KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You know the adage that sometimes even the hardest-thrown fastballs, when hit squarely, come back at you twice as fast.
Well, that’s not exactly true, and now FoxTrax, using data from Sportvision, can prove it.
FoxTrax, which already tracks pitch location and velocity, now can determine the speed at which balls leave the bat.
Marlins slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, whom Royals fans have been drooling about every time a trade rumor surfaces, is the undisputed king of sizzling line drives. But the actual speed of Stanton’s hardest-hit balls may surprise you.
Stanton has the two hardest-hit balls of anyone this season — a single and a double-play grounder — both of which left his bat at 114 mph.
The league average for hit speed on balls in play is just 77 mph.
Royals fans also are probably curious how fast the Eric Hosmer laser was traveling when it hit Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb during the last road trip. The hit speed on Hosmer’s ball was 102.4 mph.
Cobb, by the way, has recovered from the horrifying injury — he was hit above the ear — though it is still undetermined when he will return to the mound for the Rays.
“That was such a scary moment,” Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre says, “but I’m guessing most people would have thought that line drive was going even faster than that. It tells you how little reaction time there is for a ball going that fast.”
That Stanton is at the top of the list of hardest-hit balls this season probably isn’t surprising. Power hitters dominate the top 10 list in all three categories of hit speed — homers, safe hits, and balls in play.
The hardest-hit home run this year — a rocket to left that traveled at 112 mph — came off the bat of the Angels’ Mark Trumbo against Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez on May 3.
Texas’ Nelson Cruz and Seattle’s Michael Morse had the next hardest-hit homers at 111 mph. Also on the top 10 list of hardest-hit homers were Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez and Atlanta’s Justin Upton, both at 110 mph.
Stanton had four of the top 10 hardest-hit balls that went for hits, including his 114-mph single on April 25 off Cubs right-hander Edwin Jackson.
“It’s always the big-time power hitters who have the bat speed,” Lefebvre says. “This doesn’t measure bat speed per se, but it certainly is a reflection of that.
“If you look at those guys on the list, they are the guys with incredible bat speed. My dad (former manager Jim Lefebvre) was very fascinated by bat speed and used to say that Gary Sheffield and Jose Canseco used to have the best bat speed he’d seen.
“I’d like to know what their hit speed would have been.”
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at email@example.com.