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These relief pitchers were most difficult to square up in 2015

Perhaps some potential new closers are on this list for the 2016 fantasy baseball season.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Identifying non closer relief pitchers that were toughest to hit hard, combined with using other statistics like strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate, can help point a fantasy owner toward potential breakout closers next year.

One way to classify which relievers were most difficult to square up is to use a statistic called hard hit rate, which is the % of a player's at bats that end in a hard hit ball. Hard hit balls are subjectively classified by video trackers from an MLB scouting service as batted balls that appear to have high exit velocities, strong trajectory and contact on the sweet spot of the barrel. This is a different stat than the new FanGraphs hard%, which uses a percentage of balls in play rather than a percentage of at bats. It is also classified by different video trackers.

The more often a hitter generates a hard hit ball, the more likely strong offensive production occurs. The batting average on hard hit balls is over .700. Approximately 100% of home runs, 80% of triples and 70% of doubles are hard hit, while only 30% of singles are hard hit. For pitchers, limiting hard contact is a way to make run scoring less likely.

League average on this stat is about 15%.

The 30 most difficult relievers to square up in 2015 were (min. 800 pitches):

1. Aroldis Chapman, 5.9%

2. Zach Britton, 6.7%

3. Andrew Miller, 7.3%

4. Darren O'Day, 7.6%

5. Jim Johnson, 7.7%

6. Dellin Betances, 8%

7. Craig Kimbrel, 8.3%

8. Jeurys Familia, 8.4%

9. Daniel Jennings, 8.4%

10. Sam Dyson, 8.6%

11. Jacob Diekman, 8.8%

12. Sergio Romo, 8.8%

13. Jose Alvarez, 9.1%

14. Luke Gregerson, 9.3%

15. Jeremy Jeffress, 9.3%

16. Blake Treinen, 9.8%

17. Brad Brach, 10%

18. AJ Ramos, 10.2%

19. Drew Storen, 10.2%

20. Pedro Strop, 10.3%

21. Kenneth Giles, 10.4%

22. Hector Rondon, 10.4%

23. Ryan Madson, 10.5%

24. Joaquin Benoit, 10.6%

25. Kelvin Herrera, 10.7%

26. Fernando Rodriguez, 10.7%

27. Josh Fields, 10.8%

28. Pat Neshek, 10.8%

29. Tony Watson, 10.8%

30. Wade Davis, 10.9%