Grounders, pop-ups, line drives, bunts – the weapons of choice for a player at bat. The batter’s decision of which strategy to use is based upon multiple factors: pitch count, men on base, and the pitcher on the mound.
The American League is special because it uses the designated hitter rule. This rule was adopted into the league in 1973, and has remained in place since. Simply, the rule details that alternate players are allowed to bat for the starting pitchers on their team. If an American League team is playing against a team in a National League stadium, then both pitchers must bat – no exceptions.
We took a look at the top stats of all current American League batters, data courtesy of StatCast, to see which players are crushin’ balls out of the park! Read on to see which batter’s are droppin’ the jaws of teammates and fans, alike
Hey Batta Batta, Hey Batta Batta
To the surprise of many, American League batters are hitting balls on average a few notches below those of their National League counterparts. Within recent seasons, the Houston Astros have acquired two heavy-hitters – George Springer and Carlos Correa. Springer has been playing for the Astros since being picked up in the first round (11th pick) in the 2011 amateur draft. The Giancarlo Stanton of the American League, Springer has been noted for hitting the hardest double (115.5 mph) and home run (115.9 mph)! Correa on the other hand, was recently picked up during the 2012 amateur draft and just debuted in his first performance on June 8, 2015. The radars tell us that Correa is responsible for hitting the hardest field out at 118.2 mph!
Former Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Khris Davis slammed the hardest single around at a whopping 115.9 mph – a tad bit quicker than Springer’s record double hit. The Oakland Athletics signed Davis for a one-year contract during the 2016 season. Since signing, Davis has been viewed as a bright spot on the teams current lineup.
Players on the field must prepare themselves for a few types of batted balls – grounders, line drives, and fly balls. When hit below 10 degrees, a ball is considered a grounder. Miguel Cabrera, infielder for the Detroit Tigers, nails ground balls on average at 93.4 mph (9.6 angle).
An efficient, play-making line drive must be hit at an angle between 10 and 25 degrees, while an official fly ball is struck between 25 and 50 degrees. Seattle Mariners catcher Chris Iannetta pumps out the hardest line drives (109.3 mph at a 24.7 angle) and slams fly balls as hard as he can (105.9 mph at a 30.9 angle) – despite his already heavy workload. Iannetta recently caught for 13 innings straight, and started in the following game just a day later.
All the Way Up
When attending a ball game, all fans look forward to catching a game winning home run ball. Nomar Mazara, rightfielder for the Texas Rangers, makes that dream a reality by constantly smackin’ balls into the stands. Mazara currently holds this season’s American League record of farthest home run hit, sending that sucker a mind-blowing 491 feet! Debuting in 2015 and considered to be one of the best baseball prospects of all time, Miguel Sano serves as a designated hitter and outfielder for the Minnesota Twins. In doing so, Sano has set the record for highest flyer in the American League with a height of 117.3 feet.
American League batters make up some of the hardest hitters in the world. There is little doubt that these numbers will only get higher in the next couple of years. Top prospects are entering the league with skillsets that no one has seen before, and they sure are putting them to use!
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