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5 Statcast storylines for '17 Mariners

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 Mariners heading into the 2017 season.
1. The Boomstick reigns supreme
No player hit the ball harder last season than Nelson Cruz, who averaged an MLB-best exit velocity of 95.9 mph. Only Jose Cabrera clubbed more barrels -- batted balls whose combination of exit velocity and slugging percentage yield an expected batting average of at least .500 and slugging percentage of at least 1.500 -- than Cruz's 68 in 2016, and only Michael Trout has bested Cruz's combined total of 123 barrels over the first two seasons of the Statcast™ Era.

Highest average exit velocity in 2016 (minimum 200 balls in play)

  1. Nelson Cruz: 95.9 mph
  2. Giancarlo Stanton: 95.1 mph
  3. Matthew Holliday: 94.7 mph
  4. Miguel Cabrera: 94.5 mph
  5. David Ortiz: 94.2 mph
    Most barrels, 2016
  6. Miguel Cabrera: 72
  7. Nelson Cruz: 68
  8. Mark Trumbo: 67
  9. Khris Davis: 65
  10. David Ortiz: 62
    Most barrels in Statcast™ Era (2015-present)
  11. Mike Trout, 125
    2. Nelson Cruz, 123
  12. David Ortiz, 115
  13. Chris Davis, 114
  14. J.D. Martinez, 110
    2. Filthy stuff
    Rookie Edwin Diaz made a name for himself in 2016 on the strength of two dominant pitches. Diaz's two-seam fastball averaged 97.7 mph, the third-fastest pitch in the Majors, and it touched 100 mph or more an incredible 21 times. Meanwhile, Diaz's slider generated more swings and misses than any other pitch in the big leagues.

Highest average two-seamer/sinker velocity in 2016 (minimum 200 thrown)

  1. Arodys Vizcaino: 98.2 mph
  2. Noah Syndergaard: 98.1 mph
  3. Edwin Diaz: 97.7 mph
  4. Zach Britton: 97.1 mph
  5. Nate Jones: 97.1 mph
    Highest whiff rate on sliders in 2016 (minimum 250 sliders thrown)
  6. Edwin Diaz, 35.0 percent
  7. Ken Giles, 34.2 percent
  8. Luke Gregerson, 32.6 percent
  9. Noah Syndergaard, 28.8 percent
  10. Max Scherzer, 28.0 percent
    3. Speed burners
    Leonys Martin has built a reputation as one of the fastest players in the Major Leagues -- a reputation that is backed up by Statcast™. On May 25 of last year, Martin recorded a time of 3.64 seconds from home to first base, which ranked as the fastest home-to-first time of anyone in the Majors last season. Martin's teammate Jarrod Dyson also placed in the top 10.
    Fastest individual home-to-first times in 2016 (non-bunt plays)
    1. Leonys Martin, 3.64 seconds (5/25/16 vs. Athletics)
  11. Billy Burns, 3.75 seconds (9/19/16 vs. White Sox)
  12. Billy Hamilton, 3.76 seconds (8/26/16 vs. D-backs)
  13. Dee Gordon, 3.77 seconds (4/15/16 vs. Braves)
  14. Ichiro Suzuki, 3.78 seconds (7/17/16 vs. Cardinals)
    6. Jarrod Dyson, 3.83 seconds (9/27/16 vs. Twins)
    4. Four-star generals
    Using a rating system from 5-Star plays (most difficult) to 1-Star plays (easiest), Statcast™'s newest metric, catch probability, highlights the outfielders who exceled at getting to some of the toughest batted balls and converting them into outs. Dyson posted an 88.9 percent success rate (8-for-9) on 4-Star plays -- plays in which a fielder has between a 26 and 50 percent chance of catching the ball -- good for second best in the Majors. Meanwhile, Martin filled the highlight reel with 16 4-Star catches to rank second by volume behind the Nationals' Adam Eaton.
    Video: KC@MIA: Dyson sprints 19.8 mph to rob a home run
    Highest success rate on 4-Star plays in 2016
  15. Steven Souza, Jr., 91.7 percent
  16. Jarrod Dyson, 88.9 percent
  17. Kevin Kiermaier, 87.5 percent
  18. Jake Marisnick, 80.0 percent
  19. (tie) Billy Hamilton, 75.0 percent
  20. (tie) Desmond Jennings, 75.0 percent
    Most 4-Star outs completed in 2016
  21. Adam Eaton, 20
  22. Leonys Martin, 16
  23. Billy Hamilton, 15
  24. (tie) Ian Desmond, 14
  25. (tie) Kevin Kiermaier, 14
    Video: SEA@TEX: Martin covers 98.2 feet to rob Desmond of HR
    5. Lift me up
    Robinson Cano and offseason acquisition Jean Segura saw their home run totals jump by 18 and 14, respectively, from 2015 to '16. While power numbers were up across the Majors last year, both middle infielders made some clear changes with regard to the contact they made.
    Cano more than doubled his average launch angle, gaining 6.4 degrees, while Segura wasn't far behind with a 5.6-degree increase. Out of 142 players who put at least 250 balls in play in both seasons, Cano's gain was the largest, while Segura's was fourth.
    Video: Morosi discusses Cano's launch angle on MLB Tonight
    Largest increase in launch angle in 2015-16 (minimum 250 balls in play both years)
  26. Robinson Cano: 6.4 degrees (5.4 to 11.8)
  27. Rougned Odor: 6.3 degrees (8.2 to 14.5)
  28. Daniel Murphy: 6.1 degrees (10.7 to 16.8)
  29. Jean Segura: 5.6 degrees (6.1 to 11.7)
  30. (tie) Brad Miller: 4.6 degrees (8.4 to 13.0)
  31. (tie) Brandon Belt: 4.6 degrees (15.8 to 20.4)

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