You can find exit velocity — miles per hour off the bat — in a lot of places, including Statcast via MLB.com. I used some of those resources, including PitchfX, to answer a question I had. We often hear and read about exit velocity, usually on home runs. But sometimes balls hit very hard do not leave the yard or even land for hits. I wondered how often balls that leave the bat at certain velocities do indeed fall for hits.
Rather than search and calculate for the entire league over multiple seasons, I focused on the Seattle Mariners and the pre-break 2015 season. I also added the same data for two star right-handed batters and two star left-handed batters, for comparison’s sake.
Hit Percentage on Exit Velocity at 95 mph or higher
Robinson Cano: 46 hits on 97 balls hit 95 mph or higher (47.4 %)
Kyle Seager: 42 of 74 (56.8 %)
Nelson Cruz: 48 of 96 (50 %)
Dustin Ackley: 24 of 51 (47.1 %)
Austin Jackson: 23 of 55 (41.8 %)
Brad Miller: 36 of 68 (52.9 %)
Mark Trumbo (SEA only): 8 of 20 (40 %)
Seth Smith: 36 of 59 (61 %)
Mike Zunino: 22 of 41 (53.7 %)
Logan Morrison: 32 of 86 (37.2 %)
Mike Trout: 60 of 94 (63.8 %)
Albert Pujols: 49 of 94 (52.1 %)
Stephen Vogt: 31 of 53 (58.4 %)
Joey Votto: 42 of 73 (57.5 %)
Hit Percentage on Exit Velocity at 90 mph or higher
Robinson Cano: 49 of 111 (44.1 %)
Kyle Seager: 53 of 112 (47.3 %)
Nelson Cruz:55 of 93 (59.1 %)
Dustin Ackley: 25 of 67 (37.3 %)
Austin Jackson: 26 of 72 (36.1 %)
Brad Miller: 37 of 80 (46.2 %)
Mark Trumbo (SEA only): 11 of 30 (36.7 %)
Seth Smith: 40 of 74 (54 %)
Mike Zunino: 25 of 53 (47.2 %)
Logan Morrison: 39 of 113 (37.2 %)
Mike Trout: 63 of 115 (54.8 %)
Albert Pujols: 54 of 129 (41.9 %)
Stephen Vogt: 39 of 79 (58.4 %)
Joey Votto: 47 of 96 (49.0 %)
Ackley ranks No. 16 in Major League Baseball with an average exit velocity on all hits of 93.5 mph. Morrison ranks No. 41 in the same category at 92.1 mph. Cano, Seager and Cruz are not ranked in the top 50.
What I don’t have the answers to are questions such as “at what velocity most struck in Major League Baseball do balls end up as hits?” and “exactly why does one player with the same exit velocity statistics, totals, hit percentage, average, etc., produce at a drastically lesser level”?
What we do know, partly due to data such as the above, is the more often balls are hit hard (if hard is 90 mph or higher) the more likely a batter is to get a hit of some kind.
We also know that Logan Morrison is either incredibly unlucky, or he hits too many of his hard-hit balls on the ground and into the shift. I think it’s a little of both, more of the latter than the former.
Jason A. Churchill
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