A barrel is a batted ball with similar hit types in exit velocity and a launch angle, leading to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage. The batted ball requires an exit velocity of 98 miles per hour to be barreled. As the exit velocity increases, the launch angle classified as a barrel also increases, as shown in the chart below. The launch angle range grows two to three degrees for every one mph increase on the batted ball. Once a batted ball reaches 116 mph exit velocity, a barrel is assigned if the launch angle is between eight and 50 degrees.
Barrels, more often than not, become home runs. 2022 is the first year in the statcast era (2015-until) that less than 50 percent of barrels have gone for home runs. Currently, 45.5 percent of barreled balls have been home runs. You can see below how it ranks in terms of previous seasons.
So, by seeing the numbers, you can see that barrels go for home runs more often than not. We can use this data to look at some underperforming hitters who could be in for more home runs in the second half.
Statcast Standouts: Barrels and Home Run Underperformers
*Chart consists of qualified hitters with at least ten barrels this season.
J.D. Martinez, OF, Boston Red Sox
J.D. Martinez has had an interesting season so far in 2022. He currently has a .302/.368/.481 slash line with just nine home runs. Martinez has his highest barrel rate since 2018 and has a max exit velocity and hard-hit rate that both rank 73rd percentile or better. All of Martinez’s expected stats suggest he has underperformed.
Among qualified hitters, he ranks third worst in home runs per barrel percentage. The league average we mentioned is 45.5 percent, and Martinez comes in at just 28 percent. Only Andrew Benintendi and Miguel Cabrera rank worse.
Despite having a “down season,” J.D. Martinez is having a solid season. Many indicators suggest that power should be coming in the second half. Expect continued success in the batting average department but a much higher hone run rate from Martinez.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
It feels safe to say that Ke’Bryan Hayes has been a disappointment to start his Major League career. Between 2021 and 2022, Hayes has accrued 756 plate appearances, slashing .254./320/.365 with ten home runs. What Hayes does have going for him is steals. He has stolen 19 bases between the two seasons and has ten this season. Hayes’ power has been non-existent, and his batting average has been a disappointment despite his strong contact skills.
Surprisingly, Hayes ranks very well in statcast metrics. His average exit velocity of 91.7 mph, max of 113 mph, and hard-hit rate of 49 percent all rank 90th percentile among all hitters. Hayes even cut his ground ball rate by seven percentage points from last season. With more fly balls, he is hitting fewer home runs and has just a 5.6 percent home run per fly ball rate.
Hayes only has 12 barrels so far this season, largely thanks to his launch angle, but has just four home runs. Statcast suggests he has underperformed, as does his home run per barrel rate. If Hayes lifts the ball a little more, he should get to more home run power.
Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
It has been a very up and down season for Christian Yelich, but he has provided some solid fantasy value thanks to his eight home runs and 13 stolen bases. The home runs have been underwhelming, but it is nice to see Yelich running. He checks in with a .251/.347/.379 slash line. Ground balls have been the biggest issue for Yelich as they have the last three years, but his 57 percent ground ball rate is currently his highest since 2015.
Yelich does have 22 barrels this season which is suitable for a 9.2 percent barrel rate. His eight home runs give him a 36 percent home run per barrel rate. You can site the ground balls as an issue, but the ground balls have not stopped Yelich from posting a near 10 percent barrel rate.
Statcast data has Yelich’s expected stats much higher than his actual production. His expected slugging percentage of .452 suggests Yelich could produce more power in the second half, as does his home run per barrel rate.
Unless Yelich drops his ground ball rate substantially, he is unlikely to get back to 30 home run power. But, with how hard Yelich hits the ball, he is due for more home runs after the All-Star break.
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