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5 Statcast storylines for '17 Brewers

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 Brewers heading into the 2017 season.
1. Villar's quick feet
Last season, Jonathan Villar made the trade that brought him to Milwaukee for Minor Leaguer Cy Sneed look like robbery. He hit .285/.369/.457 with 19 home runs and an MLB-best 62 steals. Villar got excellent jumps; his 22.8-foot average secondary lead on steals of second base ranked fifth in the Majors, per Statcast™. That was a foot and a half more than the MLB average lead on such steals in 2016. The secondary lead is defined as the runner's largest lead prior to the pitcher releasing the ball.

Largest average secondary lead on steals of second base in 2016 (minimum 20 steals)

  1. William Myers: 23.4 feet
  2. Odubel Herrera: 23.2 feet
  3. Mookie Betts: 23 feet
  4. Paul Goldschmidt: 22.9 feet
  5. Jonathan Villar: 22.8 feet
    2. Villar's strong arm
    On the other side of the ball, Villar played all over the infield last year. Though he's expected to slot in at second base in the upcoming season, shortstop was his primary position in 2016, and while there, the 25-year-old showed off plenty of arm to handle it. Villar's average "competitive" throw -- 90th percentile and higher -- was clocked at 88.2 mph. That ranked third of 31 shortstops with at least 150 Statcast-tracked throws.

Highest average competitive arm strength by shortstops (minimum 150 throws)

  1. Danny Espinosa: 90.7 mph
  2. Didi Gregorius: 88.3 mph
  3. Jonathan Villar: 88.2 mph
  4. Carlos Correa: 87.5 mph
  5. Brandon Crawford: 86.5 mph
    3. Still the Hebrew Hammer
    Ryan Braun looked like his old self last season, hitting .305/.365/.538 with 30 homers -- good for 4.4 WAR, his best season since he finished second in voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2012. The 33-year-old feasted on the inside pitch. On pitches Statcast™ tracked as reaching the inner third of the strike zone, Braun's 97.4 mph average exit velocity ranked third in the Majors. He hit .394 and slugged .745 against those pitches. It was also a mistake to go after him with fastballs; Braun hit .342 and slugged .664 against four-seamers, both ninth best in MLB (minimum 150 at-bats), with 13 homers against them.

Highest average exit velocity on pitches in inner third of zone in 2016 (minimum 50 balls in play)

  1. Khris Davis: 98.5 mph
  2. Mark Trumbo: 97.5 mph
  3. Ryan Braun: 97.4 mph
  4. Nelson Cruz: 97.3 mph
  5. Randal Grichuk: 96.7 mph
    4. Broxton can run, too
    Villar wasn't the Brewers' only basestealing threat last year. Keon Broxton stole 23 bases in his 75-game Milwaukee debut, and he was more efficient, caught only four times to Villar's MLB-high 18. The 26-year-old Broxton also got impressive jumps; his average 22.5-foot secondary lead on steals of second base ranked immediately behind Villar for sixth best in the Majors. And his average max speed on those steals was 20.7 mph, per Statcast™, sixth fastest in the big leagues.

Fastest average max speed on steals of second base in 2016 (minimum 15 tracked steals)

  1. Billy Hamilton: 21.7 mph
  2. Jarrod Dyson: 21.2 mph
  3. Travis Jankowski: 20.9 mph
  4. Michael Trout: 20.8 mph
  5. Dee Gordon: 20.8 mph
  6. Keon Broxton: 20.7 mph
  7. Trea Turner: 20.6 mph
  8. Starling Marte: 20.6 mph
  9. Jose Altuve: 20.6 mph
  10. Eduardo Nunez: 20.5 mph
    5. Lots of glove
    Statcast™'s Catch Probability shows how impressive Broxton was in center field last season, as well as the fact that Braun and Domingo Santana had a tougher time in the corners. Broxton made three 5-Star plays (catch probability 25 percent or lower) in nine chances, a 33.3 percent conversion rate that was third best among outfielders. He also made four of six 4-Star catches, the 10th-best rate. Braun and Santana, on the other hand, often didn't convert more routine plays, especially Santana. On 1-star plays (catch probability 91-95 percent), he made a catch only 75 percent of the time, tied for third worst in MLB.

Highest 5-star catch rate in 2016 (minimum 50 total outfield chances)

  1. Billy Hamilton: 37.5 percent (9 of 24)
  2. Travis Jankowski: 35.7 percent (5 of 14)
  3. Keon Broxton: 33.3 percent (3 of 9)
  4. Kevin Kiermaier: 30 percent (3 of 10)
  5. Desmond Jennings: 28.6 percent (2 of 7)

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