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Ortiz leads majors in 'hard-hit average'

6/2/2014

CLEVELAND -- It’s a subjective stat to be sure, but David Ortiz leads all major leaguers in “hard-hit ball average,” a stat our resident guru at ESPN Stats and Information, Mark A. Simon, has been compiling, tracking hard-hit averages through the use of a video service that records every ball hit in a game.

The major-league average of hard-hit balls for non-pitchers is .170, according to Simon’s research. Ortiz, meanwhile, has an HHBA of .274, which is 12 percentage points higher than his overall average of .262. Simon says the reasons behind those numbers invite further research, but he speculates that the shifts Ortiz faces are taking hits away from him, both on hard-hit balls and softly hit ones, and that Ortiz has had a lot of long fly outs to center field, as the accompanying chart demonstrates.

The next four hitters after Ortiz are Troy Tulowitzki (.261), Victor Martinez (.256) and Nelson Cruz (.251). Next highest Red Sox hitter is Xander Bogaerts, whose HHBA is .196.