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Even in Baseball, Only the Strong Survive

The right combination of exit velocity and launch angle leads to the highest value batted balls. That's not an arbitrary definition: in Statcast's review of all batted balls in MLB, balls hit with the launch angle of 24 to 33 degrees, coupled with exit velocity of 100 mph or greater, produced a minimum .500 BA and 1,500 slugging percentage. But what's interesting is that at even just two ticks less, 98 MPH, the launch angle already narrows to 26-30 degrees. This confirms what is widely known: weaker hitters have to be much more precise in their contact to generate the same power numbers as their stronger brethren. This is also why strength becomes all the more important as the levels go up: weak but highly skilled hitters can have success and even good power numbers versus high school and weak pitching conferences in college, but they fail to succeed at higher levels when the quality of pitching makes it near impossible to consistently square up balls. Squaring balls for a skilled player isn't hard against 78-82 pitching, but today's modern MLB pitching fusillade of 98 mph fastballs with movement, 92 mph sliders and assorted other filth is a whole other matter. Hitters at the elite levels have to have the strength to be able to slightly miss a ball, and still hit it with authority. After hitting 41 HR's in 2015, Al MVP Mike Trout was asked how many of those he hit squarely. He replied, "3-4". As can be seen from the the data, there is no substitute for raw power for hitters. 

Semper Fi



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