With the introduction of Statcast, we now have a deeper look into the events occurring on the field. All these minute details that were once hidden are now part of the vocabulary of the game. Words like exit velocity, launch angle, and spin rate are now regular points of analysis for any player. And like with any dataset, the outliers are usually the most interesting data points to examine.
Today’s Advent Calendar entry is pretty straightforward. It celebrates a man and his boomstick. Nelson Cruz gave us 43 reasons to celebrate in 2016 but I’m going to pick out just a few.
Let’s go back to one particular series towards the end of the season. Against all odds, the Mariners were clinging on to their playoff hopes with series in Minneapolis looming on the horizon. In the previous six games, Cruz was 3-25 and was struggling through some nerve problems in his left hand. Cruz would end up going 6-12 with four home runs and two doubles during the series against the Twins. Two of those home runs were extreme outliers and they were hit on consecutive days.
That mammoth blast off Tyler Duffey was Cruz’s longest home run of the year and the second longest home run in the majors. He absolutely demolishes a sinker and launches it almost 500 feet into the cool fall air.
The arrow indicates approximately where the ball landed. That’s a couple rows back in the third deck.
The very next day, Cruz would hit two more home runs off of Hector Santiago. His second of the game and fourth of the series would be the fastest home run off Cruz’s bat all year.
After an awkward swing where he aggravated the nerve in his hand, Cruz launched a 114.6 mph missile into the seats on the next pitch.
Just for fun, here’s a nicely compiled video of the Mariners’ five longest home runs in 2016 (spoiler alert: Nelson Cruz is featured prominently with a cameo by Franklin Gutierrez).
We didn’t talk about it above, but the third longest home run of the year hit by Cruz also happened during that series in Minnesota. It was Cruz’s best three game stretch of the year, and maybe even his career. Despite the nerve problem in his hand and the grind of a long season, Cruz managed some incredible feats of strength during these three games. I guess all that’s left to say is, “Boomstick baby!”