Statcast School: Barrels

Pete Alonso has quickly become one of the top power hitters in Major League Baseball, but unlike in days of old, how many homers a batter hits and how far he hits them are no longer the only measures of a slugger. Today, “barrels” has become a popular indicator.

In an article for Baseball Prospectus, Russell A. Carleton wrote that

Until Statcast, we didn’t have systematic (public) data on how hard a batter hit the ball. Now, we know how fast the ball was going when it left the bat and at what angle the ball was “launched.”

MLB defines a barrel as those

batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015.

Further, “To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph,” according to MLB.

Here is MLB’s definition of a batted-ball event:

A Batted Ball Event represents any batted ball that produces a result. This includes outs, hits and errors. Any fair ball is a Batted Ball Event. So, too, are foul balls that result in an out or an error.

To start, in Statcast I sought to answer this question: Which players have hit the most barrels this season. To do the search, I used the search settings below.

Player Type: Batter
Season: 2019
Season Type: Regular Season
Quality of Contact: Barrel
Min # of Total Pitches: 25 Pitches
Sort By: Pitches
Change Total Pitch Parameters: Click “Plate Appearances.”

Being a Mets fan, the third name in the results drew my attention: Pete Alonso. Up to May 13 he has 20 barrels in 165 plate appearances (12.1%). The radial chart below shows the exit velocity and launch angle of each barrel. The area in red contains the barrels. To see the “live” chart, click this link.

Position your cursor over the topmost circle in the Barrels area. When you do that, the information in the image below should appear.

The three black circles indicate outs, the 17 green circles hits, so not every barreled ball is a hit. “KC” is knuckle curve.

Some other facts:

  • The average distance of Alonso’s barreled balls is 386.5 feet.
  • The average launch angle is 23.69º.
  • The average exit velocity is 109.8 mph.
  • The hardest-hit ball traveled at 118.3 mph.
  • The lowest launch angle was 12º: the result, a line drive double to left field.

Statcast Primer: Whiffs in Chase Zone

How many pitches in 2019 have Mets hitters swung at and missed that were in the Chase zone?

Statcast Search Settings
  • Pitch Result: Under “Group Select” click “Swing & Miss.” Four items will be selected: Foul Tip, Swinging Pitchout, Swinging Strike, Swinging Strike (Blocked).
  • Player Type: Batter
  • Team: Mets
  • Attack Zones: Under “Group Select” click “Chase.” Eight items will be selected (21-24, 26-29).
  • Season: 2019
  • Season Type: Regular Season
  • Min # of Total Pitches: 25 Pitches
  • Sort By: Pitches
  • Change Total Pitch Parameters: Click “Attack Zones.”
Search Results

Here are the qualifiers as of May 6, 2019 sorted by Pitches (results)

Mets Whiffs in Chase Zone — 2019 — ordered by number of whiffs
Analysis of Results

Pete Alonso whiffed on the most pitches (23) in the Chase zone, but Amed Rosario, who swung at and missed 22, had the highest percentage of whiffs — 20.2%. The lowest percentage belonged to J. D. Davis (5), but he also had the fourth-fewest qualifying plate appearances (67).

A narrowing of the results by limiting the search period to the last two weeks (i.e, starting from April 22) revealed a change. Alonso still whiffed on the most Chase zone pitches (13) and now had the second-highest whiff percentage (18.3%), but Wilson Ramos had the highest percentage (21.4%) and the second-most whiffs (9).

Mets whiffs in Chase zone — 2019 — ordered by whiff percentage

Good news was that Rosario’s percentage dropped about eight points to 12.0%, meaning he was likely showing more plate discipline.

Note: To limit the search to the last two weeks, for “Game Date >=” select April 22 from the calendar that appears, a sample of which is shown below.

Statcast Primer: Finding Hits on 2-Strike Count — 2018

In 2018, what Mets pitcher gave up the most hits when the batter faced a two-strike count (0-2, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2)?

Statcast Search Settings

  • PA Result: Home Run (4) — single, double, triple, home run
  • Season Type: Regular Season
  • Count: 2 Strikes
  • Season: 2018
  • Player Type: Pitcher
  • Team: Mets
  • Min # of Total Pitches: 100 Pitches
  • Sort By: Pitches
  • Change Total Pitch Parameters (2): Count and Plate Appearances

Results

Steven Matz gave up the most hits on a two-strike count, 70, while tying for second in the percentage of hits given up (per plate appearances) on a two-strike count, 17.8%.

