We need something fun, don’t we?
The baseball season is suspended for who knows how long. All other sports have been canceled. We’re all just sitting at home surrounded by our hoarded rolls of toilet paper. (Please, don’t hoard toilet paper). We need something to brighten the mood!
So, I offer you this: the best barreled balls from the 2019 Cardinals.
What is a barrel? MLB writes that “the Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since” blah blah blah...
Yes, I know. Fun! We’re here to have a little fun and official definitions aren’t fun. For our purposes, a barrel is a ball that’s hit really hard, at the right angle, and usually results in a great outcome.
Seeing a barrel is the best way to understand them. I went through Statcast results for most of the regular Cardinals players, searching for their best barreled balls this past season. The majority of them are home runs, but one hard-hit double sneaked in. I’ve listed them in order of exit velocity and included embedded video for each. I also provide a tiny bit of analysis, but that’s not really the point.
The point is to watch great baseball. So, smile! Enjoy yourself! And, please, don’t hoard toilet paper.
#1: Marcell Ozuna - April 8, 2019, 115.3 mph, result: HR
The hardest-hit barrel from 2019 was a HR by Marcell Ozuna that just barely cleared the wall. TV doesn't do this ball's exit velocity justice, but McCarver noticed! 115 mph!— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 18, 2020
#1 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Marcell Ozuna - April 8, 2019, 115.3 mph, result: HR pic.twitter.com/AxhFt4mbbI
Marcell Ozuna had the highest average exit velocity on the Cardinals in 2019. He also had the highest exit velocity in a single plate appearance. It came here, against Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu left a fastball middle/high and Ozuna smoked it just inside the left-field foul pole. This hit is a great example of how television does not adequately capture how hard a ball is hit. The launch angle was just 18.8 degrees and it barely sneaked over the corner wall. Only a few frames at the moment of contact captured the crazy velocity that this ball carried. This was just one of Ozuna’s 47 barreled balls on the season. He had 8 total balls struck over 110 mph.
#2: Paul Goldschmidt - July 24, 2019, 111.5 mph, result: HR
Goldschmidt did not have the hardest hit "barrel" in '19. He did have the 2nd hardest & it came in the middle of his July surge against the Pirates. This ball was crushed!— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 18, 2020
#2 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Paul Goldschmidt - July 24, 2019, 111.5 mph, result: HR pic.twitter.com/425eQDryGc
On July 24th, the Cardinals broke out the power bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning 14-8 on the road. Paul DeJong hammered three pitches over the wall. Andrew Knizner got into the action with his first career long ball. Paul Goldschmidt provided this beauty against Chris Archer. Interestingly, this pitch was not a strike. Archer left a 93.7 mph fastball just off the black of the plate and high. Goldschmidt’s compact swing allowed for him to both center the ball and keep it fair. It’s am impressive piece of hitting. The exit velocity of 111.5 was his hardest hit ball of the season and one of 49 barrels he had, leading the club.
#3: Harrison Bader - March 28, 110.6 mph, result: HR
Is it surprising that Harrison Bader is #3 on the list? Higher than Carpenter and DeJong? It really shouldn't. He can hit the ball hard when he hits it.— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 18, 2020
#3 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Harrison Bader - March 28, 110.6 mph, result: HR pic.twitter.com/qlKCtu9C4N
Harrison Bader peaked early in 2019. By early, I mean Opening Day. With two outs in the 2nd inning against the Brewers’ Jhoulys Chacin, Dexter Fowler drew a walk. Kolten Wong followed with a HR, his first of two that day. Clearly scuffling, Chacin left an 89.5 mph fastball middle/middle and Bader absolutely crushed it. Exit velocity on the pitch was 110.6, with a launch angle of 23.9 degrees. This was not Bader’s hardest hit barrel on the season, but it was the best result. Bader barreled 23 balls in 2019.
#4: Tommy Edman - June 14, 2019, 110.1 mph, result: 2b
Yes, Tommy Edman hit a ball harder than Paul DeJong. Emphasis on "a" - as in one. This was by far his hardest struck ball.— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 18, 2020
#4 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Tommy Edman - June 14, 2019, 110.1 mph, result: 2b pic.twitter.com/WkmloU1xIi
Mets Pitcher Steven Matz is a very kind-hearted individual. In the third inning, Matz left a 1-0, 93.6 mph sinker middle-middle, and Tommy Edman crushed it for his first MLB hit. It was a double over the head of the center fielder, who was apparently skeptical of Edman’s power potential. This screamer was hit at 110.1 mph and was by far the hardest hit ball of Edman’s rookie campaign. Edman did have two other results between 105-106 mph, but most of his barreled balls were under 103 mph in exit velocity. Edman centered just 14 balls last season, a reality that doesn’t bode well for his future power output. Speed and contact ability are more his game.
