BALTIMORE -- We're just two games into the League Championship Series, and this has already been a postseason to remember. And thanks to Statcast, a new tracking technology that measures player movement all over the field, we have access to player data that we never had before, and it's changing the way we've been able to analyze this memorable October. Here's a breakdown of the best of Statcast thus far during the 2014 LCS.
How do you control the Royals' relentless running game? That was a big question facing the Orioles heading into the American League Championship Series, and although Buck Showalter's team has fallen into an 0-2 hole after Saturday's 6-4 loss at Camden Yards, it has succeeded in stifling one of Kansas City's primary thieves.
The Royals have ranked first in the Majors in steals for two straight years, and Jarrod Dyson has led the club both times, despite his status as a part-time player. Counting the postseason, Dyson entered this series 121-for-141 (85.8 percent) as a basestealer in his career, including 71-for-84 (84.5 percent) over the past two seasons. Yet he is now 0-for-2 against Baltimore, marking only the second time he's been caught in consecutive games.
In both cases, Dyson replaced Nori Aoki as a pinch-runner at first base in the seventh inning. On Friday, Statcast showed him taking a lead of 11 feet, 8 inches against right-hander Kevin Gausman, who fired a 99.6-mph fastball. Dyson took his first step in 0.27 seconds and accelerated to a top speed of 20.1 mph in 2.2 seconds. He slid in ahead of a 70.1 mph throw from catcher Nick Hundley, whose "pop time" -- measured here as the time between catching the ball and releasing it -- was 0.72 seconds. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop scooped a low throw, then kept his tag on Dyson's left leg as he appeared to push it off the base. Dyson was called out.
No such tactics were necessary on Saturday, with Caleb Joseph catching lefty Andrew Miller. This time, Dyson accelerated a little slower (2.47) but took a slightly bigger lead (12 feet) and reached a higher top speed (22.3 mph). Although Miller's pitch, at 95.9 mph, was a little slower than Gausman's, it also was above the strike zone, giving Joseph a good opportunity to throw. Joseph, who threw out 40 percent of attempted basestealers this year, beat his teammate Hundley in both pop time (0.62 seconds) and throw velocity (72.5 mph), with a strike that hit shortstop J.J. Hardy perfectly, on the first-base side of the bag. Hardy put the tag down on Dyson's left shoulder just before he reached the base.
ALCS Game 2:Cain races home from second
With no score in the first inning, Aoki stood at third and Lorenzo Cain at second with one out when Eric Hosmer hit a blooper that dropped over Hardy's head, into shallow left field. Statcast shows that Cain took a 19-foot lead off second, went about halfway, then shifted into high gear once he saw Hardy couldn't make the play. The fleet-footed outfielder accelerated to top speed in 1.92 seconds, reaching 20.5 mph as he flew the last 90 feet and slid home ahead of Joseph's tag.
ALCS Game 2:Cain takes another extra base
Cain was at it again in the third. After his two-out single, Hosmer lined another hit to left that short-hopped De Aza and bounced away to his left. As De Aza went after the ball, Cain never hesitated. He easily flew around to third base, getting up to 19.7 mph in 1.51 seconds. He might have even scored on the play, but slammed on the breaks as he got the stop sign from his third base coach.
ALCS Game 2:Cain swipes a bag
After his third hit, in the fifth inning, Cain's legs carried him into scoring position again. Reliever Brad Brach, pitching out of the stretch, paid close attention to Cain with a pair of pick-off throws as Hosmer worked the count to 3-0. The Royals hadn't attempted a steal on that count all season, but this time Cain took a 12-foot lead and broke for second on a 94-mph fastball that went for strike one. Accelerating in 2.11 seconds, Cain reached 20.4 mph and slid in ahead of Joseph's throw, which bounced off Hardy's glove.
ALCS Game 2:De Aza shows off his wheels as he legs out a double
The Orioles needed a spark in the third inning on Saturday, trailing the Royals, 3-1, and Alejandro De Aza provided it. He ripped a one-out double to right field off Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura, setting up Adam Jones' game-tying two-run homer. The left-handed hitter pulled a hard ground ball past diving first baseman Hosmer and down the line, accelerating to his top speed in 2.76 seconds as he approached first. De Aza moved as fast as 19.2 mph on the play.
ALCS Game 2: Cain sprints, lays out to rob Hardy
Cain tormented the Orioles defensively as well. Hardy led off the sixth inning with a drive that traveled about 350 feet into the right-center-field gap off Yordano Ventura. It looked like an extra-base hit off the bat, but Cain had other ideas. From his position in center, he took his first step toward the ball in less than a quarter of a second, accelerating to a maximum speed of 21.2 mph in 3.74 seconds. But to make the play, Cain needed more than pure speed. Statcast measured his route efficiency at 99.7 percent, meaning he traversed a nearly optimal path from his original location to the spot where he dove to snag Hardy's shot. That allowed his long strides to cover 82 feet of outfield in only 3.65 seconds.
ALCS Game 2:Gore shows off his wheels
Gore was on second with one out in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game. And because so much speed represented the go-ahead run in such a crucial juncture, Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop had to watch Gore closely at second, which meant first baseman Steve Pearce had to shade well off first base, which opened up a gaping hole down the right-field line for the right-handed-hitting Alcides Escobar, who doubled home Gore to put the Royals ahead for good