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These MLB hitters have squared the ball up most often in 2015

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 high exit velocities, strong trajectory and contact on the sweet spot of the barrel. This is a different stat than the new FanGraphs hard%, which uses a percentage of balls in play rather than a percentage of at bats. It is also classified by different video trackers.

We want to target hitters with a high % of at bats ending with a hard hit ball because the more often the ball is hit hard, 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.

League average on this stat is about 15%.

These 25 hitters have squared the ball up most often in 2015 (min. 300 ABs):

1. Andrew McCutchen, 22.7%

2. Bryce Harper, 21.7%

3. Paul Goldschmidt, 21.3%

4. Miguel Cabrera, 21.2%

5. Freddie Freeman, 21.2%

6. Anthony Rizzo, 20.8%

7. Nolan Arenado, 20.2%

8. Prince Fielder, 20.2%

9. Adrian Gonzalez, 19.9%

10. Jose Bautista, 19.7%

11. Adrian Beltre, 19.7%

12. Mike Trout, 19.7%

13. JD Martinez, 19.6%

14. David Ortiz, 19.6%

15. David Peralta, 19.6%

16. Yoenis Cespedes, 19.3%

17. Ryan Zimmerman, 19.3%

18. Carlos Santana, 19.2%

19. Edwin Encarnacion, 19.1%

20. Robinson Cano, 19%

21. Luis Valbuena, 19%

22. Josh Donaldson, 18.8%

23. Justin Turner, 18.8%

24. Nelson Cruz, 18.7%

25. Brian Dozier, 18.4%