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Rays on the HitFX Statcast leaderboard

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Who's hitting it hard? Who's not?

Who's been hitting the ball hard?
Who's been hitting the ball hard?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball Prospectus has brought together Statcast data into an easy-to-use format to measure hitting and pitching exit velocity data, and there are a few Rays standouts that immediately pop off the page.

Here is the glossary for the stats, which can be listed for hitters or against pitchers:

  • Adj Exit Velo - A player's median exit velocity adjusted for opponent and park.
  • xLWTS - Expected Linear Weights created by the exit velocity and launch angle of each batted ball measured by Statcast, adjusted for opponent and ballpark.
  • xLWTS_RT - xLWTS per batted ball measured by Statcast.
  • LWTS - A player's actual Linear Weights on batted ball measured by Statcast, adjusted for opponent and ballpark.
  • LWTS_RT - Adjusted LWTS per batted ball measured by Statcast.
  • LWTSvsExp - The difference between a player's total LWTS and xLWTS.
  • BaBa - Number of batted balls measured by Statcast.

Because we are so early in the season, batted balls are a low number, with few hitters reaching above 100 in 2016. However, the rate stats (_RT) are helpful guides for who has performed best per batted ball.

Hitting HitFX

To kick it off, here are your Rays hitters, sorted by adjusted exit velocity. Unsurprisingly, Corey Dickerson tops the list, but Brad Miller is a surprise third. Overall numbers in MLB included:

No. Name Adj Exit Velo xLWTS xLWTS_RT LWTS LWTS_RT LWTSvsExp BaBa
43 Corey Dickerson 94.4 4.7 0.100 4.5 0.096 0.1 47
49 Logan Forsythe 94.1 8.2 0.113 7.4 0.101 -0.4 73
68 Brad Miller 93.8 4.8 0.091 3.5 0.068 -0.9 52
71 Steven Souza 93.7 6.0 0.118 5.2 0.103 -0.5 51
90 Curtis Casali 93.4 2.9 0.097 2.8 0.093 0.1 30
98 Evan Longoria 93.3 7.0 0.090 5.6 0.072 -1.0 78
173 Brandon Guyer 92.3 2.6 0.080 2.7 0.086 0.4 32
262 Kevin Kiermaier 91.7 3.6 0.059 3.9 0.064 0.7 61
380 Logan Morrison 91.0 2.7 0.067 1.3 0.033 -1.1 40
429 Tim Beckham 90.5 1.3 0.070 1.0 0.056 -0.1 18
491 Steve Pearce 89.6 2.1 0.044 4.1 0.084 2.3 49
507 Hank Conger 89.2 1.2 0.051 1.2 0.050 0.1 24
530 Desmond Jennings 88.7 1.1 0.022 1.7 0.032 0.9 53

Using the "vs" column, we can see that Morrison and Longoria have underperformed expectations based on their exit velocity, while Steve Pearce has significantly overperformed. I'm not sure how much this data speaks to sustainability thus far, but it's an interesting clue to why some players might be getting nods from the manager (Guyer, Miller, Pearce) over their counterparts (Jennings, Morrison) as of late.

As for expectations, here how the Rays rank overall in expected hitFX (velo, launch angle), sorted per batted ball:

No. Name Adj Exit Velo xLWTS xLWTS_RT BaBa
36 Steven Souza 93.7 6.0 0.118 51
46 Logan Forsythe 94.1 8.2 0.113 73
86 Corey Dickerson 94.4 4.7 0.100 47
98 Curtis Casali 93.4 2.9 0.097 30
126 Brad Miller 93.8 4.8 0.091 52
130 Evan Longoria 93.3 7.0 0.090 78
188 Brandon Guyer 92.3 2.6 0.080 32
281 Tim Beckham 90.5 1.3 0.070 18
321 Logan Morrison 91.0 2.7 0.067 40
398 Kevin Kiermaier 91.7 3.6 0.059 61
458 Hank Conger 89.2 1.2 0.051 24
503 Steve Pearce 89.6 2.1 0.044 49
546 Desmond Jennings 88.7 1.1 0.022 53

And for actual performance thus far:

No. Name Adj Exit Velo LWTS LWTS_RT BaBa
24 Steven Souza 93.7 5.2 0.103 51
27 Logan Forsythe 94.1 7.4 0.101 73
43 Corey Dickerson 94.4 4.5 0.096 47
53 Curtis Casali 93.4 2.8 0.093 30
73 Brandon Guyer 92.3 2.7 0.086 32
82 Steve Pearce 89.6 4.1 0.084 49
161 Evan Longoria 93.3 5.6 0.072 78
227 Brad Miller 93.8 3.5 0.068 52
316 Kevin Kiermaier 91.7 3.9 0.064 61
447 Tim Beckham 90.5 1.0 0.056 18
483 Hank Conger 89.2 1.2 0.050 24
546 Logan Morrison 91.0 1.3 0.033 40
551 Desmond Jennings 88.7 1.7 0.032 53

That's six Rays hitters in the top-100 in actual velo and launch angle per batted ball thus far! If we had filtered on LWTS, the stars for overall production are Forsythe (32 actual LWTS, 54 expected) and Longoria (99 actual, 84 expected).

