I guess it’s good that Statcast is periodically tracking balls even in Spring Training.
When he stepped to the plate yesterday, Jake Arrieta hadn’t yet taken a spring at bat. With the Cubs using their limit-starting-pitchers approach again this year in Spring Training, and also hiding some of their front-end guys in minor league games, there haven’t even been many opportunities for Arrieta to bat yet, even if the Cubs weren’t aggressively using the DH.
Naturally, in his first spring at bat, Arrieta not only cranked a homer, he cranked a Statcast-record homer:
That was a bullet off of the bat (104.1 mph) and went a Giancarlo-like 465 feet. Of course, the record Arrieta broke was his own, set last year on another monster homer in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. As Michael wrote last night, it was only part of an excellent offensive year for Arrieta, and if yesterday’s swing was any indication, pitchers will once again have to be very careful with the bearded beast when he’s at the plate.
Arrieta’s wasn’t the only homer yesterday for the Cubs, though. You could argue that the other came from an unlikely source, too:
That was no Arizona cheapy, either.
La Stella’s swing never looks like it’s generating a lot of power, but he barrels the ball so well and has such good bat speed that, even with a compact swing and a smaller frame, he actually generates more power than you might think. In that respect, I’m not sure I’d call a La Stella homer coming from “an unlikely source.”
That was La Stella’s second homer of the Spring in just 25 at bats, or as many as he hit last year in 148 regular season at bats. For fun, if we combined the spring numbers this year with the regular season numbers from last year, La Stella’s homer pace would put him at about 16 homers in a full season. So, hey, there’s some home run pop there!
It remains to be seen how the Cubs’ final roster spot will be handled. Will La Stella get the gig based on his lefty, high contact bat, and ability to play the infield? Will Matt Szczur (who is connected in trade rumors) get the job because of his solid season off the bench in 2016 and his lack of minor league options? Or will the Cubs begin the season with only seven pitchers in the bullpen, allowing them to keep both La Stella and Szczur? We’re going to know very soon.