Say what? 5 Statcast stunners from 2016

Say what? 5 Statcast stunners from 2016

Statcast™ often serves to highlight accepted truths, providing insight into just how hard Giancarlo Stanton hits the ball or how hard Aroldis Chapman throws it.

But the tracking technology also can illuminate things that aren't so obvious to the naked eye, perhaps bringing appreciation for lesser-known players.

In that spirit, here is a look at five surprising Statcast™ facts from the 2016 season.

1. Rookies were responsible for two of the three longest home runs hit away from Coors Field
The Rangers' Nomar Mazara and the A's Ryon Healy both showed promise in their debuts, including some serious power. Setting aside balls hit in the distance-aiding thin air of Coors Field, only Nelson Cruz (493 feet) launched one farther in '16.

Mazara, who went deep 20 times in his age-21 season, did his greatest damage at Globe Life Park on May 25 with a homer Statcast™ projected at 491 feet. Facing Angels left-hander Hector Santiago, he turned on an inside pitch and blasted it at 107.8 mph, well into the upper deck in right field.

Mazara's long solo blast

Healy didn't debut until July 15, but he made up for lost time by homering 13 times in 72 games. One of those big flies traveled a projected 480 feet, as the third baseman smacked a below-the-zone pitch from the Royals' Edinson Volquez over the fountains beyond the left-field wall at Kauffman Stadium. The 111.6-mph drive led Healy to say, "I don't think I've hit one that far in my life."

2. Mauricio Cabrera is the king of the "Chapman Filter"
When it comes to velocity, Chapman is so far ahead of the rest of the league that MLB.com's Statcast™ leaderboard features a "Chapman Filter" to weed out his fastest pitches. With that function engaged, the man responsible for each of the 37 highest pitch velocities of the season was a Braves rookie right-hander who made 41 relief appearances and turned 23 in September.

Cabrera, signed out of the Dominican Republic by Atlanta in '10, topped out at 103.8 mph and reached the 103 mark eight other times. His 344 pitches of 100-plus mph trailed only Chapman (538) and dwarfed the total of the next closest pitcher, Noah Syndergaard (94). Yet for all that heat, Cabrera struck out a modest 7.5 batters per nine innings, ranking 150th among relievers with at least 35 innings.

3. Nobody barreled up the ball quite like David Wright
For the second straight season, injuries limited Wright to fewer than 40 games. When he was on the field, he didn't put the ball in play much, finishing eighth in the Majors in walk rate (15.9 percent) and 13th in strikeout rate (33.5 percent) among players with 150 plate appearances.

But when Wright did get the bat on the ball, he frequently hit it with authority. Of his 74 batted balls, Statcast™ classified 20.1 percent as barrels, based on their combination of exit velocity and launch angle. That ranked first among all players who put at least 50 balls in play, ahead of Yankees rookie sensation Gary Sanchez (18.8 percent). It's a number that could bode well for Wright's 2017 campaign -- health permitting.

Statcast: Wright's 424-ft HR

4. Nobody was barreled up less often than Blaine Boyer
Boyer is currently a free agent after spending '16 with the Brewers, and while the 35-year-old right-hander has had a journeyman's career, he has an impressive feat to point to in his job search. Out of 265 pitchers who had at least 150 balls put in play against them, Boyer allowed the lowest rate of barrels (1.0 percent), on the strength of an average 86.2 mph exit velocity that ranked 11th.

That avoidance of solid contact is how a pitcher with a fastball averaging less than 93 mph and with MLB's lowest strikeout rate (minimum 40 innings) managed to survive in the big leagues. Boyer posted a 3.95 ERA across 66 innings, with only 26 Ks.

Boyer ends the scoring threat

5. A 28-year-old Padres rookie hit the ball higher, and farther, than anyone
Ryan Schimpf, drafted by the Blue Jays in '09, finally broke in with San Diego on June 14, more than two months after his 28th birthday. From then on, the lefty-hitting second baseman let loose with a swing that generated an average launch angle of nearly 28 degrees. That was 5 degrees higher than any other hitter (minimum 100 batted balls).

Thanks to all of those fly balls -- 20 of which turned into home runs -- Schimpf's average ball in play carried a whopping 266 feet. The Rockies' Trevor Story, who played at Coors Field rather than Petco Park, was closest at 256 feet. After finishing with a .533 slugging percentage over 89 games, Schimpf will be a player to watch as Statcast™ enters its third season in '17.

Schimpf's 456-foot homer

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.