Note: this is a different statistic than FanGraphs' new hard%
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. 50 at bats)
1. A.J. Pierzynski, Atlanta Braves, 29.5%
2. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, 29.0%
3. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks, 27.9%
4. Kelly Johnson, Atlanta Braves, 26.5%
5. Brandon Moss, Cleveland Indians, 26.4%
6. Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers, 25.9%
7. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers, 25.2%
8. Derek Norris, San Diego Padres, 25.2%
9. David Peralta, Arizona Diamondbacks, 25.0%
10. Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics, 24.4%
11. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, 23.9%
12. Jed Lowrie, Houston Astros, 23.3%
13. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, 23.2%
14. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, 23.1%
15. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, 23.1%
16. Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays, 22.8%
17. Russel Martin, Toronto Blue Jays, 22.6%
18. Jimmy Paredes, Baltimore Orioles, 22.6%
19. Stephen Vogt, Oakland Athletics, 22.4%
20. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, 22.3%
21. Lucas Duda, New York Mets, 22.0%
22. Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers, 22.0%
23. Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants, 21.9%
24. Yasmani Grandal, Los Angeles Dodgers, 21.9%
25. Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics, 21.9%
26. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins, 21.8%
27. Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners, 21.6%
28. David Murphy, Cleveland Indians, 21.6%
29. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates, 21.4%
30. Luis Valbuena, Houston Astros, 21.4%
31. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, 21.3%
32. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, 21.3%
33. Jonny Gomes, Atlanta Braves, 21.2%
34. George Springer, Houston Astros, 21.2%
35. Conor Gillaspie, Chicago White Sox, 21.0%
36. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants, 20.9%
37. Adam Lind, Milwaukee Brewers, 20.8%
38. Justin Maxwell, San Francisco Giants, 20.8%
39. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians, 20.7%
40. Shin Soo Choo, Texas Rangers, 20.7%