The Top 10 Batter HardHit% Leaders — 8/17/20 by Mike Podhorzer August 17, 2020 Statcast metrics have arrived! So let’s dive right in, starting with the HardHit% (HH%) leaders. As per Statcast, a batter’s hard hit rate is the percentage of batted balls that were hit at 95 MPH or more. While this data would be even more useful if broken up by batted ball type (we care far more about hard hit fly balls than hard hit pop-ups or grounders), the metric still gets us most of the way there. So let’s check out the top 10 leaders and see if we find any surprises. HardHit% Leaders Name HardHit% Fernando Tatis Jr. 65.5% Teoscar Hernandez 61.7% Willson Contreras 58.8% Marcell Ozuna 56.9% Eloy Jimenez 56.6% Evan White 56.4% Corey Seager 56.1% Tyler O’Neill 55.6% Christian Walker 55.2% Miguel Cabrera 55.1% I laughed at how expensive Fernando Tatis Jr. was in drafts and auctions this season after his superb debut last year, given how much good fortune he seemingly required to post that mightily impressive .398 wOBA. Then I bought him in my local 12-team auction, and now I’m the one laughing after his insane start. I still boggles my mind how a 21-year-old who skipped Triple-A and only posted a HR/FB rate as high as 18.8% at Double-A is showing this kind of power. The fact he has raised his FB% from a below average 30.9% last year to an above average 41.4% this year means even greater home run potential, and will help to offset any decline in HR/FB rate off last year. Teoscar Hernandez made it into my seven power bats to buy cheap and he’s making those who followed the advice very happy. Too bad I wasn’t one of them 🙁 Hernandez stopped walking and is swinging and missing more than ever, but he’s hitting a ton of fly balls and hitting his batted balls harder than ever before. Just be aware that if the power slumps, he becomes pretty useless as the rest of his skills stink. It’s been a bizarre season for Willson Contreras, whose strikeout rate has skyrocketed into the high-30%, while his batted ball profile has completely shifted. He’s now hitting a ton of line drives, has yet to hit a pop-up, but is hitting flies at a career low rate. All that combined has resulted in his second lowest wOBA so far and just two home runs, even though his HH% is at a career high. For as long as Evan White is holding a starting job and struggles, I will keep asking why on Earth the Mariners thought he was ready to succeed at the Major League level. He only recorded 18 plate appearances at Triple-A, back in 2018, and was solid, but unspectacular at Double-A last year. Tatis has spoiled us to think it’s normal for hitters to jump from Double-A to the Majors and succeed right away, but it usually does not happen. There’s no reason to have thought White was one of the exceptions. The odd thing is that for as weak as his skills have been, he’s actually hitting the ball super hard. It’s too bad that with a 43.8% strikeout rate, he’s rarely putting the ball into play to take advantage of those hard hit batted balls. A surprise breakout in his first extended taste of big league action made Christian Walker an easy bust candidate, especially given the Diamondbacks options to replace him at first base. So far, he he successfully maintained his breakout performance, but the shape of it is totally different than expected. He has homered just once, despite a big HH%, driving his ISO below .200, but his BABIP has skyrocketed thanks to an elite LD% and few pop-ups. Owners bought Walker expecting nice power and a mediocre batting average, but are instead getting a nice batting average and little power. The important thing is that he’s kept his job, so give his HH%, I’d expect the home run power to return. There might be no one more exciting to see on this list than Miguel Cabrera. At age 37, it’s no surprise that his offense has been in decline, with injuries likely partly to blame. But as of now, his HH% stands at its highest mark since we have the data for, going back to 2015. It’s a big rebound off its low last year. His HR/FB rate has surged to 28.6%, but unfortunately he’s not hitting a whole lot of fly balls, and his strikeout rate has jumped to its highest mark since his 2003 debut. What this suggests to me is that he’s healthier than he’s been, but age is taking a toll on his bat speed, resulting in the increased strikeout rate. The net result might still mean he’s replacement level in shallow mixed leagues.