I think I might be on to something. While messing around with some 2022 batted ball data in an effort to improve my programming skills, I created a list of players whose strikeout speed is over the 95th percentile more than their average strikeout speed. If you will in plain English, these are the players who hit the snot off the ball when they make contact, but their average speed out weighs a heap of fouls. Second on this list among players with at least 200 home runs? And Neil Cruzposter child for maximum cartoons and frequent communication issues.
With Cruz near the top of this list, I thought I might have a grain on something awesome. I’m fair (only 162 runs batted in, but still), Michael Harris IIAnd Alonso House They’re all up there, and they’re the kind of players I expect to see. They’re also interesting players from a hacking perspective; If something clicks and they start making more consistent connections, they could turn into monster-smashers overnight.
This is unfair to Alonso, who is already a monster hitter, but there is some heuristic value there. Alonso f Mookie Pets She had strikingly similar streaks in 2022 by strike rate, walk rate, isolated power, BABIP, and WRC+:
Bates = Alonso??
One class where they weren’t the same? Alonso’s top exit speed is much higher than that of Bates. I mean, obviously. Have you seen Mookie Betts? Have you seen Alonso’s house? If Alonso is up to his power as often as Bates, he’ll be ready Jordan Alvarez Preparation. In fact, Alvarez and Alonso have nearly identical exit speeds in the 95th percentile, but Alvarez hits the ball hard at 5.5 mph on average. In other words, he’s constantly hitting the ball on the screws. No wonder, then, that he posted an isolated strength 60 points higher than Alonso.
If you’re thinking I’m mostly redefining exploration concepts like brute force and game power, you’re absolutely right. In fact, the 95 percent exit speed leaderboard is pretty close to a list of the 15 players with the best raw power (shout out to Mike Zuninowhose 70 batted balls probably don’t deserve to be on the list but I really wanted to include him anyway):
95th percentile EV leaders
I get distracted here, though. We’re talking about the gap between those 95th percentile numbers and your average exit speed. I decided to comb through the data and look for hitters who could explode if they improved their consistency. I’ve looked for players whose finishing strength is better than the league average but who don’t get it with any consistency, most likely because they hit the ball too often. There are no real scientific standards here other than that. I just picked a few names that have big mid/top gaps and have extra strength. I also focused on small hitters and people with particularly high 95 percentile numbers:
This is a ranked list, but I think it’s probably an exaggeration of the amount of reference there is in this. Learning to make aloud communication more consistently isn’t exactly easy. It is also not necessary; Alonso, Wilson Contreras, and Giancarlo Stanton would be right at home on this list if they weren’t already so good, and I only put Harris there to confirm that he might have other equipment. On the other side of the coin, Francie Cordero He’s been on lists like this his entire big league career without ever knowing it. This is not a definitive list, but I think it is interesting.
From there, I’ve descended to the bottom of the list: players who power up most frequently. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that your newly minted Marilyn Louis Araz He’s the player with the smallest gap between his average speed and his 95th exit speed. He’s just consistent dang. Andrew BenintendeAnd Miles StrawAnd Josh HarrisonAnd Whit MerrifieldAnd Jeff McNeil In that general area too. You roughly know this kind of hitter; The man who squares everything thanks to a short, repeatable swing.
My general thinking here was that I could use this kind of filter to look for hitters that I think are very unlikely to throw outstanding numbers. But, uh, that plan is not right. Hangout is also at the bottom of the list: Freddie Freemanand Betts Alex Bergman. Those three combined for 79 homerooms last year. They are definitely not the slappers we’re looking for. There is a sneaky correlation going on here that spoils the results.
One way to get a small gap between the 95th percentile EV and your average EV is to not hit the ball hard. Everyone misses the ball more or less similarly; If you don’t have a lot of power, your good hits will simply have less distance than those poorly hit balls.
Another way to get a small gap between your average exit speed and the 95 percent mark is to simply avoid mistakes. If you always reach out to your best contact, this gap will necessarily narrow. Bates boasts above-average strength, sure, but that’s not his standout talent. He hits the ball on the nose so often that he doesn’t have much flirty contact to speak of.
Last year, 411 players put at least 100 balls into play; Bates ranked 404th among that group in average of hits hits of 75 mph or less. In other words, everyone else in baseball misses the ball more often than he does. For what it’s worth, Arraez is ranked 407th on the same list; It combines the two ways that you can get a narrow gap between the mean EV and the 95th percentile, which is why it has the lowest gap in the majors.
With that in mind, I have another list to watch: hitters who boasted a faster than 95 percent exit speed but small gaps between that and their average exit speed. As before, I highlight players who feel they are undervalued or may break out; I don’t top the list with Betts or Freeman even though they are the best hits for this class of hitters. Without further ado, some potential laser beam dealers:
Consistent, underappreciated steady hitters
Now, do any of my list of breakout-worthy young hitters presage? I’m not sure yet. I’m doing a little retrospective of who’s been on these lists in the past now, perhaps in service of another article later this week (it’s January, after all). But they mean I will be watching these players with interest. If anyone on that high-energy, low-consistency list starts putting up a strong damaged rate or showing contact consistency, I’m going to start believing they’re the real deal right away. Likewise, I’d be more than willing to accept that good seasons from any of those five names on the final list are no accident; They have shown the ability to hit the ball with power and consistency.