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Squared-Up Rate: What is it and who stands out?

Squared-Up Rate: What is it and who stands out?

This second in a series of articles looking at the new bat speed data available on Baseball Savant focuses on Squared-Up Rate. Kind of. We’ve already covered Bat Speed in detail; Bat Speed shows us the potential for how hard one can hit a ball. Squared-Up Rate is about determining how much of that potential a swing unleashed. The bat speed at contact combined with the speed of the pitch at contact creates a maximum possible exit velocity for each swing. For a select few, that’s a bit more than 120 mph. For most, it’s closer to 110 mph. The actual exit velocity divided by that determined maximum provides the Squared-Up Rate. Hence, a 106-mph exit velocity on a 110-mph maximum would be a 96 percent Squared-Up rate. A pitch that’s popped up might have a 75-mph exit velocity on a 110-mph maximum, which would be a 68 percent Squared-Up Rate.

Related: Bat Speed Leaderboard

Pretty easy, right? How much of your swing’s potential did you convert? This is where I’d like to present a leaderboard of the players with the best average Squared-Up Rates in the league. However, that is not a thing. Instead of sticking with actual “Squared-Up Rate” in presenting data, Statcast is instead going with simply “Squared-Up.” That’s the percentage of how often a player manages at least an 80-percent Squared-Up Rate on contact. It’s really a bit confusing. An 80% Squared-Up ball on a swing with a 110-mph maximum would check in with an exit velocity of 88 mph. According to MLB, balls that were at least 80 percent squared up produced a .371 average and a .656 slugging during the early part of the season. Balls that weren’t squared up came in with a .126 average and a .142 slugging.

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What this leaves is a Squared-Up percentage that tracks a lot like hard-hit rate. Much like how a 95-mph hit and a 115-mph hit count the same in hard-hit rate, Squared-Up percentage treats the good swings and the great swings the same. The frequency of hard-hit balls is a bit higher than Squared-Up percentage. Right now, the hard-hit rate across the league is 39%. The league Squared-Up percentage is at 32%.

So, the league Squared-Up percentage leaderboard is quite a mixed bag, since actual bat speed isn’t involved. It doesn’t matter how you’re getting there, just that you put the…

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