Cardinals SS Masyn Winn's Arm Strength Stands Alone
When he fielded a grounder hit by speedy St. Lucie outfielder Omar De Los Santos on Saturday, Cardinals shortstop Masyn Winn didn’t have much time to waste. De Los Santos sprinted out of the box. A plus runner, De Los Santos was busting down the line, ready to turn a ground ball into an infield hit.
And against a lot of shortstops, De Los Santos may have pulled it off. But on Saturday, he was in a race with the best infield arm in baseball.
Winn came in several steps, fielded the ball cleanly and then uncorked a 96.6 mph missile to beat De Los Santos to the bag.
Now you may be thinking, "Why am I reading about a simple ground ball to shortstop that turned into a relatively unremarkable out?"
It’s because Winn’s throwing arm is one of those rare cases where this is a tool being shown off in the minors that stands a notch above anything we’re seeing in the majors. We do not have Hawkeye tracking every throw made in the minors—the technology is only available for the Low-A Southeast and the majors. But we can confidently state that Winn’s arm is far beyond anything we’re seeing in the majors.
Here is a list of every throw of 92 mph or higher on an out recorded in the infield this year in the major leagues.
|1||Tatis Jr., Fernando||93.1|
|3||Tatis Jr., Fernando||92.6|
|4||Tatis Jr., Fernando||92.5|
And here is a list of every 92 mph or harder throw that Winn has recorded on an infield out this year.
In a comparison of every MLB infielders' arm strength against Winn's, Winn has outpaced the major leaguers by a large margin in 2021. Winn has more than twice as many 92-plus mph throws as every infielder in the majors combined.
Now if you go back to 2020, the comparison gets a little closer. There were three 95-plus mph throws on infield outs in 2020. Tatis had two of them (topped by a 97.3 mph laser on a ground out). Xander Bogaerts had the other (96.1 mph) as he fielded a ball at shortstop, ran across the bag at second base and then threw to first with all of his momentum going in the direction of the throw.
But even then, Winn’s best throws are comparable to the best around the majors. This study focused on throws across the infield because when infielders are asked to relay throws from the outfield, it’s a different type of throw and one that normally sees them throw harder than they do on ground balls and line drives.
When looking at relay throws, the top throw in the majors by an infielder in 2021 jumps to Tatis’ 97.0 mph relay on July 9. Tatis also has two other relays of 95-plus mph in 2021. Jean Segura has a 94.0 mph throw on a relay as well.
But once again, Winn tops all MLB infielders when it comes to this as well. Winn has three 97.8 mph relays this year and one 98.7 relay throw. His fourth-best relay throw is harder than the hardest throw recorded by an infielder in the majors this year.
When we first looked at these throws, we did wonder if there could be a calibration error helping Winn here. But Winn is recording these throws at home and on the road. And no one else in Low-A Southeast is posting this kind of velocity on their throws.
The simpler answer is the more realistic one. Every now and then there is a player in the minors who has a tool that stands above those in the major leagues. A little over a decade ago Aroldis Chapman was throwing 103 mph in Triple-A at a time when no one was doing so in the majors. When Billy Hamilton was running wild in Class A in 2012, he was faster than everyone in the majors. And Winn’s throwing arm appears to be a notch above that of any MLB infielder in 2021.
When the Cardinals drafted Winn last year, they discussed making him a two-way player who played shortstop and pitched. So far he’s only played shortstop, but that’s done nothing to diminish the rarity of his arm strength.