Seattle slugger redirects pitch at 119 mph; Nats star's homer tracked at 109.5 mph
By Doug Miller
Who hits the ball the hardest in Major League Baseball? For the first time in history, we might be able to get an answer, and it's thanks to the revolutionary technology of Statcast.
With Tuesday night's showcase game between the Cardinals and Nationals featuring the state-of-the-art Statcast trackers for the first time on television, we can see the St. Louis and Washington sluggers in action and see just how hard they hit the ball based on exit velocity numbers.
Washington outfielder Bryce Harper is a leading contender in this department, and his April 17 homer off Phillies pitcher Sean O'Sullivan's curveball was tracked by Statcast as having an exit velocity of 109.5 mph. That's very high, particularly off a breaking ball, and it led to the ball having a projected distance of 461.2 feet.
But so far, Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz has Harper beat.
Cruz, who led the Majors with 40 homers last year as a member of the Orioles and leads the Majors again for Seattle with eight, entering Tuesday's action, also leads the league in exit velocity so far in 2015. And his hit that set the pace came on a single.
Cruz's blistering walk-off knock in the bottom of the ninth to seal Sunday afternoon's wacky 11-10 win over the Rangers was measured to have a 119-mph exit velocity, which ranked first in the bigs this year among batted balls tracked. Seattle fans are digging Cruz, and so is Statcast.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.