MLB

MLB exit velocity kings: Five players hitting cover off the ball in 2017

Giancarlo Stanton

Thanks to Statcast, Major League Baseball has not only an additional statistic to follow, but a fun one as well. MLB Exit velocity is a new and innovative way to measure how far and with how much force a ball is traveling off the bats of MLB hitters.

From a new obsession in the Bronx to someone that has a surprising amount of force this season, there are many players showing off their power in different ways.

Here are the five players that have the hardest hitting balls of the season so far.

Aaron Judge, outfielder, New York Yankees

Of course we have Aaron Judge on this list.

The guy has played in barely 40 major league games this season and he already has a section of Yankees Stadium dedicated to him.

He was struggling to earn a final roster spot on Opening Day, but that is nothing but a distant memory for the future All-Star. And this has a lot to do with his offensive capabilities.

Judge currently has a .315/.417/.692 slash line with a league-leading 15 home runs. A .386 ISO and a 13.7-percent walk rate also separate him from the rest of the league, as does his raw power.

If you look at his zone breakdown, there is almost nowhere he struggles. He regresses slightly against lefties, especially with those inside pitches, but beyond that, he is the perfect power hitter. That 45.5-percent home run to flyball ratio is rare, and believe it or not, his overall flyball rate has decreased significantly since his short stint in 2016.

Judge currently leads Major League Baseball with the hardest hit ball. He smacked a 435-foot home run off of Kevin Gausman at the end of April, which resulted in a 119.4 mile-per-hour exit. He’s also second overall with a 119 mile-per-hour double he hit off of Kyle Hendricks recently.

Giancarlo Stanton, outfielder, Miami Marlins

Giancarlo Stanton and power are synonymous.

Last season, he hit a grounder that was the hardest-hit ball ever recorded by Statcast. It had an exit velocity of 123.9 miles per hour, which beat out his previous record set not too long beforehand. He’s currently sitting behind Judge this with a 118.7 mile-per-hour ball that was hit off of Erasmo Ramirez at the beginning of the month.

He’s only hitting at a .261 average this season, but his power never seems to go away. His ISO doesn’t necessarily reflect this since it counts as a part of the batting average, but he does possess a career .538 slugging average.

The three-time All-Star has a diverse and impressive launch angle as well.

courtesy of Baseball Savant

Stanton is also rather dominant against lefties, especially on pitches that are introduced to him low and inside.

Mark Trumbo, first baseman/designated hitter, Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles and their fans are very happy to have Mark Trumbo once again on the roster after re-signing him to a three-year deal. He was also one of the top designated hitters we highlighted to watch out for heading into the season, and he’s making us look smart with that prediction.

He finished his 2016 campaign with the O’s with a league-leading 47 home runs. He also landed himself an All-Star spot and a Silver Slugger Award.

This year, Trumbo has improved in an important category — strikeouts. He struggled last season when he had a 25.5-percent strikeout rate. This season, he sits at 19 percent in that category and is showing a unique sign of patience at the plate.

We say unique because he doesn’t necessarily swing erratically, but when he does swing at balls outside of the strike zone, he’s making contact 60-percent of the time.

Trumbo’s furthest-hit ball of the season was hit off of six-time All-Star C.C. Sabathia. He’s just barely behind Stanton with that ball measuring in at 118.5 mph, but if you look at the comparative exit velocity between the two, it’s intriguing, Trumbo typically starts out stronger right out of the gate.

courtesy of Baseball Savant

Manny Machado, third baseman, Baltimore Orioles

Believe it or not, according to Statcast, one of the hardest-hit balls was by Trumbo’s teammate Manny Machado. And it was actually a single that measured in at 116.5 mph.

Machado’s fiery personality shows in the batter’s box, and more specifically against lefties. Look at those triple digit numbers against southpaws.

courtesy of Baseball Savant

Machado is currently slashing a .223/.316/.446 line with 25 RBI and 10 home runs on the season. While those numbers don’t exactly scream power, he is in the top-10 across the league in average exit velocity, hitting on average 201 feet and 94.2 mph.

He also benefits with Camden Yards being his home field, and he knows how to take advantage of those power courses.

Machado is sitting at a 17.2-percent home run to fly ball rate, which is a career high. And while a lot of those balls are hit hard, the 12.7-percent infield fly rate is showing some of those his aren’t carrying.

Steven Souza Jr., right fielder, Tampa Bay Rays

When it comes to Steven Souza, you’re going to see a lot of strikeouts. A 30.1-percent strikeout rate and a very low ISO could lead you to be unimpressed, but he does have one of the best overall exit velocities in the league at the moment.

His double off of Marcus Stroman had a launch angle of 10.2 degrees and flew 258 feet. It also measured at 116.2 miles per hour.

The 28-year-old is also getting on base more this season. He hosts a .356 on-base percentage, and in 40 games so far he has five home runs and 23 RBI.

courtesy of Baseball Savant

The launch angle is what is impressive for Souza. And he does make some hard contact. But it doesn’t seem to be consistent this year — just a 28.9-percent contact rate and a 16.7-percent home run to flyball ratio.

He’s hitting more line drives than ever before which certainly has its benefits, including having one of the hardest hit balls of the season.

About the author

Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jessica is a sports writer with an obsession for baseball. You can catch her in the stands or in the media booth. She's the one with the big hair. In addition to Sportsnaut, Jessica has been featured on Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, and MLB Nation.