Photo Credit: Boston Herald
The Boston Red Sox currently have three players among the top ten in hitting the ball hard per at bat. Another interesting stat from MLB Statcast via The Baseball Savant.
You know you shouldn’t do it, but you do. For example, you come upon the snail movement in traffic and see the flurry of flashing lights ahead and as you approach you slow down and gawk. Human nature some would say. Others would say a morbid fascination with the possible misery of others. I admittedly do baseball gawking at MLB Statcast.
Statcast implements the latest in technology to give a very detailed look at what is often the most obvious. Last season and this season I occasionally look at Sprint Speed. To even the casual observer the obvious jumps out such as Mookie Betts is fast and Christian Vazquez is not. This season I have another shiny object grabbing my attention – brls/PA.
The cut to the chase definition is this metric shows the highest value on batted balls. That, of course, means well-struck balls. Barrel up has been a long-used baseball term and I remember from my youthful days attempting to discover how to hit (I failed) the coach showing me “The meat of the bat” or the barrel.
Looking at the chart that is linked at the end of paragraph two there is a wealth of information gathered on balls being hit. Exit velocity, distance, and brls/PA. The Red Sox have three out of ten (as of 5/19) in the top ten on brls/PA. J.D. Martinez (15.6) is first, Mookie Betts (14.0) is third, and a surprise is Xander Bogaerts (12.3) in the eighth position. Impressive having three in such a category.
The Red Sox trio is well ahead of future free agent’s desirables as Manny Machado (18) and Bryce Harper (23). Mike Trout is further down the list at 30. The list is – to use a popular political term – fluid. A hot streak and up the list you go, or a horrific slump and you sink.
Since the list is dominated by power what is also present is the “Punch and Judy” hitters – another archaic baseball term for those you live and die by not hitting the ball with ill intent. Dee Gordon is hitting .306 for the Mariners but is a zero on the barrel board, but quite high on Sprint Speed.
Statcast implements many of its current stats into those picturesque videos on MLB.com. This is just another outcropping from that and does provide a solid base for the obvious.