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Statcast spotlight: 5 players to watch today

MLB.com

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

Edwin Encarnacion
8:05 p.m. ET -- Indians at Rangers
Cleveland signed Encarnacion for his right-handed power, and that's what he brought in the opener. His game-tying homer in the eighth inning was projected to travel 422 feet -- his 26th of at least 420 feet in the Statcast™ Era. That ranks fifth in the Majors and third among non-Rockies.

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

Edwin Encarnacion
8:05 p.m. ET -- Indians at Rangers
Cleveland signed Encarnacion for his right-handed power, and that's what he brought in the opener. His game-tying homer in the eighth inning was projected to travel 422 feet -- his 26th of at least 420 feet in the Statcast™ Era. That ranks fifth in the Majors and third among non-Rockies.

Most homers of at least 420 feet since 2015
1. Carlos Gonzalez: 36
2. Nelson Cruz: 34
3. Nolan Arenado: 33
4. Giancarlo Stanton: 28
5. Encarnacion: 26

Carlos Gomez
8:05 p.m. ET -- Indians at Rangers
Gomez performed well down the stretch for the Rangers last season after being released by Houston. Texas re-signed him as a free agent, hoping a healthy Gomez would rebound over a full season. So far, so good. Gomez blasted a huge home run off Corey Kluber in the third inning in the season opener, connecting for a 111.6-mph exit velocity and 461-foot projected distance. That was both the hardest and longest homer for Gomez in the Statcast™ Era.

Gomez's highest exit velocity on a homer since 2015
1. 111.6 mph -- 4/3/2017
2. 110.4 mph -- 5/29/2015
3. 110.2 mph -- 9/27/2016

Gomez's furthest homer since 2015
1. 461 feet -- 4/3/2017
2. 445 feet -- 6/11/2016
3. 444 feet -- 9/9/2015

Video: CLE@TEX: Gomez crushes a 461-foot home run to left

CC Sabathia
7:10 p.m. ET -- Yankees at Rays
Sabathia had a resurgent season in 2016, making 30 starts and posting a 3.91 ERA after three straight seasons above 4.70. The lefty's batted-balls numbers back up that improvement. Sabathia's 85.2-mph average exit velocity last season was the second lowest among pitchers with at least 250 balls in play, and his improvement of 2.6 mph from '15 was the largest among 95 hurlers who hit the 250 mark in both years.

Biggest decrease in average exit velocity allowed in 2015-16 (minimum 250 batted balls in both years)
1. Sabathia: 2.6 mph (87.8 to 85.2)
2. Jeremy Hellickson: 2.3 mph (89.8 to 87.5)
3. Tom Koehler: 1.9 mph (89.7 to 87.8)
4. Eduardo Rodriguez: 1.6 mph (87.6 to 86.0)
5. Kyle Hendricks: 1.4 mph (88.0 to 86.6)

Video: MLB Tonight uses Statcast™ to analyze Sabathia

Jake Arrieta
8:15 p.m. ET -- Cubs at Cardinals
How dominant has Arrieta been over the past two seasons? The right-hander is tied with Clayton Kershaw for the lowest average exit velocity among starters over the first two seasons of the Statcast™ Era.

Lowest allowed average exit velocity in 2015-16 (minimum 250 batted balls each season)
1 (tie). Arrieta, 86.2 mph
1 (tie). Kershaw, 86.2 mph
3. Collin McHugh, 86.7 mph
4. Sabathia, 86.8 mph
5 (tie). Scott Kazmir, 87.0 mph
5 (tie). Rodriguez, 87.0 mph
5 (tie). Adam Wainwright, 87.0 mph

Video: Statcast™ takes a look at Arrieta's pitching velocity

Lance McCullers Jr.
8:10 p.m. ET -- Mariners at Astros
When healthy, McCullers was plenty good in 2016, just his age-22 season. He posted a 3.22 ERA over 14 starts, and while he walked 5.0 batters per nine innings, he also struck out 11.8. But it also seems that McCullers may have encountered some bad luck on batted balls, as his actual OPS allowed (.736) was 96 points higher than his estimated OPS (.641). The latter figure is based on Statcast™'s new Hit Probability metric, which uses exit velocities and launch angles to project outcomes for all batted balls. It was the fourth-biggest gap among all pitchers who faced at least 350 batters last year, though McCullers trailed teammate McHugh.

Largest gap between actual/estimated OPS allowed in 2016 (minimum 350 batters faced)
1. Juan Nicasio: -.128 (.774 actual, .645 estimated)
2. McHugh: -.123 (.790 actual, .667 estimated)
3. Tyler Anderson: -.114 (.742 actual, .628 estimated)
4. McCullers Jr.: -.096 (.736 actual, .641 estimated)
5. Michael Pineda: -.084 (.784 actual, .699 estimated)

 

Jake Arrieta, Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Gomez, Lance McCullers Jr., CC Sabathia