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Exit velocity and trajectory: % of ABs with a hard hit ball leaders as of Saturday, June 6: Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez, more

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, ESPN stat guru Mark Simon popularized a statistic called hard hit rate. It's a stat that combines measures like exit velocity and trajectory, telling us which hitters are ending their at bats with good process (hard contact). For those who haven't heard of it, hard hit rate 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. This is a different stat than the new FanGraphs hard%, which is a percentage of balls in play rather than a percentage of at bats. It's also classified by different video trackers.

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.

Top 40 (min. 150 ABs)

1. Paul Goldschmidt, 27.2%

2. Freddie Freeman, 25.5%

3. Brian Dozier, 24.8%

4. Adrian Gonzalez, 24.2%

5. Lucas Duda, 23.8%

6. Giancarlo Stanton, 23.5%

7. Bryce Harper, 23.5%

8. Andrew McCutchen, 23.3%

9. Brandon Belt, 23.1%

10. Miguel Cabrera, 22.6%

11. Joc Pederson, 22.5%

12. Prince Fielder, 21.9%

13. Anthony Rizzo, 21.5%

14. Carlos Santana, 21%

15. Brandon Moss, 20.8%

16. Derek Norris, 20.8%

17. Troy Tulowitzki, 20.8%

18. Nolan Arenado, 20.4%

19. Adrian Beltre, 20.4%

20. Ryan Howard, 20.2%

21. Josh Donaldson, 20.1%

22. Mike Trout, 20.1%

23. Todd Frazier, 20%

24. Yoenis Cespedes, 19.8%

25. Brandon Crawford, 19.7%

26. Kyle Seager, 19.5%

27. Jose Bautista, 19.4%

28. Jason Kipnis, 19.4%

29. A.J. Pollock, 19.4%

30. George Springer, 19.4%

31. Denard Span, 19.2%

32. Will Middlebrooks, 19.1%

33. Josh Reddick, 19%

34. Luis Valbuena, 18.9%

35. Albert Pujols, 18.8%

36. Stephen Vogt, 18.8%

37. Mark Trumbo, 18.7%

38. Matt Carpenter, 18.6%

39. Buster Posey, 18.4%

40. Jay Bruce, 18.3%