How Yanks' Big 3 dominate the bat speed leaderboard

May 14th, 2024

There's one Big Three on Statcast's new bat tracking leaderboard, and it's the big three Bronx Bombers: , and .

Stanton, Judge and Soto all have elite bat speed. In that respect, they're the same. They're the only trio of teammates in MLB's top 10 for 2024: Stanton at No. 1, Judge at No. 7 and Soto at No. 10.

But the Yankees' star sluggers all have very different swings. And that's what makes their juxtaposition on the bat speed leaderboard so interesting. All three bats fly through the zone, but no two swing paths are the same.

"Our swings are fast," Soto told "But I would say it's just a different way. At the end of the day, you just try to catch up to the ball in the same spot, at the same time: Right moment, right swing."

The only things that are the same are the bat speed, and the results, when Stanton, Judge and Soto get the barrel to the baseball: ridiculous home runs. Like Stanton's 119.9 mph homer that's the hardest of the 2024 season; or Judge's 473-foot homer that's tied for the longest; or Soto's 440-foot home run over the opposite-field bullpen at Yankee Stadium.

"That's the beauty of baseball," Stanton said. "You can be any body size, any body type, any type of stance, any type of approach to getting the barrel to the ball. Like how me and Judge are very similar in size, but we attack the zone very differently, and generate power both ways. I think that's cool."

Here's how Stanton, Judge and Soto each get the most out of their top-tier bat speed, but in their own ways, as three of the most dangerous hitters in baseball.

Giancarlo Stanton: The king of raw bat speed

Stanton stands alone when it comes to bat speed. He's the only hitter with an average swing speed over 80 mph. His 80.6 mph bat speed is nearly 9 mph faster than the MLB average bat speed, 72 mph, and nearly 6 mph faster than Statcast's "fast swing" threshold, 75 mph, which is the point where hitters really start to do damage if they square the ball up.

That's why when Stanton connects, no one can match the Stantonian blasts that those swings yield. He hit the two hardest home runs of the 2024 season on back-to-back days, reaching exit velocities of 119.9 mph and 118.8 mph against the Astros at Yankee Stadium last week.

But he also has one of the longest swings in baseball. Stanton's average swing length -- 8.4 feet from the start of the swing to the contact point -- is second-longest only to Javier Báez's 8.7 feet this season, and over a foot longer than the average MLB swing, 7.3 feet.

That long, flat swing is what generates the 6-foot-6 slugger's extreme power, but it also means Stanton needs to match that swing to the flight of the pitch just right if he wants to convert his bat speed into results at the plate. On his 119.9 mph homer, he had an 83.7 mph bat speed and an 8.6 foot swing length. On his 118.8 mph homer, he had an 85.1 mph bat speed and an 8.8 foot swing length.

"The bat speed definitely plays," Stanton said. "But it's just about how often can you get that barrel on the ball with it."

Step 1 to create a Stantonian blast is to let it rip. Stanton creates the possibility of a 120 mph home run with basically every swing, which is what makes him so dangerous.

An incredible 98% of Stanton's competitive swings this season have qualified as fast swings. The next-closest hitters, Kyle Schwarber and Oneil Cruz, only reach that 75 mph mark 74% of the time. And 121 of his 199 competitive swings have been 80 mph or faster, nearly double any other slugger.

Most 80+ mph swings, 2024

  1. Giancarlo Stanton: 121
  2. Oneil Cruz: 66
  3. Matt Chapman: 56
  4. Kyle Schwarber: 45
  5. Ronald Acuña Jr. 42

Interestingly, when Stanton takes those hacks, he's not thinking about selling out for power. And he doesn't need to. If he does that, it throws off his swing mechanics.

"You've just got to be quick and accurate, and not powerful. Then the power comes," Stanton said. "If you swing as hard as you can, your barrel will drag a little bit, and you won't be consistent. You might run into a few, but you won't be as consistent. You need to understand your most powerful swing, and then dial that back to a game swing."

