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Exit velocity and trajectory: hard hit% leaders as of Thursday, April 16

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a summary of hard hit% that I wrote in this introductory article at the beginning of the season:

For those who haven't heard of it, hard hit% is the % of a player's at bats that end in a hard hit ball. Hard hit balls are classified by video trackers as batted balls with exit velocities of 90+ mph with strong trajectory and contact on the sweet spot of the barrel.

The baseball industry is more interested in measures like exit velocity and trajectory than actual statistical production in trying to predict future performance for players, so I think this is the direction the fantasy game needs to go, too. Hard hit% bridges that gap.

We want to target hitters with a high hard hit% and pitchers with a low hard hit% because the harder a ball is hit, 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.

The stat can help give us a better idea of the process behind a hitter's production, and can show which players may be hitting into either good or bad luck.

Hard hit% needs to be combined with other statistics to paint a complete picture of player evaluation, but it's an excellent tool by itself to point us towards players to target.

The average MLB hitter hits the ball hard in about 15-16% of his at bats. Keep in mind that this is a very small sample size.

Top 40 (min. 25 at bats)

1. Freddie Freeman, 34.3%

2. Adrian Gonzalez, 33.3%

3. Will Middlebrooks, 32.4%

4. Lorenzo Cain, 29.0%

5. Mark Trumbo, 28.1%

6. Corey Dickerson, 27.8%

7. Nolan Arenado, 26.5%

8. Carlos Gomez, 26.5%

9. Robinson Cano, 26.3%

10. Mitch Moreland, 25.9%

11. Steve Pearce, 25.8%

12. Luis Valbuena, 25.8%

13. Troy Tulowitzki, 25.7%

14. Adam Jones, 25.0%

15. Jed Lowire, 25.0%

16. Kendrys Morales, 25.0%

17. Carlos Santana, 25.0%

18. Mike Trout, 25.0%

19. Miguel Cabrera, 24.3%

20. Mark Canha, 24.3%

21. Matt Carpenter, 24.1%

22. Jorge Soler, 24.1%

23. Mark Teixeira, 24.1%

24. Brian McCann, 24.0%

25. Lucas Duda, 23.5%

26. Howie Kendrick, 23.5%

27. Joey Votto, 23.5%

28. Jose Abreu, 23.3%

29. Kyle Seager, 22.9%

30. Devon Travis, 22.6%

31. Buster Posey, 21.9%

32. Todd Frazier, 21.6%

33. Derek Norris, 21.6%

34. Justin Upton, 21.6%

35. Kevin Kiermaier, 21.4%

36. Ian Kinsler, 21.1%

37. Marcus Semien, 21.1%

38. Adam Lind, 20.7%

39. Starling Marte, 20.7%

40. Andrew McCutchen, 20.7%