By Jon Weisman
Just how strong is Yasiel Puig’s arm?
This week at MLB.com, MLB Statcast analyst Mike Petriello wrote about the top outfield arms in baseball. His methodology in brief appears at the end of this post. I followed up by asking Statcast for some numbers specific to the Dodgers, and here’s what I got:
- 96.0 mph — Yasiel Puig
- 90.8 mph — Joc Pederson
- 90.5 mph — Scott Van Slyke
- 88.5 mph — Alex Guerrero
- 88.2 mph — Kiké Hernandez
- 87.7 mph — Andre Ethier
- 79.7 mph — Carl Crawford
Puig was 2.6 mph behind Houston’s Jake Marsinick, the top outfield arm in the Majors. Here’s a 99.4 mph throw that Puig made at Houston in August:
[mlbvideo id=”404268183″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
We need to make sure that’s known right up front, because it’s surprising how much explanation needs to go into something that seems as simple as measuring throwing velocity. The best thing about Statcast™ is that it measures everything, the worst thing about Statcast™ is that it measures everything. For example, Mike Trout had a few hundred tracked throws in 2015. But many of them weren’t really relevant; to pick one at random, on June 1 against the Rays, he collected a sixth-inning Rene Rivera single with the bases empty and lobbed it back in at 44.6 mph. Think about how many times that happens over the course of a season.
So to overcome that, we had to come up with a way to track only serious, competitive throws. Instead of putting a one-size-fits-all minimum threshold, we decided to individualize it a little better. Here’s what we went with:
1. Identify a player’s 90th percentile arm strength.
2. Take the average of all throws above the 90th percentile.