The adrenaline of stepping to the plate in a Major League game -- especially in front of the Yankee Stadium crowd -- takes care of the rest. That "game swing" becomes a full-power swing naturally when he's clicking, and he doesn't go overboard swinging out of his shoes.

"The game bumps it up," Stanton said. "If I tell myself '85%' in the game, that becomes 100%. If I tell myself to swing 100% in the game, then it's 110%, and my swing is out of whack."

Step 2 is to get that barrel on the ball like he envisions. And Stanton's been successful at doing so this season. Almost one out of every five of his swings has resulted in a "blast" -- that's, essentially, a high bat speed combined with squared-up contact on the sweet spot of the bat, the type of swing that will yield barrels, extra-base hits and home runs. Stanton's blast rate per swing is top-five in the Majors. He trails only William Contreras, Shohei Ohtani … and Soto. That means he's getting the outcomes he wants from his uniquely powerful swing.

Aaron Judge: A swing designed for damage

Judge is just as big and strong as Stanton, but even the 6-foot-7 superstar doesn't have quite the same extreme bat speed every single swing. The thing is, Judge doesn't need it.

"I want to be down. I want to be down through the ball," Stanton said. "I believe Judge is more clearing hips, clearing space. I'm down with all my weight, and flow down and keep my direction to the big part of the field."

Judge still has top-tier bat speed, averaging 76.5 mph this season, but with a swing plane more perfectly engineered for power hitting. Judge has a steeper approach than Stanton and the elongated torque of his swing. No. 99's is engineered to get the barrel up and into the zone as soon as possible and drive the ball in the air. That's what turned Judge into an elite home run hitter.

"I stopped trying to swing as hard as I can and tried to focus on being quick, being simple," Judge said. "I was really big on swinging down, I thought that was the quickest. But in reality, when you work behind the baseball, you're in the zone quicker.

"That allows you more room for error. So you get ready for 95, but if he throws 97, you're still in the zone and have a chance to make some contact. But if you're a little more direct, and swing as hard you can, your room for error isn't as much."

Despite his slow start to the season, Judge has now reached double-digit home runs, putting him at close to a 40-homer pace. He's among the MLB leaders in total "blast" swings, with 44 -- trailing only Contreras, Ohtani, Bobby Witt Jr., Salvador Perez … and Soto.

And a Judgian blast can still be just as dramatic as a Stantonian blast -- Judge's 473-footer beyond Monument Park in the Bronx had a 79.4 mph swing speed and 8.1 foot swing length, not so extreme as Stanton's but enough to equal Mike Trout for the longest home run of 2024.

Of Judge's 10 home runs this season, "only" two have come with a bat speed over 80 mph … compared to every home run for Stanton. But that's because Judge relies more on his strength, his bat path and his time in the zone all working in concert to power the ball out anywhere in the yard.

"I really don't think about my bat speed like that, to be honest," Judge said. "What I think about is the speed of my bat getting in the zone, and how quick that is. If it's quick getting in the zone, good things are gonna happen."

That's why you see him drive so many home runs to the opposite field, when he stays on the pitch long enough to take the pitcher deep the other way. The best example might have been when he went yard off Tigers ace Tarik Skubal, going inside-out on a 97 mph fastball with an 82.2 mph swing and hitting it 109.3 mph to the right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.

Judge's five opposite-field homers this season -- that's half his total -- are tied for the Major League lead. And he tends to have a shorter swing path when he hits them, with an average swing length of 7.9 feet on his oppo home runs compared to 8.5 feet on the ones he's pulled.

Juan Soto: The best of both worlds

And then there's Soto -- the exemplar of how to get the absolute most out of your bat speed. Soto's bat speed is a little lower than Stanton and Judge's -- still in the top 10 in the Majors, of course -- but the way he squares up the baseball with his short, level swing is what sets him apart.

Soto is in a league of his own when it comes to combining fast bat speeds with contact on the sweet spot of the barrel. Look at that graph up above, with bat speed on the X-axis and squared-up rate on the Y-axis. You want to be in the top right quadrant … and Soto is just above and beyond even the other outliers like Ohtani, Contreras, Witt and Yordan Alvarez.

