Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

5 Statcast storylines for '17 Nationals

March 31, 2017

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

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 Nationals heading into the 2017 season.
1. Going higher
From 2015-16, Daniel Murphy raised his average launch angle from 10.7 degrees to 16.8 degrees. That gain (6.1 degrees) was the third largest among the 142 players who put at least 250 balls in play in both seasons, helping Murphy hit a career-high 25 home runs, 11 more than he ever had before.
Largest increase in launch angle from 2015-16
Minimum 250 balls in play in both years

  1. Robinson Cano: 6.4 degrees (5.4 to 11.8)
  2. Rougned Odor: 6.3 degrees (8.2 to 14.5)
    3. Daniel Murphy: 6.1 degrees (10.7 to 16.8)
  3. Jean Segura: 5.6 degrees (6.1 to 11.7)
    5-T. Brad Miller: 4.6 degrees (8.4 to 13.0)
    5-T. Brandon Belt: 4.6 degrees (15.8 to 20.4)

2. Filthy four-seamer
During his National League Cy Young Award-winning 2016 season, Max Scherzer averaged 95 mph with his four-seam fastball, ranking 10th among pitchers who threw at least 1,000 of them. Meanwhile, his four-seamer spin rate (2,550 rpm) dwarfed the MLB average (2,264) and ranked second behind only Justin Verlander out of 97 pitchers who had at least 750 such pitches tracked. High-spin four-seamers tend to create more fly balls and missed swings, and in fact, Scherzer finished second among qualified MLB pitchers in strikeout rate and sixth in fly ball rate, succeeding up in the zone.
Highest average four-seamer spin rate in 2016
Minimum 750 tracked

  1. Justin Verlander: 2,565 rpm
    2. Max Scherzer: 2,550 rpm
  2. Blake Snell: 2,507 rpm
  3. Dylan Bundy: 2,489 rpm
  4. Thomas Pomeranz: 2,471 rpm

Most missed swings on 4-seamers in upper third of strike zone in 2016

  1. Justin Verlander: 80
    2. Max Scherzer: 66
  2. J.A. Happ: 59
    4-T. Ian Kennedy: 55
    4-T. Robbie Ray: 55
    3. Hunting highlights
    With the White Sox in 2016, Adam Eaton led all outfielders by making 30 catches that Statcast™ classified as four- or five-star plays -- the most difficult classifications on the 1-to-5 scale. The star system is based on Catch Probability, which factors in the distance the outfielder has to travel and his "opportunity time," which runs from when the pitcher releases the ball to when it is projected to land.
    Most four- and five-star catches made, 2016
    1. Adam Eaton: 30
  3. Billy Hamilton: 24
  4. Ender Inciarte: 21
    4-T. Jake Marisnick: 20
    4-T. Leonys Martin: 20

4. Let me assist you
Eaton also fared well in terms of his throwing arm. He recorded 12 outfield assists in which his throw was clocked at 90 mph or harder, tying him with Eddie Rosario for second in the Majors, behind only Ender Inciarte (13). Five of those assists reached at least 95 mph, tying Eaton for the MLB lead with Carlos Gonzalez and Starling Marte.
Most outfield assists of 90-plus mph in 2016

  1. Ender Inciarte: 13
    2-T. Adam Eaton: 12
    2-T. Eddie Rosario: 12
    4-T. Leonys Martin: 10
    4-T. Starling Marte: 10

5. Winning with weak contact
Despite a rate of 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings that ranked 52nd of 74 qualified pitchers, Tanner Roark posted a 2.83 ERA last season. It helped that Roark excelled at inducing weak contact, with opponents averaging an exit velocity of only 86.4 mph when they put the ball in play. That was seventh lowest among 145 pitchers who allowed at least 250 balls in play.
Lowest average exit velocity allowed in 2016
Minimum 250 balls in play

  1. Jacob Arrieta: 85.4 mph
  2. Clayton Kershaw: 86.0 mph
  3. Dallas Keuchel: 86.1 mph
  4. Chris Sale: 86.1 mph
  5. Francisco Liriano: 86.1 mph
  6. Noah Syndergaard: 86.3 mph
    7. Tanner Roark: 86.4 mph
  7. Collin McHugh: 86.5 mph
  8. Josh Collmenter: 86.6 mph
  9. Jorge De La Rosa: 87.0 mph

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.