MLB hitters have one of the hardest jobs in professional sports: making contact with a small ball often thrown at 100 mph or more, or with impressive drop or break.
Not only making contact, but making sure to hit the ball hard enough to minimize the hitter’s odds of catching it in the air or beating him with a throw to the base.
The numbers prove it.
“Among all players with at least 400 PA last season only ONE ranked top 50 in all three of these: – Top 50 in Contact% – Top 50 in Hard Hit% – Top 50 in Barrel%. That would be none other than #Padres Juan Soto,” fantasy analyst Mike Kurland tweeted.
Among all players with at least 400 PA last season only ONE ranked top 50 in all three of these:
– Top 50 in Contact%
– Top 50 in Hard Hit%
– Top 50 in Barrel%
— Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) January 9, 2023
Contact% evaluates how often a hitter makes contact and avoid swings and misses.
Hard-hit% looks at how often the player hits the ball at 95 mph or faster; and barrel% evaluates how often the batter barreled the ball.
A barrel is the ideal type of batted ball, at an exit velocity of at least 98 mph and at an ideal launch angle: high enough to avoid an easy ground ball but not so high for it to be an easier popup.
You know Soto is extraordinarily talented when we are talking about a “down” season and he hit .242/.401/.452 with 27 home runs, 93 runs, a 145 wRC+ and a .853 OPS.
That “down” season would be a career-best campaign for the vast majority of MLB hitters.
Oh, and he is just 24: the best is yet to come.