#5: Paul DeJong - April 15, 2019, 109.7 mph, result: HR
5 videos coming down today! That will occupy 2 1/2 minutes of your recommended isolation. Glad to do my part.— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 18, 2020
#5 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Paul DeJong - April 15, 2019, 109.7 mph, result: HR pic.twitter.com/UD6VPGsBme
The Cardinals hit the Brewers hard and often. In addition to the Bader homer above, Paul DeJong produced this massive shot in Milwaukee. Paul Goldschmidt took Freddy Peralta deep in the first inning. DeJong followed. The pitch was a 90.2 mph fastball. The result was a towering 462 foot back-to-back blast. It was one of the longest homers hit by a Cardinal in 2019. The pitch was middle-up and the resulting launch angle was 23.4 degrees. DeJong barreled 38 balls last season, for an average exit velocity of 103.5 mph.
#6: Matt Carpenter - April 17, 2019, 108.9 mph, result: HR
#6 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Matt Carpenter - April 17, 2019, 108.9 mph, result: HR pic.twitter.com/9SKFmiI3iO— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 17, 2020
What is it about the Brewers? In the fourth inning of this April contest, pitcher Corbin Burnes left a 93.6 mph 2-1 fastball middle-in and Carpenter did not miss it. This HR traveled 419 feet and was hit at 108.9 mph. This came after Carpenter hit another barreled ball 106.4 mph for a hard liner to right for an out, also against Burnes. Seems like the key to Carpenter’s improvement in 2020 (if the season happens) is facing Corbin Burnes more often. Carpenter only barreled 23 pitches in 2019, but did produce the same average exit velocity on those pitches as Paul DeJong - 103.5.
#7: Kolten Wong - March 28, 2019, 106.5 mph, result: HR
Good morning! Happy social distancing today. Here are more awesome baseball videos as we prepare for what will surely be a crazy day.— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 17, 2020
#7 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Kolten Wong - March 28, 2019, 106.5 mph, result: HR pic.twitter.com/H6cqVxDxQe
Remember above when Harrison Bader went back-to-back with Kolten Wong on Opening Day? Well, here’s Wong’s homer. Against the Brewers (again) and Chacin (again). This 88.8 mph two-seam fastball was middle-low, and Wong smoked it for a 424 shot at 106.5 mph. Power and exit velocity aren’t really Wong’s thing, but he does show here what he’s capable of when a pitcher makes a mistake. The launch angle was 26.9, which helps account for the significant distance that Wong earned. Wong barreled only 10 balls last season for an average of 102.9 mph.
#8: Dexter Fowler - May 19, 2019, 105.4 mph, result: HR
#8 ranked "Best Barrel from a Cardinals Regular" is Dexter Fowler - May 19, 2019, 105.4 mph, result: HR. pic.twitter.com/BW0PqOh6Qt— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 16, 2020
This was not Dexter Fowler’s hardest hit ball or hardest hit HR. But, it was one of his most dramatic. With the Cardinals down 3-2 in the top of the 9th, Rangers’ pitcher Chris Martin done messed up. He left a 98.2 mph fastball middle-middle, and Fowler crushed it into the seats in right at 105.4 mph, tying the game. (The Cards would go on to lose). Fowler’s launch angle was 30.5 on this no-doubter. Interestingly, his hardest hit ball of the season (a 106.5 mph homer) came just five days earlier. The average exit velocity on Fowler’s 28 barreled balls was just 101.8; the veteran switch-hitter can still center balls at a solid rate, but the does not have the ability to produce as much energy as he used to.
#9: Yadier Molina - September 23, 2019, 104.8 mph, result: HR
#9 ranked "best barrel" from a Cardinal regular is Yadier Molina - September 23, 2019, 104.8 mph, result: HR pic.twitter.com/eqtyyoYNsq— Jason Hill (@JPHill_Cards) March 16, 2020
Speaking of batters who do not have the ability to drive balls as frequently as they used to, Molina only managed 14 barreled balls in 2019. This one came on a middle-middle sinker at 88.8 mph against Alex Young. Molina sent it 429 to center at 29.8 degrees. Molina’s average exit velocity on his barrels was just 101.4 mph. This was the lowest average exit velocity of any Cardinals batter who barreled a pitch in 2019, but its still a great sounding result.
Statistics by Baseball Savant (using this search).
Video by MLB at Baseball Savant.