Hardest? Fastest? Highest? A list of KC's tops

January 28th, 2021

When something happens in a game that isn’t typically seen on a regular basis -- whether it’s a great defensive play, a long home run or a pitch that lights up the radar gun -- our first questions are usually whether it’s ever been done before and where it ranks among other club feats.

Since it began measuring in 2015, Statcast has allowed us to track those numbers. Here’s a guide to the best Royals numbers so far, compiled with help from Statcast guru and MLB.com researcher Sarah Langs:

Hardest base hit: Jorge Soler, 115.7 mph
Soler’s home run against Detroit’s Edwin Jackson on Sept. 4, 2019, was hit so hard that it ricocheted off the Royals Hall of Fame in left field and landed back in the visitors' bullpen at Kauffman Stadium. It was the outfielder’s 40th home run of the season and took the Royals' record for the hardest base hit, breaking the previous record of 115.6 mph, set twice: A Soler double on July 14, 2019, against the Tigers and Kendrys Morales’ home run on June 30, 2016, against the Cardinals.

Fastest pitch hit for a home run: Adalberto Mondesí, 99.1 mph
On April 12, 2017, Oakland pitcher Frankie Montas tried to fire a 99.1 mph fastball past Mondesí in the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals' shortstop didn’t let the high-powered pitch get past him. With an exit velocity of 103.1 mph, Mondesí crushed the ball 436 feet and over the center-field wall, topping Alex Gordon’s home run on May 12, 2016, off Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi’s 99 mph fastball. (Keep in mind that this is just since Statcast began measuring. While pitch velocities can be tracked back to 2008, we’re sticking with data from 2015 for these numbers.)

Highest launch angle for a home run: Lucas Duda, 48 degrees
When Duda lifted a high fly ball in the fifth inning against Yankees pitcher Luis Severino on July 28, 2018, it wasn’t immediately clear if it would land on the warning track or beyond the right-field wall. But Duda had hit it hard -- 110.7 mph off the bat -- and it landed a few rows past the wall for a two-run home run at Yankee Stadium. Duda’s 48-degree launch angle eclipsed home runs from Salvador Perez (Sept. 21, 2016) and Mike Moustakas (May 30, 2018) that had 46-degree launch angles.

Highest pitch hit for a home run: Alcides Escobar, 3.84 feet above the ground
The 91-mph sinker from Padres reliever Craig Stammen had a ton of movement on it and came in nearly shoulder high, but Escobar tracked it well, swung and made hard contact -- despite it being 3.84 feet above the ground. Escobar’s first home run of the season, on June 10, 2017, landed beyond the left-field wall at Petco Park, and the height held as the Royals’ record later that month when Eric Hosmer hit a homer on a pitch 3.78 feet above the ground.

Lowest pitch hit for a home run: Brandon Moss, 1.15 feet above the ground
The Royals and Astros were tied, 3-3, in the top of the ninth on April 9, 2017, and this golf swing from Moss put Kansas City on top before the Astros walked it off. Against Houston reliever Chris Devenski, Moss swung on a changeup that came in just 1.15 feet above the ground and sent it into the Astros' bullpen at Minute Maid Park. Moss' knock had a 105.5 mph exit velocity.

Highest expected batting average on an out: Eric Hosmer, .995
On May 3, 2017, Hosmer crushed a pitch from White Sox pitcher Dan Jennings, coming off the bat at 106.8 mph and heading for dead center field. But center fielder Leury Garcia made it to the warning track in time to catch the ball up against the wall. The crowd at Kauffman Stadium, the broadcast team and even Hosmer himself were shocked to see it didn’t land for a home run, but Hosmer still was able to score Lorenzo Cain on the sacrifice fly.

Lowest expected batting average on a hit: Jorge Soler, .005
A sunny afternoon at the ballpark can sometimes cause problems for outfielders trying to catch fly balls, and that’s what happened on April 8, 2018, in Cleveland. Soler hit a high fly ball to right fielder Tyler Naquin in the sixth inning, and Naquin lost it in the sun. Soler was able to get to second for a double, even with center fielder Bradley Zimmer hustling over to retrieve the ball.

Fastest pitch: Josh Staumont, 102.2 mph
Staumont didn’t touch 100 mph once in 2019, but in '20, the 27-year-old reliever hit triple digits 36 times. None were faster than his 102.2 mph pitch on Aug. 19, 2020 -- the fastest pitch in Royals’ Statcast history and tied with Jacob deGrom as the fastest pitch in baseball that season. The pitch was a four-seam fastball that landed inside for a ball against the Reds’ Phillip Ervin, but keep reading to find out what Staumont’s next pitch to Ervin that day did.

Fastest strikeout pitch: Josh Staumont and Kelvin Herrera, 102.0 mph
Staumont’s next pitch to Ervin on Aug. 19, 2020, was a four-seamer down the middle at 102 mph, and Ervin foul-tipped it into catcher Meibrys Viloria’s glove for the strikeout. It was the fastest strikeout pitch in the Majors last season and one of five 101-plus strikeouts in '20. His 102-mph strikeout of Ervin tied him with Herrera’s 102-mph strikeout of Cleveland’s Yan Gomes on June 2, 2015. Herrera’s fastball came on an 0-2 count and was called a strike to end the at-bat.

Highest spin on a curve: Jesse Hahn, 3,485 revolutions per minute
Hahn’s knee-buckling curveball became a key piece of the Royals' bullpen in 2020, and the 31-year-old reliever fits into the plans for this season. His signature pitch makes up nine of the top 10 spin rates among Kansas City pitchers since Statcast began tracking the data, and at the top of the list is the curve Hahn threw to the White Sox’s Danny Mendick on Aug., 2020, with a spin rate of 3,485 rpm. Mendick got a piece of it for a foul ball, but it certainly didn’t look like a comfortable swing.