The lore of the arm strength, particularly that of outfielders where you can watch the ball carry hundreds of feet, can be legendary. The feats of Roberto Clemente immediately jump to mind. But at least for me, you also envision throws from guys like Bo Jackson, Jose Guillen, and Vladimir Guerrero. If you’ve been a fan of the Cincinnati Reds over the last few years then you probably have plenty of memories of Aristides Aquino firing lasers out of his right arm to various infielders, too.
Baseball Savant has recently added a new category of stat tracking called the Arm Strength Leaderboard. It’s not perfect, as they note, because players don’t need to let it fly on every throw. So they used the average of a given percentage of their “top throws” (the percentage varies by position) to find the numbers they are using.
It will not surprise you to hear that Aristides Aquino is among the leaders in the outfield. In fact, he ranks second behind Ronald Acuna Jr. Aquino’s overall average on the top 10% of his throws is 96.6 MPH. His max throw came in at 101.6 MPH, which ranked 6th among outfielders with at least 50 throws (we can’t go any lower than this).
|Albert Almora Jr.||167||85.8||82.2|
The average throw from left field according to Baseball Savant is 87.3 MPH. In center it’s exactly 90 MPH, and in right field it’s 90.5 MPH. That information kind of goes well with how we view outfielders as needing strong arms in both center and in right field, while guys without big arms tend to find their way into left.
Both Aristides Aquino and Tyler Naquin come out with above-average arms. What is interesting is that it’s Nick Senzel with the second best “max” throw, but his average throw is near the bottom and well below-average. Like many defensive statistics, the “overall” may not be telling us the entire story and we may need more context here as well as a larger sample size of throws.
It’s not just the outfielders that are known for their arm strength. Plenty of shortstops and third basemen have laser-rocket arms, too. The first time I saw a guy on the infield make a throw that I knew was different was Shawon Dunston. Even an elementary school-aged me saw that his arm was just different than just about anyone else I was watching on tv at the time.
Cincinnati’s infielders had one player really stand out with his arm – Jose Barrero. Everyone else was below-average in their “overall” score.
|MLB Avg: 2B: 81.0 MPH | 3B: 85.7 MPH | SS: 85.9 MPH|
Barrero has long been known for his arm, so it’s no surprise that he shows up atop the Reds leaderboard here. Among all shortstops his 89.6 MPH “overall” ranks 5th out of the 71 players to register at least 50 throws from the position on the season.