Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

5 Statcast storylines for '17 Royals

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 Major League ballparks 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 Royals 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 Major League ballparks 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 Royals heading into the 2017 season.

1. Hos rakes
Few players in 2016 struck the ball with authority as often as Eric Hosmer. The 27-year-old left-handed hitter, who led a historically good contact-hitting Royals team to the 2015 World Series title, hit 155 balls with an exit velocity of at least 100 mph last season, per Statcast™. That was tied for sixth in the Majors. What's the significance of 100 mph? When reaching that plateau, the league posted a .629 batting average and a 1.319 slugging percentage in 2016.

Most balls in play at 100+ mph, 2016
1. Miguel Cabrera -- 195
2. Nelson Cruz -- 179
3. Robinson Cano -- 166
4. Manny Machado -- 165
5. Mark Trumbo -- 162
6 (tie). Eric Hosmer -- 155
6 (tie). Christian Yelich -- 155
6 (tie). Josh Donaldson -- 155
9. David Ortiz -- 153
10. Corey Seager -- 147

2. Salvy's cannon
Salvador Perez is a rock behind the plate. The 2015 World Series MVP, All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner the last four years, Perez has played more games since 2013 than any catcher not named Buster Posey. Last season, Perez led the Majors in caught stealing percentage, nabbing 48.1 percent of would-be thieves thanks to excellent pop times. On attempted steals of second base, Perez's 1.93-second average pop time ranked fourth among catchers (minimum 20 tracked throws). His best time, 1.84 seconds to nail Kevin Pillar in July, was the fifth-fastest all year. Perez's 81.2 mph average arm strength also ranked sixth in MLB.

Video: MIL@KC: Perez catches Villar on stolen base attempt

Fastest average pop time to 2B on SB attempts, 2016 (min. 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

3. Lorenzo Cain's highlight reel
Defensive metrics have always portrayed Cain as an excellent center fielder -- since his first 100-game season in 2013, Cain's 18.4 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games ranks third among qualified outfielders behind Jason Heyward and Ender Inciarte, and his 74 Defensive Runs Saved ranks second to Heyward. Now, with Catch Probability, Statcast™ can show just how difficult the plays are that Cain makes. Last season, Cain made seven 5-star catches (catch probability 25 percent or fewer), tied for fifth-most in baseball. In 2015, he made 14, tied for the most in MLB.

Video: KC@SEA: Cain races in, slides to rob Ruiz

Most 5-star catches in a single season, 2015-16
1 (tie). Lorenzo Cain, 2015 -- 14
1 (tie). Billy Hamilton, 2015 -- 14
3 (tie). Adam Eaton, 2016 -- 10
3 (tie). Ender Inciarte, 2016 -- 10
3 (tie). Mookie Betts, 2015 -- 10

4. Kelvin Herrera the fireman
Even with the departure of Wade Davis, the Royals have another elite reliever to close games in Herrera. And Herrera brings the heat. In the Statcast™ Era (2015-16), his fastball has averaged a blistering 98 mph, the third-fastest of any pitcher to throw at least 1,000 four-seamers over that timeframe. Thirty-one percent of his pitches over the last two years have been 98 mph or harder, the fourth-highest percentage in baseball (minimum 2,000 total pitches).

Video: OAK@KC: Herrera discusses his new role as a closer

Highest average four-seam fastball velocity, 2015-16 (min. 1,000 four-seamers)
1. Aroldis Chapman -- 100.4 mph
2. Arquimedes Caminero -- 98.1 mph
3. Kelvin Herrera -- 98 mph
4. Craig Kimbrel -- 97.9 mph
5. Noah Syndergaard -- 97.8 mph

5. Fearless Danny Duffy
Duffy emerged as a potential ace last season, and Statcast™ makes it easy to see why. First, Duffy attacks the strike zone. In 2016, Statcast™ tracked 45.3 percent of his pitches as in the zone, the highest rate in MLB (minimum 2,000 pitches). Those pitches aren't easy to hit -- Duffy is a left-hander pumping in 95 mph fastballs, the second-highest average four-seam velocity among lefty starters. On Aug. 1, Duffy even tied Clayton Kershaw for the Statcast-Era record for most whiffs in a single game, getting 35 against the Rays over eight innings of one-hit, 16-strikeout ball.

Video: Duffy on bullpen experience, improving his pitching

Highest rate of pitches in strike zone, 2016 (min. 2,000 pitches)
1. Danny Duffy -- 45.3 percent
2. Steven Matz -- 45.2 percent
3. Clayton Kershaw -- 44.9 percent
4. Hector Santiago -- 44.3 percent
5. Chris Sale -- 44.2 percent

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

Kansas City Royals