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Statcast Week 3: Khrush Davis

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals
Khris Davis hits lots of home runs. How hard and how far does he hit them?
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Khris Davis hit two home runs on opening day and hasn’t stopped hitting since. Compared to the Khris Davis we saw last April (.636 OPS), he is a completely new player. He is hitting with more power, even though that is likely to decline some — I think. He’s also hitting for a better average, which isn’t completely unsustainable as evidenced by just a .313 BABIP. Davis has also knocked a few points off of his K% from where it was at this time last year.

All that is to say that Davis is looking more like an MLB star as opposed to just a low-OBP slugger. There are 201 Major League batters who have seen 150 or more pitches in 2017. Of those 201 Davis has hit the ball harder, on average, than all but three of them.

What Is Statcast Saying?

2017 MLB EV Leaderboard

Pitches Player AB ISO BABIP SLG AVG Exit Velocity Launch Angle
Pitches Player AB ISO BABIP SLG AVG Exit Velocity Launch Angle
253 Miguel Sano 0.250 0.341 0.333 0.591 100.0 21.8
172 Miguel Cabrera 0.220 0.171 0.250 0.390 97.9 22.5
200 Nicholas Castellanos 0.220 0.240 0.257 0.460 95.6 17.8
193 Khris Davis 0.320 0.400 0.313 0.720 95.1 13.9
178 Joc Pederson 0.206 0.118 0.300 0.324 95.0 18.1
213 Freddie Freeman 0.400 0.467 0.464 0.867 94.8 13.5
242 Yoenis Cespedes 0.250 0.438 0.200 0.688 94.1 25.1
204 Ryan Braun 0.289 0.378 0.286 0.667 93.9 15.6
207 Maikel Franco 0.174 0.152 0.158 0.326 93.8 7.5
238 Mitch Moreland 0.333 0.250 0.441 0.583 93.7 16.4
241 Bryce Harper 0.333 0.311 0.344 0.644 93.6 15.4
186 Aaron Judge 0.275 0.350 0.304 0.625 93.6 12.6
187 Trevor Plouffe 0.214 0.143 0.280 0.357 93.5 4.3
214 Giancarlo Stanton 0.245 0.204 0.290 0.449 93.4 18.1
203 Marcell Ozuna 0.373 0.314 0.412 0.686 93.4 7.7
196 Yandy Diaz 0.250 0.021 0.333 0.271 93.2 -3.1
200 Eric Hosmer 0.196 0.065 0.222 0.261 93.1 4.8
251 Corey Seager 0.283 0.208 0.371 0.491 92.5 10.9
210 Matt Carpenter 0.222 0.083 0.250 0.306 92.4 19.7
249 Paul Goldschmidt 0.265 0.184 0.314 0.449 92.3 14.6
Batters with 150 pitches seen, or more BaseballSavant.com

You’ll notice that some of the best players in baseball are near the top in average exit velocity, but two Oakland A’s hitters are among them.

Davis obviously belongs somewhere high on that list. Trevor Plouffe, on the other hand, was a surprise. This is an excellent example of the importance of launch angle. Both Plouffe and Davis hit the ball very hard, but Plouffe hits the ball on the ground whereas Davis lofts the ball in the air.

Khris Davis

Khris Davis’ exit velocity and launch angle visualized.
BaseballSavant.com
Khris Davis’ hits and launch angle visualized.
BaseballSavant.com

Trevor Plouffe

Trevor Plouffe’s exit velocity and launch angle visualized.
BaseballSavant.com
Trevor Plouffe’s hits and launch angle visualized.
BaseballSavant.com

By hitting the ball hard and in the air Davis is giving himself a better opportunity to drive the ball out of the park, and he’s taking advantage. Plouffe is mostly hitting the ball on the ground, or into the ground rather, thus taking away opportunities to capitalize on the hard-hit ball.

Where exactly is Davis hitting the balls that are leaving in such a hurry?

Is Davis an All Fields Hitter?

So far in his career Davis is a pull hitter, although not extremely. His career numbers are 40% pull, 35.5% center, 23.6% opposite field, respectively. 2017 is still young, but Davis is already spreading the ball around a bit more. His pull rate is down to 31.6%, while he’s hitting the ball up the middle 42.1% of the time, and he’s going to the opposite field 26.3% of the time. The images below illustrate what that looks like (strangely the Coliseum overlay wasn’t working, so enjoy a fairly regular stadium outline in Kauffman Stadium):

2017

Khris Davis’ 2017 directional batted balls.
BaseballSavant.com
Khris Davis’ 2017 directional heat map.
BaseballSavant.com

2016

Khris Davis’ 2016 directional batted balls.
BaseballSavant.com
Khris Davis’ 2016 directional heat map.
BaseballSavant.com

Take this info with a grain of salt. The season is barely two weeks old and we really haven’t seen enough to make too many judgments about any players. However, note that Davis has been doing this for the past year at least. From May, 2016 through the end of the 2016 season Davis’ batted balls had an average exit velocity of 92.6 and his launch angle was nearly identical to his current one at 13.8 degrees.

Admire Davis’ Dingers

Here’s the datat for all of Davis’ home runs this season. Also watch a video of the most recent one!

Khris Davis’ 2017 Home Runs

Player Event Distance Exit Velocity Launch Angle
Player Event Distance Exit Velocity Launch Angle
Khris Davis HR, 6th Inning 4/3/2017 408 109.8 29.34
Khris Davis HR, 8th Inning, 4/3/2017 391 104 32.46
Khris Davis HR, 4th Inning, 4/7/2017 405 106.7 23.67
Khris Davis HR, 4th Inning, 4/10/2017 405 104.9 32.96
Khris Davis HR, 2nd Inning, 4/14/2017 423 107.1 21.72
Khris Davis HR, 5th Inning, 4/15/2017 386 101.8 27.88
BaseballSavant.com