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Statcast spotlight: 5 players to watch

MLB.com

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

Joey Gallo, Rangers
Gallo put his exceptional power on full display on Friday, crushing a pair of monstrous home runs in a win over the Royals. The first of those left his bat at a blistering 116.1 mph and traveled a projected 462 feet deep into the right-field seats. The slugger now has the longest homer in MLB this season, plus two of the three hardest-hit. Friday's blast also ranked as the sixth-hardest big fly of the Statcast™ Era, with only three players hitting one at a higher exit velocity.

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

Joey Gallo, Rangers
Gallo put his exceptional power on full display on Friday, crushing a pair of monstrous home runs in a win over the Royals. The first of those left his bat at a blistering 116.1 mph and traveled a projected 462 feet deep into the right-field seats. The slugger now has the longest homer in MLB this season, plus two of the three hardest-hit. Friday's blast also ranked as the sixth-hardest big fly of the Statcast™ Era, with only three players hitting one at a higher exit velocity.

Longest homers of 2017
1. Gallo: 462 ft, April 21
2. Carlos Gomez: 461 ft, April 3
3. Matt Holliday: 459 ft, April 17
4 (tie). Charlie Blackmon: 458 ft, April 11
4 (tie). Travis Shaw: 458 ft, April 20

Hardest-hit homers of 2017
1. Gallo: 116.1 mph, April 21
2 (tie). Gallo: 115.6 mph, April 4

2 (tie). Giancarlo Stanton: 115.6 mph, April 12
4 (tie). Aaron Judge: 115.5 mph, April 19
4 (tie). Trey Mancini: 115.5 mph, April 12

Hardest-hit homers since 2015
1. Stanton: 119.2 mph, 6/23/15
2. Stanton: 118.5 mph, 4/23/15
3. Carlos Gonzalez: 117.4 mph, 4/4/16
4. Stanton: 116.8 mph, 4/30/16
5. Alex Rodriguez: 116.5 mph, 5/1/15
6. Gallo: 116.1 mph, 4/21/17

Video: SF@COL: Belt slugs a 456-foot blast to center field

Brandon Belt, Giants
Like many hitters, Belt thrives at Coors Field, where he has better than a 1.000 career OPS. The damage includes 10 home runs -- his most at any visiting park. The latest came Friday night, when Belt clobbered a home run to dead center field that traveled a projected 456 feet. That made it Belt's third longest of the Statcast™ Era -- with all three of those coming in Colorado.

Belt's longest HR since 2015
1. 475 ft -- 5/22/15 @ COL
2. 457 ft -- 9/7/16 @ COL
3. 456 ft -- 4/21/17 @ COL
4. 433 ft -- 4/7/17 @ SD
5. 431 ft -- 5/16/15 @ CIN

Belt's average homer distance since 2015
Overall: 401 feet (39 homers)
At home: 392 feet (11 homers)
Coors Field: 431 feet (5 homers)

Video: ARI@SD: Miller strikes out five en route to win

Shelby Miller, D-backs (starts Sunday vs. Dodgers)
Miller was on his game in his most recent outing at San Diego, allowing only one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings. While he notched a modest five strikeouts, the 20 batted balls against him averaged an exit velocity of only 76.7 mph. That's Miller's best single-game mark in the Statcast™ Era and the second-best in the Majors this year for a pitcher with at least 10 batted balls allowed. Through his first three starts, Miller's average exit velocity of 85.7 mph is down considerably from his 2016 total (89.1 mph), while his average four-seam fastball velocity is up from 92.9 mph to 95.1 mph.

Lowest single-game avg. exit velocity allowed in 2017 (Minimum 10 batted balls)
1. Zach Davies: 75.2 mph, April 15
2 (tie). Miller: 76.7 mph, April 18
2 (tie). Robert Gsellman: 76.7 mph, April 13
4. Noah Syndergaard: 77.8 mph, April 9
5. Dylan Bundy: 78.5 mph, April 16

Video: STL@MIL: Thames crushes a two-run homer in the 5th

Eric Thames, Brewers
How is Thames pacing the Majors in several offensive categories through the first three weeks of the season? The slugger has explained that his sojourn in South Korea helped him to adjust his plate discipline and sort out his issues against offspeed pitches, as he faced a steady diet of them in the Korea Baseball Organization. Though it's still very early in Thames' return to the big leagues, his Statcast™ metrics certainly back those explanations. The Brewers slugger has cut his chase rate by more than half, according to Statcast™'s pitch-tracking data, and he has also nearly doubled his slugging percentage against all non-fastball pitches.

Thames, 2011-12 vs. '17

2011-12
• Swing percentage on out-of-zone pitches: 35.0 percent (34th-highest out of 292 MLB batters with a minimum 1,000 out-of-zone pitches seen)
• Slugging percentage vs. off-speed pitches: .397 (95th out of 271 MLB hitters, minimum 200 at-bats vs. offspeed pitches)

2017
• Swing percentage on out-of-zone pitches: 8.4 percent (17th-lowest out of 241 MLB batters, minimum 150 pitches seen)
• Slugging percentage vs. off-speed pitches: .667 (11th out of 155 MLB hitters, minimum 20 at-bats vs. offspeed pitches)

Ivan Nova, Pirates (starts Sunday vs. Yankees)
Nova has not walked a batter in 20 innings this season, giving him a total of three free passes in 84 2/3 innings since the Pirates acquired him last August. How has the righty managed that amazing feat? It obviously helps that he rarely has put himself in position to throw ball four -- by not throwing ball three in the first place. Since Nova came to Pittsburgh, only 3.5 percent of his pitches have come in three-ball counts -- the lowest rate of any pitcher with 750 total pitches, just ahead of Clayton Kershaw.

Lowest rate of pitches thrown in three-ball counts since Aug. 1, 2016 (minimum 750 total pitches)
1. Nova: 3.5 percent
2. Kershaw: 4.0 percent
3. Chris Sale: 4.5 percent
4. Josh Tomlin: 4.8 percent
5. Bartolo Colon: 5.2 percent

Brandon Belt, Joey Gallo, Shelby Miller, Ivan Nova, Eric Thames