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Exit velocity and trajectory: hard hit% leaders as of Saturday, April 25

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, ESPN stat guru Mark Simon popularized a statistic called hard hit rate (HH%). It's a stat that combines measures like exit velocity and trajectory, telling us which hitters are ending their at bats with good process. Throughout the 2015 season I will be posting some notable performances in hard hit%, both hitters and pitchers, on a weekly basis. The stat unfortunately isn't available to the public yet, so I'm going to post out as much as I'm allowed to by the video tracking service that provides it to us.

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 outcomes 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 small sample size.

Top 40 (min. 25 at bats)

1. Freddie Freeman, 33.3%

2. Kris Bryant, 31.0%

3. Jacob Lamb, 31.0%

4. Devon Travis, 30.8%

5. Eric Campbell, 29.6%

6. Adrian Gonzalez, 29.0%

7. Jake Smolinski, 28.6%

8. Justin Maxwell, 27.3%

9. Corey Dickerson, 26.7%

10. A.J. Pierzynski, 26.7%

11. Carlos Gomez, 26.5%

12. Mitch Moreland, 26.5%

13. Marcus Semien, 26.5%

14. Nolan Arenado, 25.9%

15. Jonathan Schoop, 25.9%

16. Robinson Cano, 25.8%

17. Matt Carpenter, 25.8%

18. Yangervis Solarte, 25.6%

19. Will Middlebrooks, 25.4%

20. Starling Marte, 24.5%

21. Billy Butler, 24.3%

22. Brandon Moss, 23.8%

23. Jose Abreu, 23.7%

24. Stephen Vogt, 23.5%

25. Jose Bautista, 23.4%

26. Nelson Cruz, 23.4%

27. Derek Norris, 23.4%

28. Joey Votto, 23.4%

29. Danny Espinosa, 23.3%

30. Howie Kendrick, 23.3%

31. George Springer, 23.3%

32. Lorenzo Cain, 23.2%

33. Luis Valbuena, 23.2%

34. Yoenis Cespedes, 23.1%

35. David Murphy, 22.6%

36. Jake Marisnick, 22.5%

37. Josh Reddick, 22.5%

38. Kelly Johnson, 22.2%

39. Cameron Maybin, 22.2%

40. Kyle Seager, 22.0%