I came across this stat earlier today which I found pretty remarkable:
The Rays had allowed 144 FBs 16 H, 14 HR, 2B, 1B 2/130 BIP failed to be caught Good for a 0.015 BABIP
Naturally, I was skeptical. I mean surely, more than 2 fly balls have fallen for hits. I went to the incomparable Baseball Savant and pulled every ball hit against the Rays pitchers. Then I filtered down to what they have labeled as fly balls. This is a work in progress, but I’m mostly able to show where these balls have been hit using their data:
Here’s just the fly balls. The lines are an approximation. The two balls that were labeled doubles have been highlighted in green. I’ve labeled all the home runs in black, except Alex Rodriguez’s bomb to deeeep CF. Look how freaking far he hit that. Before moving on to video of those I wanted to show the only other fly ball that was labeled as a hit.
Obviously, that isn’t a fly ball. Maybe that colors your opinion, but I’d rather be open that this stuff does have flaws even it’s pretty dang good.
Here’s the first double from the young stick Devon Travis.
Here’s the other double as Josh Donaldson took an injured Jeff Beliveau to the wall.
AND THAT IS IT! Everything else on that map is an out or one of the 14 homers, which just strikes me as a ton of ground being utterly blanketed. Notice that it’s not just side to side coverage, but also front to back. The Rays outfield so far this year has been one heck of a net. If they can keep defending this well as the pitching gets better then you’re really going to see serious run prevention. It’s about to get fun, Rays fans. Just for funsies here’s a look at each of the pitchers still in play:
Karns and Odorizzi have allowed the most , but they don’t have the highest percentage of balls in play as fly balls. That goes to Ernesto Frieri. Here this may help:
Odorizzi has done a good job to bring his percentage down to close to the team average, but with so many total balls in play he’s still tied for the team lead in total number of flies with Nathan Karns. The other end of the list shows a bit of a silver lining to the Erasmo Experience. Dude keeps the ball out of the air when he’s not walking batters. Archie and Geltz do a good job of keeping it down too and I know we’re going to see Dominguez again, because I couldn’t help but be impressed as he worked to command some pretty good stuff.
Before I go I wanted to also show the guys doing all the work out there. Here’s each player’s defensive spray chart according to Inside Edge:
I mean, I can’t, it’s just, I mean. Ridiculous. These are going to include line drives too and that’s mostly what has fallen in other than what I previously highlighted. They get basically everything that you’re supposed to and just about everything else, as well. We’re going to continue to see fly balls out of this staff and we won’t always have the friendly confines of Tropicana Field to keep the ball in play, but you can trust that if it is gettable then we’re likely to have a guy well positioned to track that sucker down and get the rest of the defense off of the field and back up to the plate.