Being a baseball hitter is one of the toughest jobs in sports.
Just making contact with the ball coming at you like a bullet takes a lot of skill, let alone hitting it hard and properly.
Doing this in the Majors is even more difficult, as batters often face balls coming at 100 mph.
The best pro hitters possess a rare combination of impeccable technique, athletic prowess, and talent.
Telling which hitter is actually good is now easier than ever with all the state-of-the-art technology and advanced and relevant stats.
Among all the hitting stats, the emphasis is usually on one in particular.
Exit velocity is the most important factor in deciding whether a hit is going to be successful.
It’s used to determine how fast does a baseball come off the bat. The higher the exit ball speed, the better chance of getting a hit or causing an error.
How Fast Does A Baseball Come Off The Bat?
Modern measurement technology allows us to know the exact speed at which the ball comes off the bat.
Anyone who has ever played baseball knows how important this stat is, as it tells the difference between fielding a routine ground ball and nailing the scorching line drive or a home run.
The speed of the ball is measured at its highest velocity which is exactly after it leaves the bat.
The speed of the ball of the bat depends on various contextual and environmental factors.
However, successful batters in pros and college baseball need to be able to hit the ball with a speed of at least 90 mph.
The average ball exit speed in the big leagues is at around 94mph.
For collegiate hitters, it’s a bit lower, at 91 mph.
In high school, the average ball velocity is from 72 mph for freshmen to 83 mph for seniors.
What Is The Fastest A Ball Has Ever Come Off A Bat?
Per Statcast, the automated, high-precision tool used by the MLB to analyze movements on the field, the record for the highest ball exit velocity belongs to Giancarlo Stanton.
In a game against Texas Rangers, on August 9, 2018, the New York Yankees slugger hit a home run where the recorded speed of the ball off the bat was at 121.7 mph.
The previous record was held by Aaron Judge whose exit velocity on the hit was 121.1 miles per hour.
What Factors Into Ball Exit Speed?
While the ball exit speed alone is an extremely useful stat, it’s also important to know which different factors influence the exit velocity.
Bat speed measures how fast the tip of the bat travels through space. Per certain studies, a bat speed of 1 mph produces 1.2 mph of exit velocity.
So, the relationship is clear, and the faster you swing the bat, the faster the ball will come off the bat.
Also, similar to golf, longer swings will generate more energy which then transfers to the ball and adds speed on the exit.
If you look closer at the power hitters, you’ll notice that most of them have a long swing.
The faster pitch will produce more exit velocity.
If all other factors are equal, hitting the ball of a heater will produce a higher speed off the bat than batting the slow pitch, not to mention hitting the ball on a tee.
The speed of the pitch normally stands in the 1:1 ratio in relation to exit velocity and ball distance.
Ball Impact Point
One of the main factors influencing the exit velocity is the contact point on the ball.
No matter how hard and fast you swing, if you don’t hit the ball properly, the exit speed of the ball will decrease.
Depending on where you hit the ball, you may lose up to 70% of exit velocity.
The ball impact point also determines the spin of the ball, further influencing exit speed, trajectory, and distance the ball flies.
Bat Impact Point
Everyone knows that hitting the ball with the sweet spot on the bat is the key to a successful hit.
With most bats, the sweet spot is at about 4 inches from the end.
Getting your swing timing wrong will result in hitting the ball with a weaker part of the bat.
The more removed you’re from the sweet spot, the more the exit velocity will suffer.
One of the main reasons why pros don’t use metal bats is that the ball exit speeds would be so high that no one on the field would be safe.
Due to the trampoline effect, which the wooden bats are lacking, metal bats produce much higher ball exit velocity.
The weight of the bat also plays a role.
The heavier bat will generate more momentum, resulting in the greatest speed of the ball off the bat.
The composition and hardness of the ball won’t influence the exit velocity as much as other factors but still plays a role.
The softer ball, like the one that has been hit thousands of times, will absorb the hit like a pillow and won’t transfer much of the momentum into velocity.
How To Increase Ball Exit Speed?
While talent plays a big role in becoming a hard-hitter, there’s still a lot you can do at practice to improve the speed of the ball coming off your bat.
First of all, you should work on your swing mechanics.
A good bat path is crucial for improving the contact ability and meeting the pitch path. With a proper bat path, more of the bat’s mass will meet the greater mass of the ball.
This will result in more energy transferred to the ball and a faster and longer hit.
Plus, you should work on your swing speed.
This involves learning proper lower-body mechanics, creating lower and upper body separation, and keeping hands connected to the body.
Don’t forget to work on your strength.
While the batting technique is very important, it won’t produce high exit velocity without the power behind the swing.
Achieving the high speed of the ball off the bat is the key to becoming a successful hitter.
As the exit velocity is now an official MLB stat, there’s even greater emphasis in coaching and player development on mastering the ability to hit the ball fast.
Of course, the speed of the ball off the bat doesn’t exist in the vacuum and is directly related to the batter’s technique, swing speed, strength, and several other factors.
This, fortunately, means that even if you’re not happy with the exit velocity you’re producing, there are ways to improve this aspect of your batting game.
Of course, it involves a lot of hard work and commitment, but so does everything else in baseball.