A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Astros' extremely low BABIP. If you are unfamiliar with BABIP, I would recommend giving that article a quick look.
On Monday, ESPN's Marc Simon began a series of tweets dealing with "hard hit ball" data. What it said about the Astros offense was interesting.
Ranking the teams from 1-30 in terms of how often they hit the ball hard pic.twitter.com/PJulW4I2cN— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 5, 2014
That picture is kind of small, but the Astros come in at 3rd in the MLB in the hard hit ball average category.
His next tweet shows MLB teams batting average on hard hit balls only.
What team have the highest BA when they do hit the ball hard? pic.twitter.com/C6GO9qaEqy— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 5, 2014
As you can see the Astros rank 28th on batting average on hard hit balls. This data seems to suggest that the Astros could still be suffering from the likes of BABIP bad luck.
This statistic is interesting, but it is a statistics that is still available for some discrepancy. The balls are rated as soft, medium, or hard by the company that compiles data for MLB teams. If you're like me, you are wondering why can't they use MPH off the bat. The great twitter follow @AstrosAnalysis sometimes relays this information to us.
@MrSmithsonian we don't have access to that ... yet. When we do, we will.— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 5, 2014
HITf/x data is not available to the public or apparently the company that Marc Simon was using to get his data.
Marc Also tweeted a chart of the MLB players who have the highest percentage of hard hit balls.
Newest hard-hit ball leaderboard includes Pujols/Smoak near top. Others on list include Altuve, Kipnis, Granderson pic.twitter.com/UTO7WwiLDM— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 5, 2014
Only two Astros make the list, Jose Altuve and Chris Carter. Jose Altuve is easy to see being on the list since he has been off to such a great start. Chris Carter makes the list, which was a little bit surprising.
Chris Carter also makes it onto his next chart which shows the players with the lowest batting average on hard hit balls.
Who has the lowest BA when hitting ball hard in 2014? Ortiz & Fielder make the list. Here's a quick look pic.twitter.com/mWDq75C304— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 5, 2014
Matt Dominguez also shows up here, and we have one specific example of a Dominguez hard hit ball that ended in an out (it's where the picture for this article came from).
Carter's name appearing again suggests that he is hitting the ball hard and often, but has not been rewarded for it as much as many other players. It's a safe assumption that Chris Carter's numbers should continue to rise as the season goes on.
The last chart he tweeted showed which pitchers have given up the least hard hit balls.
Last hard-hit ball chart of the day: Which pitchers are giving up hard-hit balls the least often? A few surprises pic.twitter.com/BVa4tjitlm— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) May 5, 2014
Our LH starting pitchers, Dallas Keuchel and Brett Oberholtzer, both barely make this list.
So you're telling me this "hard hit ball data" suggests that the Astros are REALLY the number 3 offense in baseball and Chris Carter is going to go off and win the MVP this year?!
No, I'm not, but this does shed some interesting light on why the offense has possibly been unlucky to this point. It's another sign that the offense is better than the numbers have shown so far this season.