Last week, I wrote about the Dodgers’ problem with the launch angle on their batted balls and how it might correlate to their lack of run-scoring.
“What I’m getting at is the Dodgers need to hit more home runs (#analysis). Or at least start hitting their fly balls farther. The problem isn’t with their exit velocity, either. Since April 20, their average exit velocity as a team is 90.7 MPH — fourth-best in baseball. Fun fact: Clayton Kershaw has the fourth-highest exit velocity on the team since that time (91.8 MPH).
The issue is with the launch angle. The Dodgers are 28th in baseball since April 20 with an average launch angle of 8.2 degrees, which means they’re hitting a lot of ground balls. Through April 19, their average launch angle was 11.1 degrees (16th-highest in MLB), but on the season, it works out to 9.4 degrees (25th in the league). In 2015, they were seventh in baseball with an average launch angle of 11.7 degrees (i.e., a line drive-hitting team).”
Here we are one week later and, lo and behold, the Dodgers have been hitting more line drives/fly balls, which has resulted in hitting more home runs. This is an obvious small sample size, but the returns are promising.
Some of the biggest culprits of hitting the ball into the ground too much were Yasmani Grandal and Corey Seager. Grandal had an average launch angle of 2.5 degrees, while Seager’s was 6.1. In the last week, Grandal has an average launch angle of 14.5 degrees, while Seager’s 19.5 degrees (10-25 degrees are line drives). The results have been different, as Grandal has a .120/.120/.360 triple slash (might be because of a below-average 87.8 MPH average exit velocity), while Seager has a .382/.382/.853 triple slash (thanks in large part to a 95.8 MPH average exit velocity).
Joc Pederson leads the Dodgers in average exit velocity (97.7 MPH, third-best in MLB) over the last week while also having an average launch angle of 15.7 degrees. And since Trayce Thompson has been hot of late, he has a 7.8-degree launch angle and a 94.3 MPH exit velocity. He and Pederson have four of the Dodgers’ 14 home runs in the eight games (and Thompson has only 17 plate appearances in that time). Nine of the 14 have come off the bat of Pederson, Seager and Thompson.
As a team, the Dodgers have average 1.75 home runs per game and averaged 4.4 runs per game in the last week. Before the May 11 game, those numbers for the season were 0.8 per game (25 home runs) and 4.2. Conversely, the Dodgers have improved their fly ball distance from 314.1 feet to 334.2 feet — fourth-best in baseball. When filtered for hits, it has improved from 352.6 feet to 377.5 feet — just 14th-best in baseball, but a 25-foot improvement is encouraging. This is without Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner doing anything in this stretch (or for the season, on the whole).
The Dodgers’ overall exit velocity in the last week has been 94.2 MPH — fourth-best in baseball in that time. Hitting the ball in the air and hitting it harder has resulted in balls traveling farther, which has also resulted in more runs being scored — imagine that.
So, keep doing more of this, guys. And to the guys who aren’t … it might be time to start.