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Statcast Review: Aaron Judge, Byron Buxton, Tony Gonsolin (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

May 19, 2022


 
Hard hit percentage is one of the most self-explanatory, digestible statistics in sabermetrics. As the name implies, it is the percentage of times a batter hits the ball “hard.” How hard? For the sake of this column, at least 95 mph.

When trying to gauge the success rate of a batter or pitcher, it is usually helpful and essential to dive deeper than the surface numbers, i.e., a batting average can be inflated by a series of weaker hits in a small sample size. Hard hit percentage is that deeper dive, and it is the number behind the number. As usual, we will look at both sides of the game to identify the players who supply or limit hard hits regularly.

Hard Hit Percentage: Batters

Below are two tables for Hard Hit Percentage by batters with columns for Batted-Ball Event (BBE) and the number of hits with an exit velocity of at least 95 mph. The first table is sorted from high to low – where the higher number is better – while the second is sorted from low-to-high. The tables included only qualified hitters.

Sorted High-to-Low

Player BBE 95 MPH+ HH %
Aaron Judge 92 61 66.3
Yordan Alvarez 92 56 60.9
Willson Contreras 84 50 59.5
Tommy Pham 89 50 56.2
Jose Abreu 104 58 55.8
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 105 58 55.2
Giancarlo Stanton 96 53 55.2
Christian Yelich 98 53 54.1
Patrick Wisdom 63 34 54
Adolis Garcia 89 48 53.9
Mike Trout 84 45 53.6
Manny Machado 105 56 53.3
Jean Segura 94 50 53.2
Matt Chapman 89 47 52.8
Trea Turner 112 58 51.8
Bryce Harper 101 52 51.5
Austin Riley 100 51 51
Rafael Devers 124 63 50.8
Franmil Reyes 65 33 50.8
Ke’Bryan Hayes 93 46 49.5

 

Sorted Low-to-High

Player BBE 95 MPH+ HH %
Tony Kemp 111 14 12.6
Dylan Carlson 111 22 19.8
Nicky Lopez 90 20 22.2
Myles Straw 103 23 22.3
Ozzie Albies 124 29 23.4
Marcus Semien 110 28 25.5
Enrique Hernandez 108 28 25.9
Harrison Bader 97 27 27.8
Brandon Crawford 95 28 29.5
Abraham Toro 98 29 29.6
Frank Schwindel 90 27 30
Starling Marte 113 34 30.1
Connor Joe 106 32 30.2
Kolten Wong 96 29 30.2
Jeff McNeil 109 34 31.2
Eduardo Escobar 93 29 31.2
Jurickson Profar 99 31 31.3
Jesse Winker 114 36 31.6
Trent Grisham 82 26 31.7
J.P. Crawford 103 33 32

Notes

  • At the time of this writing, Aaron Judge and Yordan Alvarez lead the league in home runs, respectively. Surprise, surprise, they also lead the league in hard-hit percentage. The correlation is obvious, but it is inspiring that Judge and Alvarez are striking the ball well even when it doesn’t clear the fences. An average of more than three-out-of-every-five batted balls leaves the bat at a speed of at least 95 mph.
  • Since we started by connecting hard hits to home runs, we’ll continue along that theme with two players who aren’t on the list. The current top-five — really, six because three players are tied — in home runs include Byron Buxton and Anthony Rizzo, and neither is on the list. Much of their current value is being driven by the long ball, but their absence also highlights how impressive the aforementioned Judge and Alvarez have been.
  • Whenever percentages come into play, it’s important to note the opportunities or comparative attempts. Rafael Devers was mentioned in last week’s article as someone delivering a high percentage despite increased batted-ball events — where regression to the mean was likely. He is highlighted here again as, even with the most batted-ball events on the chart, Devers also has the highest number of hard hits. No matter which way we slice it, he continues to deliver as one of the best hitters in the game.
  • Of course, there is the opposite side of the chart. The list of hitters who sit roughly below one-third of their batted-ball events registering as “hard hit.” Most of the names are not particularly known for delivering high home run totals, but there is also an argument that positive correction is looming. Players like Jesse Winker and Marcus Semien are experiencing career-low hard-hit percentages, and improvement in this area may consequently push their fantasy values higher.

