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How Does Exit Speed Affect Distance

How Does Exit Speed Affect Distance

July 3, 2020 | by | @BatDigest

More than a few places have measured how exit speeds affect distance. It, along with the launch angle, are the two most indicative pieces to control the range a ball flies. Although things like ball spin, altitude, humidity, and wind affect ball flight too, how hard you hit and what angle you launch it are the best determiners for how often you get on base.

How does Exit Speed Affect Distance

Exit Speed vs Distance

In short, according to our HitTrax data, one mile per hour increase in exit speed gives a 5’7″ rise in the distance—assuming you hit the ball at the optimal angle.

There are, if you think about it long enough, several issues with this data set. For starters, it is digital. It is, in fact, just revealing the algorithm associated with HitTrax data. Their algorithm is on real-world data, but it does not take into account ball rotation, elevation, humidity, and any other factor that determines ball flight.

Does that make it useless?

In some sense, yes. We already knew that faster exit speeds make a ball go farther. That takes about zero brainpower to decipher. So, if 5-feet 7-inches is an algorithm forced result, not a real-world one, then the data isn’t that interesting.

However, if HitTrax uses real data to gather their information, then it is otherwise useful.

More importantly, at least in terms of measuring bat effectiveness, we can determine the usefulness of finding a bat that hits the ball a bit faster. Is nearly 6 feet of ball flight worth finding a bat you can bang one mile per hour faster? For most, 6 feet is sometimes the difference between a home run and an out.

MLB Exit Speeds vs Distance

Exit Speed vs Distance MLB

We can also determine if the HitTrax data is accurate. We took exit speed and distance data from Baseball Savant at MLB.com and ran the same regression. We found, without much surprise, the max increase in distance for a +1.0 mile per hour in exit speed works out to be about 5-feet 7-inches.

Same same.

We do notice a bit more shakiness along the MLB line. That is due, we’d surmise, to the fact Baseball Savant uses doppler and gets exact measurements—which take into account wind, humidity, ball spin and the like.

Is Exit Speed and Distance Really That Linear?

Based on the chart we generated from HitTrax data, we find it interesting that increases at slower exit speeds create the same growth than do faster speeds. That is, an exit speed increase from 40 to 41 has the same near 6 feet of extra distance that 80 to 81 creates. That also appears to be the case with the MLB data. Increases in speed affect distance proportionally.

There is not, and maybe that isn’t too surprising, an increase or decrease to how speed and distance correlate.

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