As baseball fans interested in learning more about the game, we took a giant step forward with the arrival of Baseball-Reference. It’s hard to remember but there was a time when they did not update stats with the current season until the year was over. We took another step forward with FanGraphs, with all of its advanced statistics. There were others along the way, too, and the goal here is not to slight those sites. Rather, it’s that there’s another great advancement with the Statcast numbers that are now in the public domain.
One of my goals this offseason was to dive into some of the Statcast numbers. Because of my use and familiarity with B-R and FG, the Statcast numbers aren’t as convenient when trying to put together a study. They’re all there – it’s just that you have to do it manually, rather than being able to click on rows and have the numbers calculated, like you can with B-R.
Anyway, for this article, I went thru all of the Statcast box scores for the Mets in September and October and looked for all of the team’s players to produce an exit velocity (EV) of 100 or greater. The decision was made to start with EV because it’s a pretty simple concept. We used to talk about – man, he scorched that ball! Now, we can say, that ball had an EV of 110! Even Keith Hernandez, who used to openly scoff at the numbers, now realizes the value and will cite them during games.
Not all EVs are created equally. You also have to include launch angle in your calculations. A ball with an EV of 107 with a high launch angle has a good chance to be a home run. A ball with that same EV but a low single digit launch angle might easily be an out. In an effort to not make any more numbers than necessary here, launch angle was not recorded. But xBA, which includes launch angle, is here. xBA is calculated using both EV and launch angle and comparing it to historic numbers with those two inputs.
Pulling numbers out of the air – if a ball has a 100 EV and a 15-degree launch angle, Statcast goes back and compares all balls hit with those same numbers and calculates an expected batting average. The idea is that xBA takes out defense and ballpark and instead looks at the skill level of the hitter. In a way, it’s similar to FIP. Regardless, the thing to remember is that it’s possible that a player can hit the ball with the EV and launch angle that has an xBA of .980 and still make an out. It’s overwhelmingly unlikely, but not impossible.
The Mets had 194 balls hit in what we call the final month of the season with an EV of 100 or greater. It’s too much to include all 194 in one chart. So, will break it down to five charts – four with 39 players and the final one with 38. Here are the 39 balls with the highest EV for the Mets in September:
|9/7 G2||Pete Alonso||112.5||single||.310|
|9/7 G2||Daniel Vogelbach||109.1||single||.850|
|10/4 G2||Francisco Alvarez||108.9||HR||1.000|
|9/7 G2||James McCann||108.1||single||.860|
|10/4 G2||Francisco Alvarez||107.8||double||.670|
|10/4 G2||James McCann||107.1||out||.310|
In what should come as a shock to no one, Alonso had the five-highest EVs for the team. But in perhaps a bit of a surprise, Vientos broke the monopoly with a ball hit 111.9 mph. An indication of how important it is to hit the ball hard are the results we find in this chart. The top 22 hardest-hit balls all resulted in hits, including 10 HR. The ball with the highest EV that resulted in an out was Lindor’s ball with an EV of 107.5 on 9/7. But that ball had an xBA of just .240, so it’s not a surprise that it resulted in an out.
Here’s how it broke down by player:
11 – Alonso
5 – Lindor
4 – McCann, Vientos
3 – Escobar, Nimmo
2 – Alvarez, Canha, Naquin, Vogelbach
1 – Ruf
It was quite a shock to me that McCann had four of the 39-highest EVs in September. And it’s encouraging to see Alvarez and Vientos on here, too. Alonso hit the ball 93 times in September, meaning he had an EV of 106.7 or more 12% of the time. Alvarez hit the ball eight times, giving him an EV of 106.7 or greater 25% of the time. The numbers for Vientos are 24 and 17%, respectively.
|9/7 G2||Tyler Naquin||106||out||.570|
|10/4 G2||Francisco Lindor||105.1||HR||.650|
In our second batch, we see the first eight all resulted in outs. It was particularly tough for McCann, who made an out on a ball hit with an xBA of .900 – ouch. In all, there were 20 hits and 19 outs in this grouping. And 11 of the 20 hits were home runs.
Lindor led the way with eight entries on this second list.
|9/7 G2||Tyler Naquin||104||out||.710|
|9/7 G2||Francisco Lindor||103.4||double||.730|
|10/4 G2||Jeff McNeil||103.1||HR||.760|
|9/7 G2||Daniel Vogelbach||102.7||out||.250|
|9/7 G2||Mark Canha||102.7||double||.890|
Naquin hit into some bad luck here. He had balls hit with an xBA of .710 and .770 that were both turned into outs. Seven of the 24 hits in this group were homers, including two by Nido
Speaking of Nido, he led this grouping with seven balls hit between 102.4 and 104.1 mph.
|10/4 G2||Brandon Nimmo||102.1||double||.480|
|9/7 G2||Pete Alonso||101.8||out||.520|
Earlier, we saw Alonso hit a HR on a ball with an xBA of 1.000 – meaning possibly that it was a ball that was going to go out in any park. This time he had a HR on a ball with an xBA of .600, so it’s safe to say that one wouldn’t have been out in every park.
Nimmo and Escobar pace this grouping with seven hits apiece.
|10/4 G2||Mark Canha||101.4||single||.730|
|10/4 G2||Jeff McNeil||101.2||out||.680|
|9/7 G2||Jeff McNeil||100.8||single||.920|
There was just one homer in this last grouping, by Alonso with a 100.3 EV. This was not the lowest EV for a homer in September, as at least Nimmo hit one with an EV in the 98 range. There were more outs (20) than hits (18) in this last grouping. McNeil ran into an out on a ball with an xBA of .680, which was quite the contrast to the out by Alonso that had a .010 xBA. McNeil had the most appearances on this list with seven.
Without bogging this down with another chart, here were the appearances of players on all 194 balls hit in September with an EV of 100 or greater:
27 – Lindor
24 – Nimmo
23 – Alonso
22 – Escobar
15 – McCann
14 – Canha, McNeil
12 – Naquin, Nido
10 – Vientos
7 – Vogelbach
4 – Guillorme, Ruf
3 – Alvarez, Marte
It’s a bit surprising that Alonso didn’t lead the way but he wasn’t far from the lead. And it might be a bit comforting to know that if the Carlos Correa deal doesn’t end up happening, that Escobar showed in September that there was still plenty of life left in his bat. McCann’s performance is shocking. He hit the ball 38 times and 15 of them had an EV of 100 or greater, which means that 39% of his balls were hit this hard. Maybe there’s still life in his bat, too. Good luck to the Orioles finding out.
Finally, let’s break this down by xBA, showing how many hits Mets players got:
Under .199: 1-9 — .111
.200s: 5-21 — .230
.300s: 6-16 — .375
.400s: 10-23 — .435
.500s: 9-24 — .375
.600s: 23-32 — .719
.700s: 22-25 — .880
.800s: 24-25 — .960
.900s: 12-14 — .857
1.000: 5-5 – 1.000
When the Mets hit a ball in September with an EV of 100 or greater, they were 117-194, which works out to a .603 AVG. Not too shabby. They hit in some bad luck with the 24 balls hit for an xBA in the .500s and the 14 balls hit with an xBA in the .900s. But that was more than made up for in the better-than-expected outcomes on the 32 balls hit in the .600s, 25 in the .700s and the 25 in the .800s