Pitching HitFX

You may not be surprised to know that on the pitching side, Dana Eveland has allowed the weakest contact, while Archer has allowed the hardest contact thus far:

No. Name Adj Exit Velo xLWTS xLWTS_RT LWTS LWTS_RT LWTSvsExp BaBa
6 Dana Eveland 90.2 1.4 0.068 1.4 0.068 0.1 21
106 Drew Smyly 91.3 6.7 0.071 6.6 0.069 0.4 95
158 Xavier Cedeno 91.5 1.1 0.071 1.1 0.066 0.0 16
167 Jhan Marinez 91.5 0.7 0.073 0.6 0.067 0.0 9
232 Erasmo Ramirez 91.7 4.5 0.067 4.1 0.060 -0.1 68
251 Blake Snell 91.7 0.7 0.073 0.6 0.065 0.0 10
268 Matt Moore 91.7 8.1 0.076 7.3 0.069 -0.2 106
281 Alex Colome 91.8 1.8 0.072 1.7 0.067 0.0 25
321 Ryan Webb 91.9 1.6 0.073 1.6 0.071 0.1 22
334 Matt Andriese 91.9 1.4 0.076 1.1 0.064 -0.1 18
379 Danny Farquhar 92.0 1.1 0.080 1.0 0.070 -0.1 14
387 Enny Romero 92.1 1.6 0.070 1.4 0.062 0.0 23
449 Steven Geltz 92.4 2.2 0.074 2.0 0.066 -0.1 30
462 Jake Odorizzi 92.5 8.9 0.081 6.8 0.062 -1.5 110
464 Chris Archer 92.5 8.4 0.089 7.2 0.077 -0.6 94

The only real underperformer in terms of this HitFX analysis is Odorizzi, with a -1.6 for his "vsEXP" score. Otherwise, you might think this data lines up pretty well.

However, when we isolate per batted ball data, expectations flip.

Expected performance from Archer ranks the third highest for per batted ball data, and Erasmo Ramirez ranks lowest on the Rays in xLWTS_RT:

No. Name Adj Exit Velo xLWTS xLWTS_RT BaBa
3 Chris Archer 92.5 8.4 0.089 94
56 Jake Odorizzi 92.5 8.9 0.081 110
68 Danny Farquhar 92.0 1.1 0.080 14
145 Matt Moore 91.7 8.1 0.076 106
154 Matt Andriese 91.9 1.4 0.076 18
233 Steven Geltz 92.4 2.2 0.074 30
245 Jhan Marinez 91.5 0.7 0.073 9
260 Blake Snell 91.7 0.7 0.073 10
268 Ryan Webb 91.9 1.6 0.073 22
301 Alex Colome 91.8 1.8 0.072 25
319 Drew Smyly 91.3 6.7 0.071 95
325 Xavier Cedeno 91.5 1.1 0.071 16
374 Enny Romero 92.1 1.6 0.070 23
397 Dana Eveland 90.2 1.4 0.068 21
422 Erasmo Ramirez 91.7 4.5 0.067 68

And the same holds true in actual per batted ball data as well:

No. Name Adj Exit Velo LWTS LWTS_RT BaBa
10 Chris Archer 92.5 7.2 0.077 94
95 Ryan Webb 91.9 1.6 0.071 22
113 Danny Farquhar 92.0 1.0 0.070 14
148 Matt Moore 91.7 7.3 0.069 106
174 Drew Smyly 91.3 6.6 0.069 95
222 Dana Eveland 90.2 1.4 0.068 21
250 Jhan Marinez 91.5 0.6 0.067 9
261 Alex Colome 91.8 1.7 0.067 25
310 Steven Geltz 92.4 2.0 0.066 30
325 Xavier Cedeno 91.5 1.1 0.066 16
357 Blake Snell 91.7 0.6 0.065 10
386 Matt Andriese 91.9 1.1 0.064 18
430 Jake Odorizzi 92.5 6.8 0.062 110
436 Enny Romero 92.1 1.4 0.062 23
459 Erasmo Ramirez 91.7 4.1 0.060 68

Erasmo is allowing some nicely hit baseballs, in terms of exit velocity and launch angle, while Archer is doing the opposite. Outside the HitFX, though, the narrative feels the opposite.

Using LWTS, all four Rays starters rank in the top-100 by these metrics thus far, and do particularly well for what might be expected performance, given these Linear Weights:

Name LWTS No. Actual xLWTS No. Exp
Matt Moore 7.3 34 8.1 28
Chris Archer 7.2 38 8.4 17
Jake Odorizzi 6.8 52 8.9 12
Drew Smyly 6.6 62 6.7 75

Those are some impressive rankings in overall performance, despite per batted ball rates. Using the same metric, Erasmo Ramirez is the highest ranking Rays reliever (4.1 Actual - 139 overall, 4.5 Expected - 133 overall).

What does all of this mean? The Rays pitchers are getting work done, even if the per batted ball stats aren't encouraging.