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As a team, the Diamondbacks ranked no higher than 21st in batting average, on-base percentage or OPS in 2022. But they still hit some baseballs really freaking hard along the way.
The crack of the bat has brought baseball fans joy for more than a century, but for a long time that sound was impossible to quantify. The ball just sounds different off his bat, we used to say.
That adage still makes its rounds, but in 2015, Major League Baseball took the guessing game away by tracking exit velocity on every batted ball in every big league game. And if you’re like me, you can hardly remember what watching a baseball game was like before that. (Most people aren’t.)
The D-backs did not hit the ball as hard as some in 2022. As a team, they ranked 25th in hard-hit rate at 35.6 percent, 24th in average exit velocity at 88.1 MPH and 20th in max exit velocity at 115 MPH. They had 10 batted balls with exit velocity of 112 MPH or higher. For reference, Aaron Judge had 36 by himself for the New York Yankees.
Nonetheless, those 10 batted balls were mashed, and they deserve recognition. All of them can be attributed to one of three hitters: Ketel Marte, Christian Walker and David Peralta. Naturally, one might think that the 10 hardest-hit balls of the year were all homers, or at the very least, base hits. But remember: This is baseball we’re talking about!
10. David Peralta vs. Jordan Hicks, 112.1 MPH
May 1, 2022 | Count 1-0 | Result: Lineout
We start in St. Louis, where Peralta destroyed an inner-half fastball directly into the glove of the one and only Albert Pujols. It is no secret that Pujols’ best defensive days are behind him, but this might be better described as self-defense than defense.
Peralta isn’t necessarily known as a masher at the plate, but he has always hit the ball hard. Since exit velocity was first tracked in 2015, Peralta’s max exit velocity has been in the 89th percentile or higher every year. When Peralta hits one on the sweet spot, look out.
9. Christian Walker vs. Justin Steele, 112.1 MPH
May 15, 2022 | Count: 1-0 | Result: Single
Ask any D-backs fan who has the most raw power on the roster, and at least nine out of 10 would say Walker. They are not wrong. He led the team with 36 homers for a reason.
This one didn’t leave the yard, but it was an absolute shot off Chicago Cubs lefty Justin Steele. It also helped the D-backs tie the game later in the inning.
8. Ketel Marte vs. Mike Minor, 112.5 MPH
June 13, 2022 | Count: 0-0 | Result: Double
Fresh off an offseason extension, Marte’s .240/.321/.407 batting line in 2022 was subpar. Nonetheless, the switch-hitter has always had a knack for destroying lefties, and he demonstrated that here.
For most of the season, it appeared Marte was swinging out of his shoes against southpaws. That did not bode well for his overall success offensively, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to watch when he made contact.
7. Christian Walker vs. Blake Snell, 112.6 MPH
Sep. 16, 2022 | Count: 0-0 | Result: Home run
An actual home run! My stopwatch says this one left the yard in a whopping 3.5 seconds.
This Walker dinger came against another lefty, San Diego Padres lefty Blake Snell. Stay tuned — this is not Snell’s only appearance on this list.
6. Ketel Marte vs. JT Brubaker, 112.6 MPH
June 3, 2022 | Count: 1-0 | Result: Home run
Somehow, the craziest thing about this moment at PNC Park is not that Ketel Marte’s dinger left the ballpark in roughly 2.8 seconds. It’s that it took the Pittsburgh Pirates broadcast 23 seconds to acknowledge a go-ahead, two-run home run. (They were discussing a tag play that was just unsuccessfully challenged by Pittsburgh.)
At 112.6 MPH, this is Marte’s hardest-hit ball against a righty in his Diamondbacks career — dating all the way back to 2016.
5. Ketel Marte vs. Will Smith, 112.8 MPH
May 30, 2022 | Count: 0-1 | Result: Groundout
No surprises here — it’s just Marte destroying another pitch against a lefty. Somehow, the 112.8 MPH exit velocity doesn’t stand out as much as the fact that this pitch was roughly a foot below the strike zone. Marte smoked it, but had no choice but to roll over the top.
Marte has always had outstanding bat-to-ball skills. In this case, that worked against him.
4. Ketel Marte vs. Blake Snell, 112.9 MPH
Sep. 5, 2022 | Count: 0-1 | Result: Double play
Yes, the fourth-hardest hit ball of the year for the D-backs ended in a double play. Baseball is a cruel sport, indeed.
Unlike Will Smith’s breaking ball, this pitch from Snell was in the strike zone. It was a good pitch, though, and the result was a microcosm of Marte’s second half. He hit the ball hard, but often directly at the ground.
3. David Peralta vs. Collin Snider, 113 MPH
May 23, 2022 | Count: 1-1 | Result: Single
Speaking of hitting the ball hard into the ground, that is something of a microcosm of Peralta’s career. The former D-backs outfielder has long suffered from an extremely high ground-ball rate that prevents him from taking advantage of his knack for hard contact. Peralta actually lowered that ground-ball rate dramatically in 2022, but struggled for other reasons.
This 113-MPH grounder was textbook Peralta, though. He hit it so hard that no Royals defender had a chance.
2. Ketel Marte vs. Blake Snell, 113.3 MPH
Sep. 16, 2022 | Count: 3-1 | Result: Lineout
In another battle between Marte and Snell, Marte is sitting fastball in a 3-1 count and gets it. Yes, baseball is cruel to hitters in general, but that is particularly true when you hit the ball at Manny Machado.
D-backs fans are laughing (and probably crying) with you, Ketel.
1. Ketel Marte vs. Wade Miley, 115 MPH
May 22, 2022 | Count: 1-0 | Result: Single
There it is: the D-backs’ hardest-hit batted ball of the year. Marte’s 115 MPH exit velocity against Wade Miley is actually only the ninth-highest of his career to date. His highest ever is 116.3 MPH, which came on a single against Colorado Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland back in 2019.
Top photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports