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Exit velocity and trajectory: These MLB hitters have squared the ball up most often through July 10

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, ESPN stat guru Mark Simon popularized 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 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 does not use exit velocity. FG's hard% is also a percentage of balls in play rather than a percentage of at bats.

We want to target hitters with a high % of at bats ending with a hard hit ball and pitchers with a low % of at bats ending with a hard hit ball 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. For hitters, generating hard contact is a way to make run scoring more likely.

The average MLB hitter hits the ball hard in about 15% of his at bats. These hitters have ended the highest percentage of their at bats with a hard hit ball in 2015 (min. 250 ABs):

1. Andrew McCutchen, 24.7%

2. Giancarlo Stanton, 24.4%

3. Bryce Harper, 24.2%

4. Paul Goldschmidt, 24%

5. Freddie Freeman, 23.2%

6. Mike Trout, 22.7%

7. Brian Dozier, 22.4%

8. Prince Fielder, 22.2%

9. JD Martinez, 22%

10. Anthony Rizzo, 22%

11. Miguel Cabrera, 20.9%

12. Nolan Arenado, 20.6%

13. Ryan Howard, 20.3%

14. Jose Bautista, 20.1%

15. Adrian Gonzalez, 20%

16. Albert Pujols, 19.9%

17. Carlos Santana, 19.9%

18. Brandon Crawford, 19.7%

19. Todd Frazier, 19.6%

20. Brandon Moss, 19.6%

21. Joc Pederson, 19.6%

22. George Springer, 19.6%

23. Adrian Beltre, 19.5%

24. Jay Bruce, 19.4%

25. Jason Kipnis, 19.3%

26. Josh Donaldson, 19.2%

27. Luis Valbuena, 19.2%

28. Brandon Belt, 19%

29. Lorenzo Cain, 19%

30. Yoenis Cespedes, 18.8%

31. Lucas Duda, 18.8%

32. Troy Tulowitzki, 18.7%

33. Robinson Cano, 18.5%

34. Torii Hunter, 18%

35. Nelson Cruz, 17.9%

36. Jimmy Paredes, 17.9%

37. Buster Posey, 17.9%

38. David Ortiz, 17.8%

39. Chris Davis, 17.7%

40. Mookie Betts, 17.6%