and Danny Salazar's changeup are among the best secondary pitches in the game. In 2016, Kluber allowed the second-lowest exit velocity on breaking balls (minimum 100 batted balls): 83 mph, per Statcast™.

Lowest exit velocity allowed on breaking balls in 2016 (minimum 100 batted balls)

  1. Collin McHugh: 81.4 mph
  2. Corey Kluber: 83 mph
  3. Max Scherzer: 83.7 mph
  4. (tie) Ricky Nolasco: 84.4 mph
  5. (tie) Kenta Maeda: 84.4 mph
    Salazar, meanwhile, has held opponents to a .142 batting average since 2015 when throwing his changeup, with a 25.8 percent swinging-strike rate -- both the second-best marks among MLB starters (minimum 100 at-bats and 500 changeups). His 174 strikeouts on changeups are the most in the Majors.

Most strikeouts on changeups since 2015

  1. Danny Salazar: 174
  2. Kyle Hendricks: 154
  3. Matthew Shoemaker: 143
  4. Marco Estrada: 141
  5. David Price: 127
    4. Power boost
    The switch-hitting Carlos Santana surged from 19 homers in 2015 to 34 last season, largely due to his left-handed swing. Santana's left side has always been his power side, and he hit 30 while swinging lefty in 2016 -- double the 15 he hit in 2015. How'd he do it? For one thing, his average left-handed exit velocity increased from 88.3 to 91.2, per Statcast™, the third-largest jump in the Majors.

Largest increase in exit velocity for left-handed hitters in 2015-16 (includes switch-hitters batting left-handed)

  1. Kole Calhoun: 3.4 mph (86.2 to 89.6)
  2. Victor Martinez: 3.2 mph (87.5 to 90.7)
  3. Carlos Santana: 2.9 mph (88.3 to 91.2)
  4. Nick Markakis: 2.3 mph (88.3 to 90.6)
  5. A.J. Pierzynski: 2.3 mph (85.3 to 87.6)
    5. Pronounced splits
    Cody Allen had 32 saves, a 2.51 ERA and 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings last year, thanks to his knuckle-curveball. Through the Indians' postseason run, he allowed just a .112 batting average and a .159 slugging percentage on curveballs -- ranking fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Majors (minimum 100 at-bats).
    When Allen ran into trouble, it was often with his fastball, although it was effective overall, averaging 94.9 mph and a 2,517 rpm spin rate that was fifth-highest in MLB (minimum 500 four-seamers). Still, Allen's home runs allowed jumped from two to eight in '16, and seven were on fastballs. Exit velocity against his fastball increased from 89.6 mph to 94.2 mph, the highest exit velocity of any pitcher with 100-plus batted balls on fastballs.

Highest exit velocity allowed on fastballs in 2016 (minimum 100 batted balls; includes postseason, four-seamers, two-seamers, sinkers and cutters)

  1. Cody Allen: 94.2 mph
  2. Paul Clemens: 94 mph
  3. Brad Ziegler: 93.9 mph
  4. Kevin Jepsen: 93.8 mph
  5. Danny Salazar: 93.5 mph

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