This article is part of our The Z Files series.
My first reaction after reading an article like I wrote last week is, "That was nice, but how does it help me win my fantasy league?". Well, leagues, plural, but you know what I mean. So, let's try to come up with some ways the exit velocity stuff can be applied in a practical manner.
The most actionable takeaway from the research is that average exit velocity on flyballs is a great leading indicator of home runs. As such, let's focus on that area to help frame 2022 rankings.
But first (you knew that was coming), let's think about exit velocity in a general sense. There are five factors contributing to how fast a struck ball comes off the bat:
- Bat speed
- Pitch speed
- Centering of contact
- Path swing trajectory versus pitch movement
- The ball's coefficient of restitution.
The first three are intuitively obvious. The fifth likely is as well. However, MLB using a bouncier ball in 2019 and then two different types this past season complicates comparing data sets. Plus, the effect of a humidor is altering the coefficient of restitution (bounciness) of the ball. In Colorado, moisture is added, reducing the bounciness. In a humid clime such as Miami, a humidor could have the reverse effect since it removes moisture from the horsehide, add springiness.
The fourth was discussed last week with respect to maximum exit velocity. Higher exit velocities occur when the swing path and the pitch movement are most closely aligned.
Much of the ensuing