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Statcast Standouts: Sweet Spot Risers and Fallers

The “sweet spot” is a batted ball hit between an eight and 32-degree launch angle. A hitter’s sweet spot percentage is how often that player produces a batted ball event with a launch angle between that eight and 32-degree threshold. Why does sweet spot percentage matter? Check this out.

Last year, batted balls hit in the “sweet spot” produced a .592 batting average, a 1.101 slugging percentage, and a .699 wOBA. This year we have seen similar results with a .585 batting average, .686 wOBA, and a 1.048 slugging percentage. These numbers may not be as strong as barrels, but this blows many other stats out of the window.

Last year, Joey Votto led the league in sweet spot percentage at 44.3 percent. This might speak to why Votto has a career-best season. He coupled this substantial sweet spot percentage with a hard-hit rate north of 50 percent and an average exit velocity that ranked in the 93rd percentile among all hitters.

Hitters who hit the ball consistently in the sweet spot usually find good results. You can often expect high-end results when you pair that with a strong hard-hit rate. Let’s check in on some hitters who have seen their sweet-spot rate soar or fall.

Statcast Standouts: Sweet Spot Percentage

Sweet Spot Risers

Player2021 SS%2022 SS%Diff
Raimel Tapia19.930.210.3
Harold Ramirez24.534.710.2
Adolis Garcia29.438.99.5
Alec Bohm33.342.39
Jeff McNeil30.438.68.2
David Peralta27.234.77.5
Freddie Freeman37.244.16.9
CJ Cron31.938.26.3
Starling Marte32.638.86.2
Trey Mancini3641.95.9

Adolis Garcia, OF, Texas Rangers

Adolis Garcia has proved most Fantasy managers wrong this season. After a 31 home run, and 16 stolen base campaigns in 2021, many expected him not to repeat his performance. The power and speed came with a 31.2 percent strikeout rate and just a .286 OBP. I avoided Garcia like the plague in drafts, and I was wrong.

Garcia has had a strong 2022 campaign that has led him to be ranked the number 20 overall player on the Razzball Player Rater. He currently has 19 home runs and 18 stolen bases with a .254/.302/.448 slash line. The slash is far from impressive, but with the counting stats Garcia provides, you can live with it.

A large part of Garcia’s success can be attributed to his increased sweet spot percentage, up over nine percentage points from last season. Garcia also hits the ball hard with an average exit velocity of 92.1 mph. Because he is hitting the ball hard at ideal launch angles, the results are there.

Alec Bohm, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

Alec Bohm has been a pleasant surprise in 2022 after a disappointing 2021. Bohm took the league by storm in 2020 when he came up and posted a .338 batting average. There have been question marks about what kind of home run power Bohm would get to, which has been an issue throughout his career. Bohm has rebounded this season thanks to increased contact plus the better quality of contact. Bohm has increased his fly ball and line drive rates which has seen his sweet spot percentage increase by over nine percentage points.

Overall, it has been a successful season for Bohm but not eye-popping. He currently has eight home runs and a .285/.318/.396 slash. There are still questions as to how much power Bohm gets. He is hitting the ball hard and has done a better job of elevating this year, but the home runs just are not there. Overall, the increased sweet spot percentage plus increased contact has been a positive for Alec Bohm in 2022.

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Sweet Spot Fallers

Player2021 SS%2022 SS%Diff
Joey Votto44.332.9-11.4
Ramon Laureano37.726.8-10.9
Myles Straw42.632.6-10
Avisail Garcia35.927.4-8.5
Josh Harrison39.531.3-8.2
Patrick Wisdom39.531.6-7.9
Ronald Acuna Jr.39.632.1-7.5
Brandon Crawford35.828.4-7.4
Tony Kemp38.931.8-7.1
Nick Castellanos4436.9-7.1

Ramon Laureano, OF, Oakland Athletics

Ramon Laureano’s power and speed element has always made him an interesting Fantasy Baseball asset. Interestingly, he has not had a great season at the plate since 2019, when he hit 24 home runs and stole 13 bases to pair with his .288/.340/.521 slash. In three seasons since, Laureano has a .230 batting average and 32 home runs in 943 plate appearances.

Laureano checks in as one of the biggest fallers in sweet spot percentage, which is evident by a drop by over six percentage points in his line drive rate. The good news is that Laureano does have 12 home runs and ten stolen bases this season. The bad news is that his batting average has suffered and sitting at .223, largely thanks to a huge drop in his sweet spot percentage.

Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves

Knowing the extent of Ronald Acuña Jr’s injury, I am not surprised to find him on this list. After having ACL surgery last season on his right knee, you could argue that Acuña is not back at full strength. He recently missed time for right knee soreness.

As a right-handed batter, the right knee takes a lot of force in the swing. Oftentimes, it affects hitters’ ability to lift the ball. We have seen exactly that this season from Acuña. He has a 49.2 percent ground ball rate which is up significantly from his 31.3 percent rate last year. Acuña is hitting fewer line drives and has seen a huge drop in his flyball rate. It is no surprise to see his sweet spot percentage drop notably.

As Acuña continues to get healthy, he should return to his normal self. His 2022 production may come as a disappointment, but don’t let that deter you from drafting him in 2023.

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