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Starting Pitcher hard hit rate: the top 50

These starting pitchers were hardest to square up in 2014

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Hard hit rate is an excellent stat to use to evaluate both hitters and pitchers because the harder a ball is hit, the more likely it results in strong offensive production. Pitchers who limit hard contact are more likely to have better results than pitchers who give up a larger amount of hard contact.

A low hard hit rate can help further validate a strong ERA or breakout season. Combined with other statistics like BABIP, it can also give us an idea of which pitchers may have been let down by their defense in 2014, or which pitchers ran into some unlucky batted ball placement.

The following hard hit rate overview is attributed to ESPN's Mark Simon. Follow Mark on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/msimonespn

Hard hit rate is the percentage of at bats that end in a hard hit ball. It is subjectively determined by a video review team using measures like exit velocity, trajectory and contact on the sweet spot.

Batting average by batted ball type:

Hard: around .700

Medium: around .400

Soft: around .140-.150

% of _ that are hard hit:

Home runs: about 100%

Triples: over 80%

Doubles: over 70%

Singles: about 30%

Outs: about 7%

The top 50 starting pitchers for hard hit rate in 2014 were:

(Name, hard hit rate)

1. Chris Sale, 9.3%

2. Garrett Richards, 10.3%

3. Marcus Stroman, 10.9%

4. Dallas Keuchel, 11.1%

5. Sonny Gray, 11.1%

6. Clayton Kershaw, 11.2%

7. Charlie Morton, 11.2%

8. Francisco Liriano, 11.2%

9. Carlos Carrasco, 11.5%

10. Alex Cobb, 11.5%

11. Doug Fister, 11.6%

12. Johnny Cueto, 11.6%

13. T.J. House, 11.7%

14. Jake Arrieta, 11.8%

15. Cole Hamels, 11.8%

16. Jon Lester, 11.9%

17. Jacob deGrom, 11.9%

18. Felix Hernandez, 12.1%

19. Hector Santiago, 12.1%

20. Max Scherzer, 12.2%

21. Zack Greinke, 12.4%

22. C.J. Wilson, 12.5%

23. Tyson Ross, 12.6%

24. Gio Gonzalez, 12.8%

25. Anibal Sanchez, 12.9%

26. Madison Bumgarner, 13.0%

27. Jason Vargas, 13.1%

28. Jose Quintana, 13.3%

29. Michael Wacha, 13.5%

30. Julio Teheran, 13.5%

31. James Shields, 13.6%

32. Zack Wheeler, 13.6%

33. Yordano Ventura, 13.7%

34. Tyler Skaggs, 13.7%

35. Corey Kluber, 13.8%

36. Lance Lynn, 13.9%

37. Kyle Gibson, 13.9%

38. Matt Garza, 13.9%

39. Kevin Gausman, 14.0%

40. Chris Archer, 14.0%

41. Mat Latos, 14.0%

42. Stephen Strasburg, 14.1%

43. Alex Wood, 14.2%

44. Tanner Roark, 14.2%

45. Vance Worley, 14.3%

46. Chris Tillman, 14.4%

47. Adam Wainwright, 14.4%

48. Phil Hughes, 14.4%

49. Ubaldo Jimenez, 14.4%

50. Andrew Cashner, 14.5%