Monday, April 16, 2012
Leaderboard of the week: Omar Infante
By Mark Simon
Inside Edge, which does video tracking for us, has a stat it likes to promote called "well-hit average," which is the percentage of balls that were "hard hit" (based on observation by their video-tracking group).
The MLB leaders in this stat are typically the best hitters in baseball -- Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joe Mauer, etc. Ryan Braun led the majors with a .327 well-hit average last season, four points better than Cabrera.
The fun of small samples is that early in the season you might get an unusual leader. In this case we do -- Marlins infielder Omar Infante. Through nine games, Infante is hitting .343 with four home runs, six RBIs and one strikeout (in other words, he’s on pace to finish with 72 home runs, 108 RBIs and 18 strikeouts).
Infante has only hit double figures in home runs once in 11 seasons. He had 16 home runs for the 2004 Tigers. His well-hit average has trended upwards over the past few seasons, but never to this level.
One of the keys for Infante is that he’s only struck out once in 35 at-bats. Infante entered this season averaging a strikeout for every 6.2 at-bats. He struck out nine times in 52 spring-training at-bats.
I reached out via email to Marlins hitting coach Eduardo Perez for a quote on Infante’s performance.
"His hands are a bit lower and he is staying tall throughout his swing," Perez said. "He also has less movement at the plate. Plus he is swinging at strikes."
Perez is correct about Infante's patience. Our Inside Edge video tracking has Infante chasing only 24 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. Last season, his chase rate was 31 percent.
Omar Infante: Well-hit average since 2009
2009 -- .187
2010 -- .197
2011 -- .230
2012 -- .371
Highest well-hit average 2012
Omar Infante: .371
Elvis Andrus : .361
Alex Avila: .360
Giancarlo Stanton: .343
Ian Kinsler: .341