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Statcast metrics show Zimmer's dynamic talent

Tribe outfielder ranked among elite players in Sprint Speed, Exit Velocity, Arm Strength
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- As the story goes, Bradley Zimmer was in the Indians' training room after having worn a fastball to the ribs earlier in the afternoon in a Cactus League game three springs ago. When the medical staff examined his side, there was no bruising or mark to be found.

"This guy's a machine," Michael Brantley said nearby.

CLEVELAND -- As the story goes, Bradley Zimmer was in the Indians' training room after having worn a fastball to the ribs earlier in the afternoon in a Cactus League game three springs ago. When the medical staff examined his side, there was no bruising or mark to be found.

"This guy's a machine," Michael Brantley said nearby.

That is why "Machine" wound up on the back of Zimmer's jersey for Players Weekend last season, which was the rookie's first taste of the Major League stage. The center fielder lived up to the moniker, too. Zimmer flashed an exceptionally powerful arm from the outfield, chased down drives to the gap with jaw-dropping dives, raced around the bases at elite speeds and had baseballs rocket off his bat at incredible rates.

Zimmer, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, looks like a prototype for Statcast™ metrics. Thanks to the tracking system that now exists in every Major League stadium, the eye test can be supported with data. It is easy to be impressed by Zimmer's baseball tools, but now there are numbers to illustrate where he stands against some of the game's top athletes.

Video: TEX@CLE: Statcast™ measures Zimmer's four-star catch

"He showed he can be a really dynamic Major League player who's capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways," said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti. "He was really consistent defensively and on the bases throughout the course of his time in the Major Leagues."

Here is some of what Statcast™ -- or maybe it should be called "Bradcast" -- captured from Zimmer in 2017.

Sprint Speed
A new metric unveiled with Statcast™ in 2017 was Sprint Speed, which measures how many feet per second a player runs in his fastest one-second window. Zimmer was not only the fastest player on the Indians, but one of the fastest players in the Major Leagues.

Here were the 2017 Sprint Speed leaders:

1. Byron Buxton: 30.2 ft/s
2. Billy Hamilton: 30.1
3. Zimmer: 29.9

Zimmer, who was only up with Cleveland for 101 games, recorded the fastest home-to-first (3.7 seconds) and home-to-third (11.5 seconds) times for the team last season. He stole 18 bases in 19 attempts, collected 13 infield singles and had four bunt hits. In the outfield, Zimmer's top Sprint Speed was clocked at 32.5 feet per second.

Every once in a while, Zimmer could turn a routine grounder into a spectacle. Consider what happened in the seventh inning against the Royals on Aug. 26. The rookie chopped a pitch to Eric Hosmer, who gloved the ball while Zimmer was still at the edge of the dirt circle around home plate. Hosmer did not have far to go to step on the bag, but Zimmer hustled up the line (30.4 Sprint Speed) and slid in safely in the nick of time.

Tweet from @MLBastian: The first baseman has the ball. Zimmer beat him to the bag. pic.twitter.com/S9y3GJNRRF

"He's so big compared to what we think of as the speedy guys," Indians relief ace Andrew Miller said last year. "Whether that's just getting from home to first, beating out a ground ball, running in a gap, stealing a base, it's a little bit confusing to the eyes. You're used to seeing the little guys that are the speedsters. He can compete with anybody, it seems like."

Exit Velocity
Tape-measure shots were not a part of Zimmer's package in his rookie year, when he cleared the fence eight times. It was the velocity at which baseballs left his bat that jumped out.

On July 25, Zimmer unloaded on a pitch from Jesse Chavez of the Angels, sending it out to center at Progressive Field at 112.2 mph. That blast -- his first career grand slam -- marked the hardest-hit regular-season home run by an Indians batter since Statcast™ began in 2015. It narrowly edged out a 112.1-mph shot from Francisco Lindor on Sept. 30, 2016.

Zimmer also boasts the hardest-hit ball of any kind for a Cleveland hitter since Statcast™ launched (regular season or playoffs). That was a 114.6-mph double off Sonny Gray on May 30 last summer. Zimmer has actually recorded three of the 10-fastest exit velocities in the past three seasons for an Indians batter. Last year, he also led the Tribe (min. 150 batted ball events) with 30.5 percent (62 of 203) of recorded balls in play having an exit velocity of at least 100 mph.

Video: CLE@DET: Statcast™ measures Zimmer's 99.6-mph throw

Arm Strength
For nearly three months last season, Zimmer owned the hardest thrown outfield assist in the Majors. Brett Phillips of the Brewers stole the crown with a 104-mph assist on Sept. 13, pushing Zimmer down a peg. Those two stood tall when it came to powerful throws among outfielders.

Zimmer's 101.5-mph assist on June 18 -- a low laser that skipped over the mound and arrived in catcher Roberto Perez's glove in time to halt Max Kepler from scoring -- was actually his second-hardest recorded throw of the year. He also had a throw clocked at 102.5 mph on July 31.

Statcast™ registered 18 throws from outfielders at 100 mph or faster last season. Zimmer led the way with five of those throws, with Phillips coming in second with four. Overall in 2017, Zimmer had three of the seven-hardest throws, six in the Top 20 and eight in the Top 25.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Bradley Zimmer