A to Z Challenge: V is for Velocity

A to Z Challenge: V is for Velocity

Coming up with a V was definitely a challenge. Victory? Well, that really isn't the point this year, is it? Victor? I couldn't think off the top of my head of a Victor in White Sox or personal baseball history, and didn't have the drive to look one up. Visitor? meh. Version? Verdun? I was on the road to nowhere. Then I saw a list of the greatest exit velocities this summer, and there it was.

Exit velocity has been around for a while, but it seems like this year that it is popping up in the highlights. It sounds impressive, that's for sure. A batted ball traveling over 100 miles per hour is cool. A neat little nugget of information that tells us...something? Looking at Fangraphs and other analytical sites, velocity correlates to a number of other stats and gives us more information about hitters. I would argue, however, the way it is being presented in broadcasts is pretty much useless.

Exit velocity is measured on all batted balls along with all kinds of other observations. It yields some great think pieces and gives even more context to what is going on in any given situation. It's what's great about data, it gives us things to ponder. But looking at the two articles I linked to, I just don't...care? This isn't a referendum on analytics and I'm not one to rant about how they are "ruining the game." It's just reading much of those types of articles is like reading a physics paper or math article. It's just not my thing.

What got me started on this was this column by Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune. It kind of comes off as old, grizzled baseball guy (Buck Showalter) saying, "It confirms my gut." Which isn't exactly true. When we go with our gut, it's less about observation and more about intuition. Seeing a guy, observing a guy bat a ball really hard is not the same thing. But, I don't need a number attached to it. Even in my highlights I don't need an mph. I like when Kenny Mayne used to say, "He hit the ball hard." That's enough for me.

Leave a comment