Mets star sluggers issue takes on MLB’s new bat speed metric

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies, pete alonso
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB released new data on players’ bat swing speeds that could determine if sluggers are slowing down at the plate, and two of the New York Mets and MLB’s best hitters had opinions on the advanced metric.

Per SNY’s Andy Martino, Mets superstar power hitter Pete Alonso acknowledged swing speed as being useful for altering mechanics but highlighted sweet spot percentage as the most important insight into a hitter’s efficacy at the plate:

“Absolutely not,” Alonso said about if he considers his swing speed when working on his hitting. “The biggest thing that matters is sweet spot accuracy. I think the barrel metric —  they’re trying, but I think that there are some ones that don’t fall in that category that fall into sweet spot accuracy. Hard-hit rate is a good indicator.”

Mets: Pete Alonso’s swing speed may impact his success at the plate more than he realizes

Baseball Savant classifies average bat speed as the “average of his top 90% of swings,” with a fast swing being 75 mph or greater, all measured from “the point six inches from the head of the bat.”

Apr 30, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Sweet spot percentage takes into account the rate of batted balls a player hits with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees. Balls hit at this angle travel farther at higher exit velocities.

This is paramount for power hitters like Alonso, who are looking to reach the stands, and hitters for average, who are looking to breach the infield wall of defense and register doubles and triples in between the cracks. Swing speed does not directly impact where the ball comes off of the bat.

Though Alonso’s 33.9 percent sweet spot percentage places him in the 46th percentile among all hitters, and his 88.1 mph average exit velocity ranks in the 35th percentile. However, his 75.1 mph bat speed is one of the fastest in the Majors in the 90th percentile, so it may be more indicative of his success than he gives it credit for.

Francisco Lindor acknowledged the big potential for the MLB’s newest advanced stat

Mets star Francisco Lindor also spoke on the stat, saying this:

“I’m sure now that it’s a new stat, all the hitting gurus are going to be all over it. I think it’s going to be a new moneymaker for hitting gurus, and I think it’s going to be a way for some players maybe losing money because front offices might use it,” Lindor said.

“Or some players might make money off it. I just think it’s going to be a moneymaker and a money loser. We’ll see how it goes.”

Baseball thrives off of advanced analytics more than any of the other four major American team sports. The new average swing speed stat will likely be used to determine if older sluggers’ agility is diminishing, which will give teams a heads-up on whether to move on from players before dealing with irreversible downward trajectories at the plate.

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