JUDGING EXIT VELOCITY

Aaron Judge hit a home run on Saturday that had an exit velocity of 121.1 miles per hour. According to StatCast, who records this data, it was the hardest-hit home run since 2015, when the technology began tracking the statistic.

Exit velocity is a fun statistic. There is an entertainment value to the speed in which a ball comes off the bat, but I was curious, does it have any redeeming value?

So, I tapped my good friend Google on the shoulder in search of credible evidence from baseball fans who enjoy playing with numbers. What did I learn?

I learned the definition of exit velocity is “the speed of a baseball after it is hit by a batter. This includes all Batted Ball Events — outs, hits and errors.”

I read the article, Exit Speed and Home Runs, on Hardball Times and it gave me a headache. Then, I read a story by Craig Edwards, written prior to the 2016 for FanGraphs, that confirmed my suspicion.

Edwards noted that, at the time, exits velocity was “interesting” but not yet “useful.” Edwards pointed out that “people are working very hard to transform the data from merely interesting to actually useful. If it remains interesting without becoming useful, it is still fascinating information to have, but also trivial from an analytical perspective.”

Apparently, I am not alone. I searched Twitter to get a sense of what baseball fans think of exit velocity. The response was more blunt:

Exit velocity is helpful to fans sitting in the outfield bleachers, especially in Miami and New York. If an object is likely to come hurling at me in excess of 100 miles per hour, it’s probably good information.

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