Among the starters, Jacob deGrom had the lowest percentage of hits given up (per plate appearances) on a two-strike count, 10.5%. That was also the lowest percentage in Major League Baseball among pitchers who faced at least 400 batters. Only two other pitchers had a percentage under 11%. Blake Snell was at 10.8% and Gerrit Cole was at 10.8%. The League average was 15.7%.



Finding Met with most base hits in 2019 with runners on base

Which Mets player had the most base hits in 2019 with runners on base?

That is the research question which the table at the top of this page answers.

How to get the information in the table
(I did the search before the Mets game on May 2, 2019. As you will be doing it on a later date, your results will be different.)

Go to Statcast Search and match the settings below.

For PA (Plate Appearance) Result you have 26 choices. Group select “Base Hit” to choose all four types of hits: single, double, triple, and home run. This will appear in the PA Result box as “Homerun (4).”

For Season Type you have three choices: Regular Season, Playoffs, and Spring Training. Choose “Regular Season.”

Season: 2019

Player Type: From the 10 choices, select “Batter.”

Team: Select “Mets.”

Runners On: You have nine choices. Select “Runner On Base.”

Min # of Total Pitches: Choose 50. That will require a player to have at least 50 plate appearances (not pitches) because of the next setting. Though the row heading say “Total Pitches,” I will be overriding that so it contains plate appearances.

Change Total Pitch Parameters: “Check Plate Appearances.”

Note: On its bottom, The Change Total Pitch Parameters box contains these statements: (a) “Use these check boxes to select which columns to include in the ‘Total Pitches’ column in the results” and (b) “The default is every pitch.” By checking “Plate Appearances” that information will appear under the heading “Total Pitches” in the resulting table.

In addition, check “Runner On.” Then, the search result will show all the 2019 plate appearances of the Mets hitters in which there was at least one runner on base and, in them, how many base hits there were.

Change Total Pitch Parameters box, Source: Baseball Savant

It would be preferable if “Plate Appearances” appeared instead of “Total Pitches,” but that is not what happens. To further confuse things, there is a Results column in the Results table. The Results column in this scenario contains the number of base hits. Finally, the “% of Pitches” column does not contain a pitch count. Instead, it contains the percent of plate appearances in which the player got a base hit.

Analysis of Results
Amed Rosario has the most base hits so far in 2019 with runners on base. He came to the plate 58 times with runners on base and got a base hit in 19 of them (32.8%).

In the results table below, for clarity the column headings have been adjusted.

This link will take you the Statcast Search page that shows the Search form.

In contrast, Rosario had 58 plate appearances with no one on base and got 11 hits in them (19.0% of those plate appearances) — That data is from a different Statcast search.

Rosario had a much higher hit rate with runners on base than with none on (32.8% vs. 19.0%). Did the added pressure of “runners on” cause him to concentrate more? Did he change his hitting approach?

The next statistics are from baseball-reference.com. They were obtained on May 2, 2019 for Amed Rosario to provide independent verification of his Statcast results:

The first row in the table from Baseball Reference contains data that we have not obtained. To get Rosario’s RISP results in Statcast, two changes must be made. One is the “Runners On” row’s contents must be switched to “RISP,” but if that were the only change made, when I ran the search I would get this message: “There are no results for your search.” That’s because no Mets batter has 50 plate appearances with a runner in scoring position — it’s too early in the season. By reducing “Min # of Total Pitches” to 25 I averted the problem.

For those interested, Rosario got those 11 hits in 32.4% of his plate appearances with a runner in scoring position (34). That was the highest percentage on the team. Ramos was second, and though he also had 11 hits with RISP, he got them in 38 plate appearances (28.9%). Surprisingly, Alonso was fourth with only six hits in 26 PA (23.1%). Third best was McNeil with 10 hits in 35 PA (28.6%). Rounding out the top six was J.D. Davis with 5 hits in 29 PA (17.2%) and Conforto with 5 hits in 39 PA (12.8%).