"My swing is, I try to be on top of the ball. I try to be on top of the ball and be on time," Soto said. "That's my main mindset. That's how I describe it: A swing that is gonna be quick and long in the strike zone. Quick, long in the strike zone and on top of the ball, those are my main things."

Nearly 40% of Soto's swings result in squared-up contact, which means he's getting close to the max possible exit velocity that his bat speed could produce. And because that bat speed is also among the fastest in baseball, those squared-up swings are usually blasts.

"You've got to find your path, your happy zone," Soto said. "You've got to find the way. Just try to find a path where you don't overswing, take it nice and relaxed and try to make good contact. That's what's gonna take me to my fastest swing, and actually is gonna help me to be more accurate."

It's Soto, not Stanton or Judge, who has the most blasts of any Bronx Bomber. He has the second-most blasts of any hitter, and the second-highest rate of turning his swings into blasts. Just about one in four Soto swings is a blast (23.6%), trailing only the MLB leader Contreras.

Most blasts, 2024

  1. William Contreras: 58
  2. Juan Soto: 50
  3. Shohei Ohtani / Bobby Witt Jr.: 46
  4. Salvador Perez: 45
  5. Aaron Judge: 44

Blasts: Combine a fast bat speed with squared-up contact

When Soto blasts the baseball, you see things like the 113.4 mph, 440-foot home run over the Yankees' bullpen in left-center. But Soto isn't just known for home run hitting like Stanton and Judge.

His bat speed is so valuable because of how it helps lay the foundation for the transcendent skill that makes him arguably the most complete hitter in the world: The way Soto battles from the beginning of every at-bat to the end, laying off close pitches with exceptional plate discipline (and Soto Shuffling afterwards) and spoiling a pitcher's best stuff by reacting with his swing at the last possible moment.

That is where you see Soto's bat speed in action. He generates his top-10 bat speed with a swing that is much shorter than Stanton or Judge's. Soto's average swing length is just 7.3 feet, almost a foot shorter than his teammates when he goes bat-to-ball.

"At the end of the day, the bat speed is gonna help you to get to some pitches, try to react a little bit later, and have time to see the ball travel a little bit more to the plate," Soto said. "No worrying about going towards the ball, way too early. You can wait longer to make a decision."

That's why Soto is such an elite all-fields hitter. He can turn on a pitch and drive it to the pull side when he gets the jump on a pitcher -- like his 112.6 mph, 447-foot homer to the Eutaw St. at Camden Yards against the Orioles on April 30 -- or he can stay on even the nastiest strikeout pitches and rope them the other way.

It makes him seemingly impossible for a pitcher to beat. Soto gets his bat to the ball so fast, in any situation. Even his home runs have short swing paths -- they average 7.6 feet, including 7.3 feet on his oppo shot against Houston and 7.1 feet on his rocket against the O's, which are his two hardest-hit and longest homers of the year.

And when Soto widens his stance and digs in with two strikes, he still keeps up his bat speed and turns it into results. He averages 74.9 mph in two-strike situations, squares up the ball on 40.0% of his swings and blasts the ball on 21.4% of his swings. All of those marks are among the best in the Majors.

"I try to stay with the same mindset: I don't want to give my swing away," Soto said. "Every time I make a swing, I'm gonna try to do damage. That's what helps me to keep the same bat speed, even when I'm in two strikes."

That's why Soto is such a perfect fit in the No. 2 spot of the Yankees' order, with the big boppers in Judge and Stanton looming behind him. And that's really what makes the Bronx Bombers such a threat: Three of the fastest bats in the big leagues in the heart of the same batting order, with three unique swings, but all crushing the baseball.

"In my opinion, when we're all going well and doing the right thing, our bats are all getting in the zone early," Judge said. "Soto's bat's in the zone for a long time, that's why he can hit the fastball out to left field here, and then you see him take offspeed pitches where he gets them out in front and drives them to right. And the same with Stanton: He's in the zone early and you see him crush fastballs out here and take offspeed to the bleachers. When we're in the zone early and stay through it, good things happen."