What’s up, party people! Welcome to the first edition of Sabermetric of the Day here on the greatest blog of all time. (That’s not even our opinion. Our mom told us so.) Today, we’re going to talk about a sabermetric that most baseballers are pretty much familiar with at this point because it is really obviously interesting if you like the greatest sport of all time.
Batted ball exit velocity is defined as the speed with which a vampire bat can dive bomb a baseball onto an unsuspecting football fan’s head. Or maybe it isn’t. You never know. It could also be the speed that a baseball leaves a hitter’s bat once it is hit into the field of play. Since we don’t know anything about bats, the animals, we’re going to tell you about the second definition.
As you could imagine, batted ball exit velocity can be a really good predictor of how good a player is. This is because Major League Baseball players are scared wussies and they have all agreed that it does not reflect on who you are as a person. Or maybe it isn’t. You never know. It could also be that when you hit a ball stupid hard, fielders have less time to react to it so they can’t intercept it unless it is hit right at them. And, in some extreme cases, the ball flies soooo far that it flies over the fence where no one is allowed to catch it.
To demonstrate this fact, first, we’re going to pull up the numbers of the three hitters with the highest average batted ball exit velocities to this point of this year.
Aaron Judge: 94.6 mph
Now, you may want to be sitting down for when we tell you this one because it’s pretty shocking. The highest average batted ball exit speed comes from a player who you might not have heard of before: Aaron Judge. He is the owner of a .277/.412/.591 slash line with 45 dingers and 101 RBIs. His average home run distance is 415 feet and you can bet he has hit the furthest ball of the 2017 campaign at 495 feet. Yes, that means the ball was hit from home plate and then it landed 495 feet away from home plate and yes, a human being did that with a piece of wood. At least we think he’s human. We’re not sure, really.
Nelson Cruz: 93.0 mph
The owner of the second highest average batted ball exit velocity (AKA the first loser, am I right?) comes to us from the most Northwesterly team in the MLB in the form of Nelson Cruz. This savvy veteran has been crushing balls for nearly a decade now and pretty obviously has something nice going on for himself. The say that Safeco isn’t the easiest place to hit in the world but Nelson Cruz and his 33 jacks this year don’t really seem to care. His best bolt this year was launched a full 482 feet and he’s tied with Judge for having an average homer distance at 414 feet. His .285 average and 110 RBIs (and 1 SB, love that) make him an extremely productive offensive force.
Miguel Sano: 92.8 mph
So here’s the deal. Miguel Sano is a giant monster person and he hits tanks. Now, with that said, it is shocking that he isn’t a larger household name. All of the baseballs that he has left behind him that are wincing in pain agree that his 92.8 average exit velo is nothing to snub your nose at. In fact, they all tell tales of their long lost brother who got launched 468 feet, never to be seen again. That’s his furthest home run but his average dinger distance is only a foot shorter than Cruz’s and Judge’s at 413 feet. Clearly, there is something to be said for Sano’s raking ability despite the fact that you may not have expected him to be the number three here.
And, now, we will continue entertaining you by showing how pitchers are affected by exit velocity, too. You seem smart. Let’s see if we can figure it out. If we were looking for the hitters with the highest exit velocities, what might we be looking for in pitchers? Hmm…
Andrew Miller: 81.0 mph
Hum, babe, Andrew Miller is a foxy mama. I think by now every hitter around the league fears this lanky grasshopper-looking stud heading out to the mound – and for good reason. With an average batted ball exit velocity at just 81.0 miles an hour, it isn’t shocking that the rest of his numbers fall right into line with this kind of dominance. The guy has just a 1.58 ERA in 57 IP and 81 SO. Just for reference, I ate 81 cookies just now as a part of my research for this article and I can confirm: 81 is a big number, especially for strikeouts.
Sean Doolittle: 81.8 mph
Hailing from Rapid City, South Dakota, this Irish animal has turned in just the second lowest exit velo for a pitcher this 2017 season. Doolittle utilizes his high spin fastball up in the zone to get hitters to swing and miss or pop pitches up that they do manage to make contact on. He’ll mix in the occasional off-speed pitch but make no mistake: This guy is about the heater. And good on him for it! He’s got a 2.61 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 48.1 IP as of today’s date and that’s just what Nationals fans are hoping to see.
Jerry Blevins: 81.9 mph
Would you look at that? Rounding out our top three pitchers is yet another left handed reliever. We might be onto something here, boys. Blevins is the holder of a 3.04 ERA and has 68 SO in 47.1 IP. So, that’s good. Clearly, those poorly struck balls are doing him favors. And the Mets are loving it, too, as Blevins delivers some nightly domination of hitters, especially lefties.
So, according to our research, it looks like there is one underlying factor to being a hitter that hits stuff really hard and a pitcher that doesn’t let people hit stuff hard at all.
If you want to be a hitter that hits stuff really hard, be, right-handed, ginormous and swing really hard.
If you want to be a pitcher that doesn’t let people hit stuff hard at all, be left-handed, a reliever, and on the skinnier end of things.