Taking a look at some of the top Detroit Tigers Statcast performances this year.
Earlier this week the good folks at MLB.com published a piece about the most spectacular Statcast plays for each team in 2020. We thought we’d piggyback on that idea and give Detroit Tigers fans a deeper look at performances by their team.
For those unfamiliar with Statcast, it is a suite of statistics Major League Baseball began generating and sharing after adding high-speed cameras to all 30 stadiums in 2015. The stats are generally related to physical performance — how hard a ball was hit, how fast a player ran, how much a pitch moved — and most of them are housed at Baseball Savant.
Statcast numbers require some explanation and context, but then so do all baseball statistics. No one is born understanding what an RBI or a Save is. We’ll do our best to explain what makes the following numbers interesting. Now, on to the show!
Detroit Tigers Exit Velocity
Hardest Hit Ball
Jonathan Schoop – 114.4 mph single
Jonathan Schoop can claim the four hardest hit balls by a Detroit Tigers hitter last season, and all four are included in the reel above. Exit velocity on its own isn’t all that exciting to watch, as you might have noticed in the clip package. Schoop’s sharp single and double aren’t nearly as cool as his majestic blast against Cleveland, or his frozen rope of a homer against the Twins.
But make no mistake, hitting the ball hard is a skill. Players can cue a weak grounder through the infield, or hit a check-swing bloop into the outfield grass, but no one accidentally hits the ball 114 mph. That takes a lot of talent and bat speed, and Schoop’s 114.4-mph single was actually tied for the 4th hardest hit ball by a Detroit Tigers hitter in the Statcast era, behind a pair of Miguel Cabrera singles, and a J.D. Martinez liner to center.
Weakest Hit Ball
Jeimer Candelario – 24.6 mph groundout
We can’t really appreciate how special it is to see a ball hit 110+ mph without looking at the opposite end of the spectrum. Candelario’s check-swing grounder was the only ball a Detroit Tigers batter hit under 30 mph last season, and just the 15th such ball in play for the Tigers since 2015. The weakest ball in play in the Statcast era is this 7.6 mph rocket from Willi Castro in 2019.
But weakly hit outs aren’t all that fun. What we really want are those poorly hit balls that nevertheless turned into hits, and that’s what you see in the reel after Candelario’s groundout. There’s a 39.3 mph bunt single from Victor Reyes, and a pair of line huggers from Christin Stewart and Willi Castro at 43.3 mph and 45.0 mph, respectively.