With the San Francisco Giants’ season now concluded, revisit the 10 hardest-hit balls (plus a couple extras) by the Giants from the 2016 season
Statcast has become a hot topic in baseball, and it can track almost anything. Exact pitch velocities, more accurate distances, launch angles, spin rates, it’s enough to make someone’s head spin more than a Clayton Kershaw curveball. But one of the more fun statistics to track is exit velocities, so I went back and found the 10 hardest-hit balls of the past season by the San Francisco Giants (plus a couple of honorable mentions).
All pitch and exit velocities courtesy of baseballsavant.
Honorable Mention #1 – Postseason: Denard Span (October 11th)
Exit velocity of 108.02 mph on 91.49 mph fastball from John Lackey
Span really started to lock in during the Giants’ brief run through the postseason. He came up with the hardest-hit ball of the postseason in game four of the NLDS, scorching a Lackey heater down the right-field line for a leadoff double in the first inning. Lackey came into Span’s hot zone, down around the knees and on the inside part of the plate, and paid for it. Span scored after two flyballs to give the Giants an early lead. It was Span’s third-best hit ball of the year.
But let’s stop talking about that game now.
Honorable Mention #2 – Hardest Home Run: Mac Williamson (July 2nd)
Exit Velocity of 111.28 mph on 91.53 mph fastball from Patrick Corbin
Get used to seeing Williamson’s name here, because he hits the ball really, really hard. Williamson is a large man, and he swings the bat like a large man.
Williamson was mostly playing against left-handers by this point in the season, and he got the start against Corbin on July 2nd. When Corbin threw a low fastball, Williamson went down and got it. As soon as it left the bat, everyone knew that this one was long gone. Corbin walked off the mound and waited a couple seconds before turning to see where it would land. He got a nice view as it clanked high off the scoreboard in center field.
The 460-foot moonshot was the longest home run hit by a Giant this year, and also had the highest exit velocity. It just missed cracking this list, as it was the 12th-hardest hit ball over all, but it still seemed worth a shout. It also gave us this fantastic call from Duane Kuiper.
#10 – Mac Williamson (September 25th)
Exit Velocity of 111.79 mph on 89.91 mph fastball from Clayton Richard.
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Williamson was basically relegated to pinch-hitting duty this late in the year, and it wasn’t exactly going well. He was 0-13 with eight strikeouts in September, but he was called upon against Richard in the fifth inning. In a 1-0 count, Williamson smoked a low fastball towards short at 111.79 mph, and that velocity nearly cost him a hit.
Padres’ shortstop Adam Rosales made a diving stop to his left and snagged the ball, but couldn’t get it out of his glove cleanly. By the time he got the throw off, the big guy had gotten to first safely for what turned out to be his only hit of the month. It was his final at-bat of the regular season.
#8 (tie) – Jarrett Parker (May 29th)
Exit Velocity of 111.99 mph on 93.56 mph fastball from Justin Miller
Parker came off the bench as a pinch-hitter during the ninth inning in this game, and didn’t wait around. Miller’s first-pitch, get-it-in fastball was absolutely tattooed right to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. The ball was hit so hard that the one-hopper knocked LeMahieu right on to his backside, but he was able to start a 4-6-3 double play that ended the inning. Sometimes that’s the downside of hitting a ball right on the nose.
#8 (tie) – Hunter Pence (April 29th)
Exit Velocity of 111.99 mph on 93.58 mph fastball from Steven Matz
With runners on first and second and two outs in the first inning, Pence did exactly what he should have done. He hit a ball extremely hard. The center-cut fastball was scalded on the ground at just a tick under 112 mph, but it went right to Mets’ shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera for the inning-ending groundout. Not much a hitter can do about a ball like that.
#7 – Mac Williamson (July 6th)
Exit Velocity of 112.32 mph on 90.32 mph fastball from Jorge De La Rosa
It was right about this time of the year that Williamson was really dialing in, as outfield injuries opened more consistent playing time for the rookie. It seemed like every time he made contact, it was a hard hit ball somewhere. De La Rosa made it easy for Williamson when he threw a 2-0 fastball right down the fat part of the plate. He ripped it down the line for a double, hitting it so hard that not even Nolan Arenado had a chance to get over and cut it off.
