As we broke down last month, there appear to be four categories of well-hit balls when measured by exit velocity and launch angle using Statcast. Here are the notable Mets hitters and how many times they've recorded a ball in play (BIP) that fits into that criteria—and the percentage of their at-bats that ended in those types of batted balls.
|Hitter||BIP||% of ABs|
|Alejandro de Aza||11||21.57%|
And here's a breakdown of how many BIP they've recorded in each category. Keep in mind that the highest value category is category 3, hard fly balls, where average OPS for that type of contact soars to 3.600.
|Player||Category 1 (1.300 OPS)||Category 2 (1.650 OPS)||Category 3 (3.600 OPS)||Category 4 (2.000 OPS)|
|Alejandro de Aza||3||6||2||0|
Last month, we found that Yoenis Cespedes had the highest total amount of balls in play that fit the criteria as good contact to that point in the season. Cespedes remains the king of strong contact on the Mets through June, which is what you would expect considering his elite season. Cespedes has hit to a level 53% better than the average CF.
Since last month's posting, David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Travis d'Arnaud have hit the disabled list. It's resulted in a punch-less bottom of the lineup filled with names like Eric Campbell, Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Ty Kelly, and Rene Rivera.
Noah Syndergaard has had one-fourth of the at-bats Eric Campbell has had this year, and he's recorded the same number of batted balls hit 100+ miles per hour between a 5- and 40-degree launch angle: two. Campbell's percentage of at-bats ending with good contact is the worst among Mets hitters at 11.11%, and he's recorded zero batted balls in the highest value category.
Kevin Plawecki has hit to a significantly below average level this year, even by a catcher's standards. His 61 wRC+ is well below the MLB average for catchers, which is 81. A big part of his problem is the angles he hits his ground balls and fly balls at. His average launch angle on ground balls is -24.4 degrees, which is very poor—it's the worst in baseball. Major league average launch angle is -9.8 degrees on ground balls. Plawecki's average launch angle on all fly balls, including pop ups, is 48.8 degrees, which is also the worst in baseball. Major league average there is 39.4 degrees.
What this means is that the angles that Plawecki generally hits balls at are easy for fielders to convert into outs. He has also recorded zero batted balls in the highest-value contact range. Plawecki was excellent in the minor leagues, particularly through Double-A, but he hasn't hit much since then.
Hitting the ball well on paper isn't everything; it needs to be combined with other observations to paint a complete picture. But it can be a useful tool to point out which hitters are making the best type of contact, and the best type of contact over a long period usually leads to the best results.