Statcast spotlight: 5 players to watch

April 13th, 2017

Using revolutionary Statcast™ data, here are five players to keep an eye on today. Watch it all on MLB.TV.

7:05 p.m. ET -- Rays at Yankees

After winning the battle for the Yankees' starting job in right field, Judge has raced out to a strong start to 2017. None of Judge's hits were "stronger" than the one he clubbed in the sixth inning Wednesday against Tampa Bay -- a 116.5 mph comebacker up the middle that went for a vicious single. Judge's hit didn't register as a barrel, due to its five-degree launch angle, but it did rank as the hardest-hit base hit in the Majors so far in 2017. It is also the third-hardest-hit batted ball -- for a hit or an out -- this season behind a 118.1 mph groundout by the Royals' on April 5 and a 117.2 mph groundout by, who else, Judge himself on Monday.

Hardest-hit base hits in MLB in 2017

1. 116.5 mph -- Judge, single (4/12/17 vs. Tampa Bay)

2. 116.2 mph -- Steven Souza, double (4/6/17 vs. Toronto)

3. 115.9 mph -- Judge, single (4/9/17 vs. Baltimore)

6:10 p.m. ET -- White Sox at Indians

Gonzalez got off on the right foot in his 2017 debut Saturday against the Twins, limiting Minnesota to two earned runs on seven hits while striking out six. Gonzalez's biggest weapon in that start was his changeup; Twins batters went 0-for-9 against the righty's change of pace, including six batted balls that came off the bat with an average exit velocity of just 79 mph. Gonzalez got three swinging strikeouts with his changeup, and the Twins missed six of the 13 total changeups they swung at. Gonzalez's dominance with his changeup was reminiscent of his performance with the pitch last year.

Lowest slugging percentage allowed on changeups in 2016 (minimum 100 at-bats)

1. Gonzalez, .225

2. , .232

3. , .240

4. , .244

5. , .270

6:10 p.m. ET -- White Sox at Indians

Lindor enjoyed another multihit night Wednesday, connecting on a sixth-inning double that broke up 's no-hit bid, followed up by another double in the eighth off Nate Jones. Lindor's pair of doubles were hit with exit velocities of 106.8 mph and 101.9 mph, respectively -- his seventh and eighth base hits of the year with exit velocities of at least 95 mph. Lindor has collected 95-plus-mph base hits in 21.6 percent of his plate appearances this season -- a significant uptick from his 13.3 percent rate in 2016 -- though over a much smaller sample size. Still, this could be a continuation of the increased power we saw from Lindor last October, when the shortstop collected a dozen 95-plus-mph hits in 62 postseason plate appearances, for a rate of 19.4 percent.

Lindor's rate of 95-plus mph exit velocity hits per plate appearance

2016 regular season: 13.3 percent (91 of 684)

2016 postseason: 19.4 percent (12 of 62)

2017: 21.6 percent (8 of 37)

7:10 p.m. ET -- Brewers at Reds

Arroyo wasn't known for his velocity even before missing the past two seasons due to injury. So it's no surprise the 40-year-old wasn't throwing hard when he took the mound at St. Louis on Saturday. In fact, Arroyo topped out at 86.7 mph and threw only six of his 75 pitches at 85 mph or harder. His overall average of 78.8 mph is the lowest this season among pitchers with at least 75 pitches, excluding knuckleballs. The only non-knuckleball pitcher with a lower average in 2016 (minimum 500 pitches) was (77.5 mph).

Lowest average pitch velocity in 2017 (minimum 75 pitches, non-knuckleballs)

1. Arroyo: 78.8 mph

2 (tie). Weaver: 79.5 mph

2 (tie). Rich Hill: 79.5 mph

4. : 81.5 mph

5. : 82.4 mph

8:15 p.m. ET -- Athletics at Royals

Over the first two seasons of Statcast™, we've documented how high spin rate on a pitcher's curveball can be one factor in eliciting favorable results. In tracking some of the game's best curves, 3,000 rpm has emerged as an elite benchmark for spin that only a handful of pitchers can achieve on a regular basis.

That's what makes Hahn a pitcher to keep an eye on. In his 2017 debut Friday, Hahn ripped off six curveballs that averaged a spin rate of 3,014 rpm. Of those six curves, Hahn elicited two swinging strikeouts, two flyouts, a groundout and a double. Hahn's 3,014 rpm average spin rate on his curve ranked second on the young season entering Wednesday behind the Angels' (3,233 rpm), who's now on the disabled list. Hahn also ranked second in spin rate last year among curveball throwers, with an average spin rate of 3,014 rpm that ranked behind only the Mets' (3,318 rpm).

So what's special about 3,000 rpm? Over the first two years of Statcast™, opposing batters whiffed on 37.9 percent of their swings against curves of at least 3,000 rpm, while also batting .174 and slugging just .254 against such pitches.

Highest average spin rate on curveballs in 2017 (minimum five curveballs thrown)

  1. Richards, 3,233 rpm

    2. Hahn, 3,096 rpm

  2. , 2,986 rpm

  3. , 2,983 rpm

  4. , 2,976 rpm

Highest average spin rate on curves in 2016 (minimum 100 curveballs thrown)

  1. Lugo, 3,318 rpm

    2. Hahn, 3,014 rpm

  2. , 2,979 rpm

  3. Hellickson, 2,970 rpm

  4. , 2,905 rpm