#6 – Hunter Pence (May 28th)
Exit Velocity of 113.27 mph on 83.38 mph slider from Jorge De La Rosa
Pence makes his second appearance on this list, as does De La Rosa. This time, De La Rosa threw a looping slider over the middle of the plate, and Pence crushed a low liner into left field. It looked like a ball that left fielder Ryan Raburn could have made a play on, but it was hit so hard that he barely had a chance to move before it landed in front of him. Instead, he had to take a wicked bounce off of his leg. Pence probably left a gnarly bruise on the ball, and the ball probably left a gnarly bruise on Raburn. It’s a vicious cycle.
#5 – Hunter Pence (September 22nd)
Exit Velocity of 113.67 mph on 93.80 mph fastball from Brad Hand
Making his third and final appearance on this list is Pence, coming in with the only run-scoring hit of the 10. This came off the heels of a ridiculous hot streak for Pence, where he hit .465 in 11 games from September 2nd to the 17th. With the Giants ahead by a run, Pence took it upon himself to widen that gap just a smidge. Hand let a 1-0 fastball run in a bit on Pence, and the hitter turned on it and ripped it down the line. Somehow, it didn’t hook foul and instead turned into run-scoring double. That insurance run was huge, as the Giants went on to win 2-1.
#4 – Jarrett Parker (June 1st)
Exit Velocity of 114.06 mph on 89.58 mph sinker from Williams Perez
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This was a pretty bad day for the Giants. Pence suffered a torn hamstring that would cost him nearly two months, and the Giants lost on an 11th-inning walk off by Freddie Freeman. But Parker had a loud hit that didn’t really do anything to quell the woes. Perez fell behind the slugger 2-0, and came in with a sinker. The pitch started on the inner part of the plate and tailed away, right into the barrel of Parker’s bat. He sent a screaming liner up the middle for a base hit.
#3 – Mac Williamson (June 12th)
Exit Velocity of 114.58 mph on 93.57 mph fastball from Julio Urias
In the bottom of the fifth in a scoreless game, Williamson led off against the 19-year-old Urias. The youngster threw a 2-2 fastball below the strikezone, and Williamson put a good hack on it. He scorched it into left field, and the only thing that kept Williamson from a double was a tremendous running, leaping grab by Howie Kendrick. This was right about at the beginning of Williamson settling in to his role as a big leaguer.
#2 – Mac Williamson (June 22nd)
Exit Velocity of 114.81 mph on 84.88 mph slider from Francisco Liriano
This was a banner day for the struggling young outfielder. He entered with a .161/.188/.290 slash-line, and exactly zero walks in 66 career plate appearances. But in the first inning, he picked up a hit, the first of four times he would reach base that day. In a 2-1 count, Liriano threw a good slider down below the zone (see a pattern with Williamson?). The powerful kid hung with it and yanked it towards third base, where Jung-ho Kang had no time to react and get into place. His dive attempt was futile, and Williamson was aboard.
Besides the hit, Williamson took his first career walk on June 22nd. He also took his second and third. It was the actual beginning of a nice streak for Williamson.
#1 – Mac Williamson (July 3rd)
Exit Velocity of 116.81 mph on 95.86 mph fastball from Jake Barrett
Well, this is a bit anticlimactic. The Giants’ hardest-hit ball came from a likely source, but didn’t result in a hit. Williamson saw just one fastball close to the zone from Barrett, but he didn’t waste it. Instead, he absolutely crushed the fastball down around the knees, but it was an at ’em ball. Left fielder Brandon Drury barely had to move to his right to make the catch. The young man’s frustrations after the out makes for a pretty good reaction .gif.
It’s no surprise that the highest exit velocity came from Williamson, as he led the team in average exit velocity at 93.1 mph (Madison Bumgarner was second(!) at 92.4). This one came off the bat a full two miles per hour faster than any other hit. Only 26 balls were hit harder in 2016, 10 of which came from the game’s premier power hitter, Giancarlo Stanton.