We are going to wrap up our Statcast series with a look at one of the newest metrics available. The transition to Hawk-Eye in 2020 has allowed the measurement of arm strength. MLB.com’s Mike Petriello announced the inclusion of arm strength leaderboards for all positions at Baseball Savant at the end of September. There is a lot of good information in his article including an idea of what to actually make of this data.
Below I am going to take a look at some things I found interesting when looking at the Braves’ list. It is important to point out that having a stronger arm doesn’t actually mean you are guaranteed good results. In that term, it is kind of like a pitcher that can throw 100 mph, with no command. Still it is an interesting look at a new metric that I am sure will improve over time.
Braves outfield in good shape
The first thing that jumps out is what you would expect, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Michael Harris II both rate out highly for their position. Acuña in fact is No. 1 overall for outfielders 97.9 mph with a max of 101.5 mph. Harris comes in eighth among centerfielders at 93.2 mph with a max of 100.0 mph. I suspect that if there were a way to measure accuracy along with arm strength, that Harris would likely be even closer to the top.
The leaderboard also confirms what you would expect in regards to Marcell Ozuna. The average outfield throw from Ozuna was 79.2 mph and his max was 83.6 which ranks 154th out of 155 qualified players. Only Corey Dickerson has a worse mark averaging 76.6 mph.
Others, including Adam Duvall, Robbie Grossman, Eddie Rosario and Guillermo Heredia in a smaller sample grade out average to above average.
Infield mixed signals
The measurements for the infielders isn’t quite as cut and dry. Let’s start at shortstop where Dansby Swanson in my mind an good defender. That isn’t because of his arm strength, but his good first step, range and overall athletic ability. It is no surprise that Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz (93.9 mph) tops the shortstop leaderboard by a wide margin. Out of 50 shortstops who made at least 100 throws, Swanson comes in at No. 48 averaging 79.2 mph with a max of 87.0 mph.
Austin Riley’s 83.7 mph average comes in slightly below average for third baseman. Orlando Arcia averaged 83.2 mph which is above average for second baseman who tend to have shorter throws. I would suspect that his number would go up had he spent more time at shortstop or third base.
Vaughn Grissom (77.2 mph) and Ozzie Albies (75.2 mph) are both well below the league average of 81.0 mph for second baseman. For Albies that isn’t terribly surprising as his range is his best defensive trait. Grissom, who has played more on the left side of the infield during his time in the minors, would likely see his arm number improve with a move off second.
There are no real takeaways here as mentioned above, arm strength is just one of many factors that goes into a players’ overall defensive profile. It is however interesting to take a look at the leaderboards to see where guys pop up. Acuña’s overall play in the outfield this season wasn’t as good as what we saw pre-injury, but these arm strength numbers show that at least one tool is still there. It is no surprise at all with Harris who could be looking at a long string of Gold Gloves in his future. They also confirm what we already knew in that Ozuna has no business seeing time in any outfield at this point in his career.