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5 Statcast storylines for '17 Rockies

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™ storylines to know about the Rockies heading into the season.
1. Break out the tape measure
Nobody went deeper in 2016 than Carlos Gonzalez, whose 24 tracked home runs averaged a projected distance of 427 feet. Of course, Coors Field may have played a role, as Gonzalez averaged 431 feet on 17 tracked homers at his home park. Behind Gonzalez in third place was teammate Trevor Story with an average projected distance of 422 feet.
Longest average homer distance (minimum 20 tracked homers)
1. Gonzalez: 427 feet

  1. Giancarlo Stanton: 422 feet
    3. Story: 422 feet
  2. Nelson Cruz: 416 feet
  3. Mitch Moreland: 414 feet

Most home runs of 450-plus feet
1. Gonzalez: 6

  1. (tie) Jose Cabrera: 4
  2. (tie) Stanton: 4
    Six players tied with 3

2. Flame thrower
Jon Gray still has a bit to learn before he graduates to an elite big league pitcher, but there's no denying that Gray's right arm has elite-level power. Among the starting pitchers who threw at least 1,000 four-seam fastballs in 2016, Gray ranked right near the top of the list in terms of average velocity.
Highest average velocity on four-seam fastballs in 2016 (minimum 1,000 four-seamers thrown)

  1. Noah Syndergaard: 98.2 mph
  2. James Paxton: 96.8 mph
  3. Jose Fernandez: 95.9 mph
  4. Mike Foltynewicz: 95.8 mph
    5. (tie) Gray: 95.7 mph
  5. (tie) Danny Salazar: 95.7 mph
  6. (tie) Kevin Gausman: 95.6 mph
  7. (tie) Stephen Strasburg: 95.6 mph
    3. Inside man
    Nolan Arenado has hit the third-most homers in the Majors over the past two seasons (83), and nearly one-third of those (27) have come on pitches Statcast™ has pegged as out of the strike zone. That is easily the most in MLB over that span, with the vast majority being pitches off the plate inside.
    Most out-of-zone homers in 2015-16
    1. Arenado: 27
  8. Evan Gattis: 20
  9. (tie) Anthony Rizzo: 17
  10. (tie) Cruz: 17
  11. (tie) Rougned Odor: 16
  12. (tie) James Dozier: 16

4. Four-star generals
Charlie Blackmon and Ian Desmond were solid in converting some challenging catch opportunities in 2016. While they didn't make the most extremely challenging plays -- each made one 5-star play, which have catch probabilities of 25 percent or less -- they were impressive in Statcast™'s next-most-difficult range, 4-star plays.
Desmond, who will shift to first base when he returns from his fractured hand, recorded outs on 14-of-19 4-star plays -- which have catch probabilities between 26 and 50 percent -- a 73.7 percent rate that was seventh-highest in MLB among outfielders with at least 50 total catch opportunities. Directly behind him was Blackmon, who converted 11-of-15 4-star catches, or 73.3 percent.
Highest percentage of 4-star catches made in 2016 (minimum 50 total catch opportunities)

  1. Steven Souza Jr.: 91.7 percent (11 of 12)
  2. Jarrod Dyson: 88.9 percent (8 of 9)
  3. Kevin Kiermaier: 87.5 percent (14 of 16)
  4. Jake Marisnick: 80 percent (12 of 15)
  5. (tie) Billy Hamilton: 75 percent (15 of 20)
  6. (tie) Desmond Jennings: 75 percent (9 of 12)
    7. Desmond: 73.7 percent (14 of 19)
    8. Blackmon: 73.3 percent (11 of 15)
  7. Joey Rickard: 69.2 percent (9 of 13)
  8. Keon Broxton: 66.7 percent (4 of 6)
    5. Patience pays off
    DJ LeMahieu was one of baseball's most patient hitters last season en route to his first batting crown. The second baseman whiffed on only 4.9 percent of pitches outside the strike zone in 2016, tied with other players for the lowest rate in the big leagues.
    Lowest whiff rate on out-of-zone pitches among MLB hitters in 2016 (minimum 1,000 pitches)
    1. (tie) LeMahieu: 4.9 percent
  9. (tie) Nick Markakis: 4.9 percent
  10. (tie) Angel Pagan: 4.9 percent
  11. (tie) Jose Ramirez: 4.9 percent
  12. (tie) Benjamin Zobrist: 4.9 percent
  13. (tie) Joe Panik: 5.2 percent
  14. (tie) Dustin Pedroia: 5.2 percent

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.