The Yankees are leading the charge in a lot of important categories this season (wins, for instance; that’s an important one). But this year and recent years alike, there is one trait that has perhaps set the Bronx Bombers aside from the competition more than anything else — their propensity to field players capable of doing things that few others can match. Since 2015, Statcast has given us the valuable ability to give proof to that idea, to know that Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge really do hit the ball harder than anyone. And since 2015, in many of the metrics Statcast has brought to light, the Yankees have shined the brightest.
Even on the most basic, visible level, the Yankees are outliers. Baseball players aren’t typically built like Judge, Stanton, or Aroldis Chapman, and they don’t typically do what they can do either. Thanks to Statcast, we can see just how much many of the members of both past Yankees teams and the current club stand out against the competition
The 2022 squad has a handy lead over any other team in home runs this year, so let’s start there. Since 2015, there have been 13 home runs hit 490 feet or further. Of those, six of them were by former or current Yankees, two apiece from Judge and Joey Gallo, and one each from Stanton and Gary Sánchez.
This total includes two of the top three as well, coming off the bats of Judge and Stanton. Of the 38 home runs hit 480 feet or further, five of them were hit by players wearing pinstripes. The only other team with as many is the Texas Rangers, thanks in part to two moonshots from a current Yankee, in Gallo.
Where the Yankees really stand out the most, however, is with exit velocity. Of course, this is no secret, as Judge and Stanton in particular are perhaps most known for their standing in this realm. But looking at the leaderboard can give good context as to how impressive it is.
The 23 hardest-hit baseballs on the record all belong to current or former Yankees. All of which came from the frightening bats of Judge and Stanton, save for one Sánchez lineout. You can make the sample quite large, and those two, along with other current and former Yankees (hello, Chris Gittens) make very frequent appearances. Just for reference, here is a pie chart depicting the top 50:
When it comes to pitch velocity, the story is much of the same. The six fastest recorded pitches all belong to Chapman, who once dominated the velocity leaderboards so much that MLB added a filter to help readers learn who occupied the top spots aside from just Chapman.
Chapman is also the owner of 40 of the top 50 such pitches. In regard to starting pitchers, the results tell the same tale (and give a bit of a flashback). Of the five fastest pitches thrown by starters, three of them were thrown by then-Yankee Nathan Eovaldi. For regular starters, you’ll find Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole in the top 10 for average fastball velocity since 2015 as well.
When watching video of the fastest recorded pitch, according to Statcast, thrown by Aroldis Chapman, you can hear an audible gasp in the crowd as they realize what happened.
In essence, that’s what all of this is about: that ability to amaze. Many of the most impressive and unique feats seen on the field, have been done in pinstripes. And many of the sport’s players capable of achieving these highs are on the current roster. Dig around any of these sort of leaderboards, and you’ll find Yankees near the top. The lowest launch angle (over-the-fence) home run? It belongs to Giancarlo Stanton; they are everywhere.
The Yankees likely lead the league in doing things that produce audible “wows” and gasps, and make people immediately wonder if what they just saw has been done before. All of that adds up to a lot of excitement, and I’d say that’s worth something.
Those unique and gasp-inducing moments are a big part of what makes baseball fun. After all, this sport in particular is largely a collection of single moments in between regular breaks. And there are so many — ranging from the mundane to the extreme — that the most impressive and elusive of those moments significantly stand out. The Yankees have dominated when it comes to those moments, and have shown us the known outer limits of what can be done on a baseball field.