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The Rockies’ 2021 exit velocity leaderboard

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

I was shuffling through Baseball Savant looking for something to write about in this week’s Rockpile and folks, I found something. Did you know that Rockies hitters managed a total of 40 batted balls hit at 110 MPH or higher in 2021? Let’s take a look at how they were distributed by player, opponent, month, whatever. Consider this a piece about me having some fun with numbers. Here is the full leaderboard, sorted by exit velocity. If you want to see each event, click on it and Savant has a video for you. I can’t put them up here. Onto the numbers!

The Initial Charts

We said the Rockies managed 40 batted balls hit at 110 MPH or higher, and there’s the distribution. C.J. Cron by himself accounted for exactly half of them, Sam Hilliard had six, and the rest of the guys each had one less than the previous player. The only guy on this list who surprised me a little bit was Connor Joe, who hit three balls 110+ MPH (110.0, 110.3 and 113.3 respectively), but the top names were obvious. In fact, Connor Joe had a higher percentage of batted balls hit 110+ MPH than everyone else aside from Hilliard and Cron:

That’s enough of the picture for now. Let’s do some fun facts about those 40 batted balls, shall we?

Fun Facts

  • The Rockies went 35-for-40 on those 40 events, with 12 singles, 7 doubles, 1 triple and 15 homers. That comes out to a .875/.875/2.225 line, good for an OPS of 3.100. Not too bad!
  • The unlucky souls who made outs on balls hit that hard were C.J. Cron (twice), Connor Joe, and Ryan McMahon (twice). McMahon was the one with the poorest luck, as both of his outs were line drives smacked right at fielders.
  • That one out Connor Joe made was a ball hit 110.3 MPH off the bat... with a launch angle of -13º, hit right into the dirt in front of home plate for an easy 1-3 putout. It was by lowest launch angle of any of the 40 batted balls by a mile.
  • Not only does C.J. Cron dominate the overall leaderboard, he’s in sole posession of the five hardest-hit balls by a Rockies batter in 2021, all 114+ MPH off the bat. Funnily enough, none of them went for home runs, and one was even an out.
  • The Rockies decided to scorch the ball against the two best teams in the NL West a lot more than against the two bad ones. They hit seven and six baseball 110+ MPH off the bat against the Dodgers and Giants respectively.
  • The big month for the Rockies in the “must destroy baseball” department was August, which saw 11 such events:

Now, here’s another question: how did the Rockies compare to the rest of Major League Baseball? We’re about to find out.

The Rockies vs. MLB

Spoiler alert: not great. We know the Rockies hit 40 balls 110+ MPH off the bat. That’s good (bad?) for 24th-most in baseball, with only the poor lineups of the Rangers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Mariners, Dodgers and Giants behind them...

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that correctly. The Dodgers and the Giants, two of the best offenses in baseball in 2021, smacked the cover off the ball less often than the Rockies did. In fact. the Dodgers were third-worst, with just 24 events, and the Giants were dead-last, with just fourteen (14)! Seriously? Yeah!

As you can see, the Yankees and Blue Jays dominate the leaderboard, with Giancarlo Stanton (75), Aaron Judge (57), and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (86) doing a lot of the heavy lifting. The Rockies quite clearly rank towards the bottom, but the Dodgers and Giants also did, so what does that signify? Probably nothing. There are many ways to be a good hitter, and while smacking the ball to the depths of the universe is a reliable one, it’s also not the only one. All the numbers I looked through for this piece lead me to one final conclusion, however: this team needs more power. Get it done, Schmidt!

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The AL Cy Young Award is pretty clearly Robbie Ray’s, as he leads Gerrit Cole in every meaningful stat, but the NL Cy Young is going to be a fascinating race. The per-inning excellence of Corbin Burnes, the insane late-inning run of Max Scherzer, or the extraordinary volume of Zack Wheeler? Personally, I think Wheeler should win it by a mile. I can’t get over the fact that Burnes pitched just 167 innings, which is just not enough from a Cy Young winner for me.

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Thought this was a pretty funny piece: a compilation of what announcers said towards the end of lopsided ballgames. Baseball’s charm comes through once again.

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On The Farm

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We always talk about the Rockies lacking plate discipline, right? Ryan Vilade, Michael Toglia, Ezequiel Tovar and Willie MacIver walked a combined five times in AFL action yesterday. Vilade also stole a base, and the Tovar-Toglia combination was involved in two double plays for the Rafters. Rockies farmhand Matt Dennis got the start and the win, pitching three scoreless innings and giving up just two hits to go along with with three strikeouts and no walks. Rafters pitching dominated, allowing just five baserunners in total in a 5-0 win.

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