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Hitters who ran into bad luck in 2014 according to hard hit rate

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These hitters had below average results when hitting the ball hard in 2014, indicating they ran into some bad luck.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

A big part of winning your fantasy league is finding undervalued assets. Undervalued assets will outperform their draft slot or auction number and give you more quality throughout your roster. Finding undervalued assets can be tricky, but by looking past the back of the baseball card, we can accomplish that through the use of some advanced statistics.

When you watch a baseball game, you can see examples of batters who smoke the ball at an infielder and unluckily have it caught, or crush a ball into the outfield gap only for a speedy outfielder to make a terrific catch. This shows up as an out in your fantasy league, but the process at the plate was good. Due to the randomness of the game, this can happen more often to some players than others and their overall results may not reflect how well they actually performed.

Hard hit rate, a statistic that measures how often a batter hits the ball hard, is beginning to emerge into the mainstream. I remember listening to an interview with the outstanding former Baseball Prospectus writer Jason Parks, who is currently working in the scouting department for the Chicago Cubs, a year or two back, and something he said that really stuck with me. He talked about how professional talent evaluators inside baseball evaluate hitters based on measures similar to this stat; hitters will often get down on themselves when they hit the ball hard and it gets caught, but they shouldn't because that's exactly what progressive front offices are evaluating them on. If this is how the highly paid front offices are evaluating players, it makes sense that fantasy owners ought to use a similar method of player evaluation.

Hard hit rate is subjectively determined by a video review team. This review team looks at exit velocity off the bat, contact on the sweet spot of the barrel and ball trajectory to determine whether the ball has been hit hard, medium or soft.

Unfortunately, this statistic is not widely available to the public at this time; however, certain media outlets, such as ESPN’s Mark Simon, periodically release a small list of hard hit rate, usually featuring the highest and lowest rates in baseball. You can see some of Mark’s excellent work on the topic by following him on twitter, at https://twitter.com/msimonespn (@msimonespn).

Batting averages by batted ball type according to Simon’s data are as follows:

Hard: usually over .700

Medium: around .400

Soft: around .140-.150

Hitters who had batting averages significantly lower than .700 on hard hit balls ran into some bad luck in 2014 and should have had better results for their efforts. Here is a list of players who had the lowest batting average when they hit the ball hard in 2014 (minimum 50 balls hit), beginning with lowest average:

Player Name (their number of hard hit balls, their batting average on hard hit balls)

Didi Gregorius (56, .536)

Allen Craig (67, .552)

Nori Aoki (52, .577)

Michael Bourn (66, .578)

Ike Davis (56, .582)

Brayan Pena (58, .586)

Zack Cosart (56, .589)

Asdrubal Cabrera (91, .593)

Brock Holt (51, .600)

Matt Carpenter (98, .602)

B.J. Upton (74, .611)

Jason Kipnis (72, .611)

Jed Lowrie (96, .613)

Justin Morneau (98, .615)

Derek Jeter (60, .617)

Omar Infante (62, .617)

Jay Bruce (95, .617)

Yadier Molina (58, .618)

Brad Miller (58, .621)

Juan Lageras (53, .623)

Carlos Ruiz (57, .625)

Tommy La Stella (56, .625)

Joe Mauer (83, .627)

Lucas Duda (112, .631)

Brian Roberts (61, .633)

Evan Longoria (96, .635)

Derek Norris (72, .639)

Adam LaRoche (100, .639)

Austin Jackson (87, .640)

Nick Castellanos (87, .640)

Aaron Hill (89, .640)

Coco Crisp (80, .641)

Kendrys Morales (57, .643)

Stephen Vogt (59, .644)

Daniel Murphy (97, .646)

Domonic Brown (67, .646)

Josh Donaldson (131, .646)

Erick Aybar (87, .647)

Garrett Jones (101, .650)

Gregor Blanco (63, .651)

No method is perfect, but this method above can help point you in the right direction for finding a list of some players that probably will see an uptick in their 2015 performance.