Sarris: A meaningful early-season hitting stat you should care about

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on April 5, 2019:

Early​ season fantasy​ decisions are the worst. Especially when​ it​ comes to hitting.​ Your stud​ may look like​ a dud,​ but​​ it’s only been a week of games, and none of his statistics are really reliable yet. Not even the stats that do become meaningful quickly — like swing rate stats, and ground ball rates — are useful right now.

And yet … there is one stat that can make a difference right now: exit velocity. That’s the beauty of exit velocity. Like pitch velocity, knowing a guy can hit the ball really hard can be important. Hit one ball hard enough, and you can actually make a case that your projection for the rest of the season should change.

Rob Arthur looked at this phenomenon for The Athletic last year and found that “For every mile per hour above 108, a hitter is projected to gain about 6 points of OPS relative to their predicted number.” Now, this may be true for PECOTA and not for other projection systems that include more Statcast data, but at the very least it’s eye-opening about the value of one really hard hit ball.

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Originally published: April 5, 2019. Last Updated: April 5, 2019.