Hard Hit Percentage: Pitchers

Below are two tables for Hard Hit Percentage by pitchers. The first is sorted from low to high – where the lower number is better – while the second is sorted from high to low. The tables included only qualified pitchers.

Sorted Low-to-High

Player BBE 95 MPH+ HH %
Tony Gonsolin 86 20 23.3
Zach Eflin 96 24 25
Max Scherzer 100 28 28
Tyler Anderson 105 30 28.6
Jake Odorizzi 94 27 28.7
Dallas Keuchel 97 28 28.9
Zach Davies 102 30 29.4
Alek Manoah 112 33 29.5
Adam Wainwright 115 34 29.6
Dylan Cease 97 29 29.9
Zac Gallen 85 26 30.6
Miles Mikolas 146 45 30.8
Shohei Ohtani 77 24 31.2
Julio Urias 112 35 31.2
Trevor Rogers 98 31 31.6
Drew Smyly 99 32 32.3
Chris Bassitt 108 35 32.4
Pablo Lopez 108 35 32.4
Jordan Montgomery 104 34 32.7
Joe Ryan 98 32 32.7

 

Sorted High-to-Low

Player BBE 95 MPH+ HH %
Nick Pivetta 97 49 50.5
Taylor Hearn 89 44 49.4
Triston McKenzie 93 45 48.4
Vince Velasquez 87 42 48.3
Daniel Lynch 85 41 48.2
German Marquez 125 60 48
Jose Urquidy 123 59 48
Brandon Woodruff 92 44 47.8
Patrick Corbin 125 59 47.2
Jose Berrios 140 66 47.1
Dakota Hudson 109 51 46.8
Yusei Kikuchi 83 38 45.8
Eric Lauer 79 36 45.6
Logan Gilbert 113 51 45.1
Nathan Eovaldi 127 57 44.9
Freddy Peralta 85 38 44.7
Zach Plesac 130 58 44.6
Drew Rasmussen 106 47 44.3
Erick Fedde 100 44 44
Nick Martinez 84 37 44

Notes

  • Max Scherzer landing at the top of basically any pitching category is not a surprise. Tony Gonsolin? That’s a different story. Unless you read last week’s column where Gonsolin was also elite in terms of barrels per plate appearance. However we look at it, he is limiting hard hits, and even his general numbers are outstanding.
  • The other player we absolutely must highlight here is Zach Eflin. He is sandwiched between the aforementioned duo of Scherzer and Gonsolin, but his numbers are a far cry from the best in the league. However, his hard-hit percentage tells a different story, and that’s certainly where we should direct our attention. Eflin is now a prime candidate for positive correction where, if he can continue to prevent elevated exit velocities, the rest of his numbers should follow suit.
  • In the age of high strikeout rates, it’s impressive that Miles Mikolas can continually deliver solid outings. One look at the table above will easily explain how it happens. Mikolas leads all of Major League Baseball in batted ball events, yet he still sits in the top-12 for hard-hit percentage. Conversely, Shohei Ohtani has the fewest batted ball events among those who also ranked in the top-20 for lost hard-hit percentage.
  • As always, it is necessary to reverse the table’s order and identify the players who are struggling at limiting hard hits. Like the hitters, the pitchers featured here are not surprising as a whole. Still, someone like Brandon Woodruff — who finished last year with an outstanding 2.56 ERA — is an eye-popping name. This year’s ERA is undeniably bloated, and we can now see why. It’s not overly comforting, and it might be a sign that a repeat of 2021 is not in the works for Woodruff.

Have something you want me to cover in this space or just want to talk baseball? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @MarioMergola with questions or requests.

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Mario Mergola is a featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros and the creator and content editor of Sporfolio. For more from Mario, check out his archive and follow him @MarioMergola.

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