Statcast: Cespedes sets new speed standard on steal
By Paul Casella
Daniel Murphy continued his sizzling play in the 2015 postseason on Tuesday night, contributing to the Mets' 5-2 Game 3 victory over the Cubs with both his power and his speed.
Statcast™ not only tracked Murphy's latest home run, but also his impressive trip around the bases in the seventh inning that led to another Mets run in their Game 3 win in the National League Championship Series. One of Murphy's teammates, meanwhile, also managed to register this season's quickest steal of third base.
As for the American League Championship Series, the Royals' 14-2 offensive outburst was highlighted by a pair of homers, as well as one player's heads-up hustle on the basepaths. From that same game, Statcast™ will also break down the first-ever postseason pitching appearance by a full-time position player.
Here's a closer look at the top plays, courtesy of Statcast™.
Cespedes blazes path to third, scores on wild pitch
Yoenis Cespedes stole third base with ease in the sixth inning, thanks to a blistering max speed of 23.6 mph on the play. That's not only Cespedes' fastest-tracked time on the basepaths this season, but the 2.9 seconds it took him to swipe third base was also the fastest time on a steal of third for any player in the Majors this season.
Cespedes wasn't done yet, later reaching 18.9 mph as he raced home to score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Though his max speed wasn't nearly as fast as it was on his stolen base, Cespedes benefited from taking an 18-foot lead before breaking for the plate.
Murphy's hustle leads to run
Though Murphy has made his mark with his bat this postseason, he also helped manufacture a seventh-inning insurance run with his speed. His trip around the bases began when he beat out an infield single by reaching a max speed of 19.1 mph as he raced down the first-base line in just 4.6 seconds.
That was just the beginning, however, as Murphy then hit 19.1-mph, yet again, as he managed to go from first-to-third when left fielder Kyle Schwarber had trouble corralling a Cespedes line drive. Murphy had to make sure the ball dropped, and he still managed to take the extra base by going from second to third in just 3.9 seconds.
Murphy saved the best for last, though, as he reached a max speed of 19.2 mph, while racing home on a ground ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Murphy went from third to home in 3.5 seconds -- his fastest such time this season -- as he slid in just ahead of the tag to push the Mets' lead to three.
Murphy hits historic homer
Prior to helping produce the aforementioned run with his wheels, Murphy had already hit yet another postseason home run back in the third inning. Murphy, who became the club's all-time postseason home run leader with his sixth slam, registered an exit velocity of 104 mph on an 88-mph pitch from Kyle Hendricks.
The ball traveled a projected 421 feet, marking Murphy's third-longest home run this season. He's now hit two of his five longest home runs of the year during the postseason.
Zobrist ignites Royals offense with homer
Second baseman Ben Zobrist set the tone early for the Royals, crushing a two-run homer off R.A. Dickey in the top of the first. Despite being thrown just a 78-mph pitch from Dickey, Zobrist turned it around at 102.1 mph, and he sent the ball a projected 404 feet into the right-center-field seats.
That projected distance marked Zobrist's second-longest home run since joining the Royals, and his third-longest this season overall. His longest was a 422-foot blast against these same Blue Jays back on Aug. 2. That one came off of reliever Roberto Osuna.
Cain's speed leads to run
Following Zobrist's homer, Lorenzo Cain worked a walk, then immediately went to work on the basepaths. The speedy Royals outfielder took a 15-foot lead before breaking for second base, ultimately needing only 3.5 seconds from Dickey's first move to touching the bag safely.
Cain wasn't done yet, however, as -- after moving to third on a base hit -- Cain reached 19.7 mph as he dashed home on a passed ball, narrowly beating the tag as he slid across the plate to push Kansas City's early lead to 3-0.
Rios clubs first career postseason homer Alex Rios continued the Royals' early onslaught in Game 4, clobbering a home run of his own with one out in the second inning to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Rios turned around an 83-mph offering from Dickey at 103.4 mph, and he sent it a projected 408 feet into the left-center-field seats. Rios only hit one ball farther than 400 feet during the regular season, which came on a 415-foot homer off a 96-mph pitch from Orioles reliever Brad Brach on Sept. 11.
Pennington makes historic pitching appearance
Blue Jays infielder Cliff Pennington made history on Tuesday by becoming the first full-time position player in Major League history to pitch in a postseason game. The utility man entered with the Blue Jays trailing 12-2 in the top of the ninth inning, then promptly delivered a 90.6-mph offering on his first pitch, which went for a called strike fastball to Paulo Orlando.
Pennington registered an extension of 5.75 feet on that toss, but he managed an extension of only 5.3 feet on a 79.4 mph breaking ball on his next pitch. He then went back to the fastball, firing in a 90.4 mph pitch that Orlando lined softly to right field for a base hit.
Pennington ultimately threw seven total pitches to three batters, with his fastest offering of the night coming on a 91.3-mph fastball to Alcides Escobar. Escobar also lined that pitch to right field for a two-run single before Pennington escaped the inning by getting Zobrist to pop out on an 89.8-mph fastball with a spin rate of 2,061 revolutions per minute (RPM), the lowest spin rate of any of the fastballs he threw. Toronto lost, 14-2.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.