Cruz, Twins setting AL pace in average exit velocity
You can’t hit a league-leading 147 “bombas” without absolutely pounding the ball.
So, it should come as no surprise to note the Minnesota Twins also top the American League in highest average exit velocity -- the measure of the speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat on all batted balls in play (outs, hits and errors).
Minnesota is tied for first with the New York Yankees with an average batted ball measured at 90.6 miles per hour, ahead of other slugging teams like Boston (90.5), Texas (90.1) and Tampa Bay (90.0), the latter which visits Target Field for a three-game series beginning Tuesday night.
The top contributor of Minnesota’s hard-hit balls has earned the nickname “Boomstick” for a reason.
Nelson Cruz owns the best average exit velocity on the Twins and ranks seventh in the AL at 94.0 miles per hour. He’s also responsible for two of the Twins’ top four recorded exit velocities this season -- 115.5 (double off Houston’s Brad Peacock on May 2) and 115.2 (ground out against Houston’s Gerrit Cole on April 30).
First baseman C.J. Cron has the team’s other top two individual marks -- 115.1 (homer off Detroit’s Gregory Soto on May 11) and 114.7 (fly out against Kansas City’s Homer Bailey on June 23).
But overall, outfielder Max Kepler (92.4) and third baseman Miguel Sano (92.4) round out the Twins’ top three hitters based on average exit velocity.
At first glance, it looks like the “Bomba Squad” could be slowed by Tampa Bay this week. The Rays boast the reigning Cy Young award winner in Blake Snell, who gets the start in Tuesday’s series-opener at Target Field.
But Snell has struggled of late.
The left-hander is coming off a disastrous outing against the Yankees last Wednesday when he recorded just one out and allowed six runs on two hits and four walks. In four June starts, Snell has posted a 10.29 ERA (16 earned runs in 14 innings) with 11 walks and just 18 strikeouts.
And as a team, the Twins have hit well against southpaws, as they’ve notched the AL’s second-best OPS against left-handed pitchers this season (.873).
Snell better find his stuff again quickly, or the Twins are going to add to those league-leading velocity numbers.
-- Since 2015, the Twins own a 15-15 record against Tampa Bay. Minnesota has scored 5.4 runs per game over that span while the Rays have averaged 6.3 runs per contest.
-- Minnesota’s starting staff has the American League’s second-best ERA at 3.72, bested only by Tampa Bay’s mark of 2.88.
-- Minnesota starting pitcher Kyle Gibson throws his two-seam fastball 33.6% of the time, which ranks fourth in the AL.
-- Tampa Bay outfielder Tommy Pham, who hits second in the Rays’ order, has the lowest chase rate (or in other words, swinging at pitches outside the strike zone) at 15.1%. For reference, the average chase rate for an AL hitter is 27.8%.
-- The Twins have two players rank in the top 10 in home run percentage. Outfielder Eddie Rosario comes in at fifth with homers in 6.3% of his plate appearances, while Max Kepler ranks eighth at 6.1%.
Statistics courtesy Sportradar, MLB Statcast