13 May

swift swingers

For what it’s worth, Brent Rooker ranks 48th among major league hitters in average bat speed, a new stat made available Sunday from Statcast that “measures how fast the sweet spot of the bat is moving at the point of contact with the baseball.” Giancarlo Stanton — no big surprise — tops this list at 80.6 mph. Ex-Mississippi State star Rooker’s number is 73.8. For what it’s worth, Rooker’s average bat speed has been producing high-quality results of late: The Oakland A’s DH is hitting .400 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 15 games. He hit his 10th bomb of the year in a Sunday loss and now has 50 homers in his MLB career. His season batting average is up to .292, and he has 27 RBIs for an Oakland team that has exceeded expectations. Of course, a swift swing doesn’t necessarily correlate with good hitting. (Stanton is batting .230 with eight homers and has fanned 50 times in 135 at-bats.) There is something to be said for just making consistent contact. Jordan Westburg, another former State standout, ranks 147th in average bat speed with a 70.8. He has produced a .304 average, six homers and 27 RBIs for the Baltimore Orioles. The top average bat speed among Mississippians in the majors belongs to Austin Riley (75.0), who is off to a lackluster start with Atlanta. Hunter Renfroe, No. 2 at 74.4, is off to a poor start in Kansas City.

27 Jul

‘absolutely annihilated’

If you were watching, this might seem hard to believe: According to Statcast, Austin Riley’s home run on Sunday night was just the fifth-longest by an Atlanta player since this type of data began to be collected in 2015. Former DeSoto Central star Riley’s blast, part of the Braves’ 17-hit assault in a 14-1 win against the New York Mets, was measured at 458 feet. That’s 8 feet shorter than the Braves’ best, per Statcast, a 466-footer by Ronald Acuna on May 10, 2019. Freddie Freeman has a 464-footer, Acuna a 463 and Freeman a 460. Though somehow short of the team record, Riley’s majestic homer, which struck a façade on one of CitiField’s upper decks while still rising, will no doubt stick in the memory of Braves fans. “This ball was absolutely annihilated,” said ex-Braves star Chipper Jones, who was part of the ESPN broadcast team. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Riley, only 23, now has 19 homers in 284 big league at-bats, plus 86 bombs over parts of five minor league seasons. Yes, he needs to make more consistent contact (.225 average), but when he does barrel one up, take cover. “My God, that’s a big strong kid,” Braves manager Brian Snitker told mlb.com.