Yesterday, JT wrote an indepth look at the current Rays roster's exit velocity, and in the comment section he made a very straightforward statement: "hitting the ball hard will produce better results."
JT is right.
Hitting the ball hard is not only important, but it improves the results. As the statcast era dawns on MLB, we are able to step forward as the observing public from mere PitchFX data to an array of data points around player performance.
With that comes exit velocity, and JT is right on. Hitting the ball hard helps players get better.
Here's one investigation from William Sopolsky over at The Hardball Times that drew that conclusion when comparing players to their Steamer projections:
When used in conjunction with Steamer, the impact of exit velocity was still significant, both statistically and practically. We can expect a hitter to outperform his Steamer projected wOBA by roughly three points for each mph of previous-season exit velocity. (We found a similar effect when using either ZiPS projections or an average of ZiPS and Steamer.)
The work performed is likewise straightforward but also in depth, it's worth your time.
It does not take into account some important other aspects, like launch angles*, bat speed and foot speed, situational hitting and more, but there does seem to be an encouraging correlation.
*Case in point: Pedro Alvarez can hit the ball very hard, but that's no guarantee of good contact. This is just one piece of the puzzle.
As for which Rays players might be improving, it might be interesting to see which players are moving their exit velocity and their contact rates in a positive direction. That might tell us if Steven Souza's 35%+ K-rate should be a death knell or not.
More to come, I'm sure.