If I can keep it up all month, 31 days of positive posts! There's going to be enough negativity going around with the Cardinals not in the post-season.
Kyle Reis here at Birds on the Black runs a heck of a podcast/periscope/thingy that he would basically describe to you as "a hot mess," but he is just too modest. Every week or so, Kyle brings ridiculous energy to describe what is going on with the Cardinals - with an especially good focus on the minor leagues. The father of one Cardinals' player discussed at length both on Kyle's Prospects after Dark (PaD) and in Cardinals Nation in 2018 in general frequents Kyle's "hot mess" and has been named the "Godfather of PaD." Today's Positive October post is about, then, the "godson" of Birds on the Black...so to speak.
Jordan Hicks burst on the scene throwing absolute fire. Well, not literally, but his pitches are absolutely filthy. Whereas Aroldis Chapman used to dominate the leaderboards for the "hardest pitch" category - to the point where Statcast instituted a "Chapman filter" so you could actually see who else threw very hard - Jordan Hicks dominated that leaderboard this year.
Jordan Hicks was somewhat well known already when on May 20th, he threw four pitches in one plate appearance to Odubel Herrera of the Phillies that were clocked at 105.1, 105.0, 104.3, and 104.2 miles per hour. At that moment, those beat out Chapman's 103.3 mph four-seam fastball on May 8th for the four hardest pitches in baseball. They didn't end as the top 4 fastest pitches in baseball this year, but those 105.1 and 105.0 did end as the fastest two pitches thrown in 2018. In fact, out of the fastest 50 pitches in baseball this year, all at 103.0 mph or faster, Jordan Hicks had 39 of them. Chapman had 9. Tyson Guerrero had the other two. They do not yet have a "Hicks Filter" on Statcast leaderboards, but if you use the "Chapman Filter" I mentioned earlier, another 2 Tyson Guerrero 103.0 mph fastballs join the leaderboard along with another 7 pitches from Jordan Hicks! All of them are at 102.9 mph. That means that Hicks threw at minimum (but not limited to) 46 pitches 102.9 mph or faster this year. That's at least 3.6% of his pitches, possibly more.
Hicks' fastball average 100.5 mph this season. Aroldis Chapman and Tyson Guerrero were the only two who were (barely) within 2 miles per hour of that. There were 38 more pitchers within 2 miles per hour of Guerrero. That's how far ahead Hicks was with the velocity on his fastballs.
My favorite stat for Hicks this year is probably not (directly) velocity related, but that Hicks also led the league in another category - the lowest percentage of swings and plate appearances in which the batter was able to barrel up the ball. That allowed him to have just a .275 wOBA allowed this season. That's pretty awesome. He basically turned every hitter league-wide into Greg Garcia in 2018 (sorry, Greg).