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Statcast storylines for '17 Cardinals

MLB.com

As the 2017 season begins, so does the third season of Statcast™, the state-of-the-art technology that has tracked every play in every Major League ballpark since Opening Day 2015. And with two full seasons of data now collected, plus advances in applying that data, Statcast™ is better than ever. New metrics, such as Catch Probability and Hit Probability, will provide a deeper layer of analysis and further our understanding of the game.

With that in mind, here are five Statcast™ facts to know about the Cardinals heading into the 2017 season.

As the 2017 season begins, so does the third season of Statcast™, the state-of-the-art technology that has tracked every play in every Major League ballpark since Opening Day 2015. And with two full seasons of data now collected, plus advances in applying that data, Statcast™ is better than ever. New metrics, such as Catch Probability and Hit Probability, will provide a deeper layer of analysis and further our understanding of the game.

With that in mind, here are five Statcast™ facts to know about the Cardinals heading into the 2017 season.

1. Matt Carpenter, hitter by trade
Carpenter is worthy to lead the Cardinals' lineup. He hit .271/.380/.505 last season with 21 homers and an All-Star .380 wOBA -- and Statcast™ says he might have been even better than the numbers. Carpenter's expected wOBA based on Hit Probabilities was .397, 10th-highest in MLB. Carpenter is one of the most adept hitters at putting the ball in the air, with the fifth-highest average launch angle in the Statcast™ Era (2015-16). That's important for the 31-year-old: Carpenter's average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls is 92.8 mph, nearly nine mph harder than his 83.9 mph exit velocity on grounders.

Highest average launch angle, 2015-16 (minimum 600 balls in play)
1. Kris Bryant -- 19.5 degrees
2. Brandon Belt -- 18.3 degrees
3. Chris Davis -- 18.1 degrees
4. Ian Kinsler -- 17.8 degrees
5. Matt Carpenter -- 17.7 degrees

2. Yadi shines on
Anyone who just watched him dominate in the World Baseball Classic knows Yadier Molina's still got it. But just to be safe, a look at the Statcast™ data backs it up. Last season, Molina averaged a 1.94-second pop time on attempted steals of second base, the fifth-fastest in the Majors of all catchers with 20 or more tracked throws. The MLB average was 2.02 seconds. Molina's average arm strength on those steal attempts, 81.6 mph, was fifth-hardest among the 25 catchers.

Fastest average pop time to 2B on SB attempts, 2016 (minimum 20 throws)
1. J.T. Realmuto -- 1.89 seconds
2. Martin Maldonado -- 1.91 seconds
3. Carlos Perez -- 1.92 seconds
4. Salvador Perez -- 1.93 seconds
5. Yadier Molina -- 1.94 seconds

Video: STL@PHI: Yadi nails Howard stealing despite huge lead

3. Carlos Martinez brings the heat
The 25-year-old Martinez has turned into a stud for the Cardinals over the last two seasons, and everything stems from his overpowering fastball. Martinez's four-seamer averaged 96.8 mph in 2016, per Statcast™, third-hardest among starters to throw 1,000 pitches. Maybe that's why opponents hit .205 against it, fifth-lowest of anyone with 100-plus at-bats decided on four-seamers.

Highest average four-seam fastball velocity among SP, 2016 (minimum 1,000 pitches)
1. Noah Syndergaard -- 98.2 mph
2. Nathan Eovaldi -- 97.8 mph
3. Carlos Martinez -- 96.8 mph
4. James Paxton -- 96.8 mph
5. Yordano Ventura -- 96.8 mph

Video: MLB Plus uses Statcast™ to analyze Martinez's K's

4. Seung Hwan Oh looks for real
The Cardinals couldn't have asked for more from Oh in his first MLB season out of Korea. The 34-year-old had a 1.92 ERA, struck out 11.6 batters per nine innings and locked down 19 saves after taking over as St. Louis' closer. And Statcast™ suggests he earned that success by keeping opponents from squaring balls up. Based on Oh's Hit Probabilities, hitters' projected wOBA against him last season was just .233, the ninth-lowest estimated wOBA in baseball.

Lowest estimated wOBA, 2016
1. Kenley Jansen -- .193 (actual wOBA -- .196)
2. Andrew Miller -- .198 (actual wOBA -- .211)
3. Zach Britton -- .210 (actual wOBA -- .200)
4. Grant Dayton -- .211 (actual wOBA -- .220)
5. Shawn Kelley -- .222 (actual wOBA -- .270)
6. Clayton Kershaw -- .224 (actual wOBA -- .206)
7. Aroldis Chapman -- .224 (actual wOBA -- .209)
8. Alex Reyes -- .231 (actual wOBA -- .267)
9. Seung Hwan Oh -- .233 (actual wOBA -- .229)
10. Dellin Betances -- .236 (actual wOBA -- .262)

Video: MLB Plus uses Statcast™ to analyze Oh's K's in the 9th

5. Will Aledmys Diaz progress or regress?
Aledmys Diaz was an All-Star rookie: a .300/.369/.510 slash line, 17 homers in 111 games and a .376 wOBA. The Cardinals hope he gets even better, but there might be a red flag: based on Hit Probability, Statcast™ estimated his production at a significantly lower level than what it turned out. Diaz's expected wOBA for 2016 was .322 -- 54 points below his actual wOBA, the fifth-largest gap of any hitter. Diaz's estimated batting average was .252, 48 points lower than his actual, and his estimated slugging percentage was .409, 101 points below what he produced.

Largest negative gap between estimated and actual wOBA, 2016
1. Trea Turner -- -.061 (estimated wOBA .340; actual .401)
2. Dee Gordon -- -.060 (estimated wOBA .225; actual .285)
3. Byron Buxton -- -.058 (estimated wOBA .246; actual .303)
4. Cameron Maybin -- -.055 (estimated wOBA .301; actual .356)
5. Aledmys Diaz -- -.054 (estimated wOBA .322; actual .376)

Video: SF@STL: Diaz's long three-run homer ties the game

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter