Giancarlo Stanton Tops MLB Bat Speed Rankings

A statistical revolution reshapes Major League Baseball

by Abdullah Magsi
Giancarlo Stanton Tops MLB Bat Speed Rankings
© Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton may have seen his overall performance decline some over the last few seasons, but he remains a force at the plate. Standing at a strapping 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, Stanton has been known for his explosive batting style, a fact now underlined by the latest analytical advancements by Major League Baseball.

This week, the Baseball Savant website from MLB unleashed a collection of brand-new, state-of-the-art metrics, engineered to quantify the skills that put top hitters like Stanton in the pantheon. At the forefront of these metrics is the average bat speed, where Stanton leads with a striking 80.6 mph as his bat barrel cuts through the strike zone.

This figure significantly outpaces that of his closest competitor, Pittsburgh's Oneil Cruz, who records a bat speed of 77.7 mph. Moreover, Stanton's prowess is further highlighted by his 98.4% fast swing percentage. This metric evaluates swings exceeding 75 mph, showcasing his consistent ability to generate powerful swings.

By comparison, the average speed for MLB swings hovers around 72 mph.

Exploring MLB's New Metrics

MLB has introduced a total of six new categories, with five dedicated to batting statistics such as average bat speed, fast swing rate, squared up rate, blast frequency, and swing length.

For the statistically minded, these metrics offer a deep dive into the mechanics and effectiveness of MLB hitters. Taking a closer look, the squared-up rate metric combines a batter's speed with the pitcher's velocity to estimate potential exit velocities.

For instance, a swing by Trevor Larnach of the Minnesota Twins, which clocked in at 75.6 mph against a 98.8 mph fastball, resulted in a 110 mph exit speed from the bat, achieving a nearly perfect squared-up rate of 97%. Not to be overshadowed, contact specialist Luis Arraez leads the squared-up category, making solid contact 43.5% of the time, a significant lead over others like Angels’ first baseman Nolan Schaunel.

On the pitching side, the lone new metric titled ‘Swords,’ adds a lighter note, measuring the frequency with which pitchers induce awkward swings, or ‘swords,’ from batters. Notably, Chris Sale of the Atlanta Braves and Luis Severino of the New York Mets are tied for the lead in this playful yet telling category.

As MLB continues to enhance its analytical tools, players and fans alike gain a richer, more precise understanding of what makes the game's best performers excel. Stanton, with his unmatched bat speed and ferocity at the plate, perfectly exemplifies the power of these new insights into baseball’s intricate dynamics.