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Welcome to Snyder's Soapbox! Here, I pontificate about matters related to Major League Baseball on a weekly basis. Some of the topics will be pressing matters, some might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and most will be somewhere in between. The good thing about this website is that it's free, and you are allowed to click away. If you stay, you'll get smarter, though. That's a money-back guarantee. Let's get to it.

Recently on social media, a clip of a prominent on-air sports personality complaining about "exit velocity" made the rounds. The personality in question, "Pardon the Interruption" co-host Michael Wilbon, said the focus on it is "ruining" the sport of baseball for him. He isn't alone. There are legions of people who unnecessarily freak out when they hear the terms "exit velocity" and "launch angle." 


Well, my best guess is people fear change and those are new-ish terms. They are also things that weren't measured for a long time. We didn't have the ability for a while and then for a bit only pitches were measured with a radar gun. 

Then there are those people who just love to lament anything that is newfangled and can be termed as "analytics." You see, all these nerds who never played the game are ruining it by inventing all these new ways to judge players. We've all heard that plenty of times.

The concepts of exit velocity and launch angle are absolutely not new, though, and that's where I'm so confused at all the hate. 

Who among us hasn't heard and/or said something like "just hit it hard somewhere." That's exit velocity! It simply measures exactly how hard a ball was hit. How is that offensive? You can ignore the exact number, too, if you so choose. On the flip side, if you didn't get to watch a game and only saw the box score, 0 for 4 with four weakly hit balls vs. 0 for 4 with four scorchers right at defenders look the exact same. If you dug into the exit velocity readings, you'd see the latter player was better on that day and just had tough luck with his batted balls. 

In fact, having this readings makes it much easier to scout players. Scouts should never only look at numbers and need to see the players in person to get the full picture, but it's impossible for any given scout to see every single player in large enough samples to properly judge them. Data points like exit velocity readings are just another piece of information.

Regarding launch angle, you know we've all heard "just drive the ball in the air" plenty of times, notably for power hitters. Launch angle simply measures how high a player is hitting the ball. The most important point here remains the same: if you don't want to hear the number, just ignore it. It's really easy, I promise. I've been successfully ignoring spin rate for like a decade. 

There is simply no reason to be offended by "just hit it hard somewhere" or "drive the ball in the air," which means you shouldn't be offended by exit velocity or launch angle. The numbers can't hurt you.

About now is the time for someone to stroll in and lament the lack of good batsmiths in this day and age. We'll often hear names like Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew. Well, this current generation has Luis Arraez and Steven Kwan, too. I know their existence hurts the strawman argument that teams these days would ignore Gwynn and Carew (because exit velocity!), but it's insanity to believe there are no average-only players or that they wouldn't be valued in this era. Plus, there's a reason Carew and Gwynn are still mentioned and it's because they were special players. I'm sure the likes of Christopher Morel and Javier Báez would LOVE to be like Gwynn and Carew. They just aren't and that's no crime. None of us are. 

The reason MLB is hitting only .241 as a league this season is because the pitchers and defense are amazing. Pitchers have never thrown this hard with such a wide array of filthy breaking pitches. Meanwhile, infielder arms are stronger than they have ever been, which enables them to play deeper and flash more range. It's actually incredible that anyone ever gets a hit and we should discuss moving the mound back at some point, but that's a topic for another day.

It's easy to go viral whining about launch angle and exit velocity, but measuring those has absolutely nothing to do with the state of MLB offense in 2024. These things aren't new concepts. They are generations old: Just hit the ball hard in the air. That's all exit velocity and launch angle are. They are not the bogeymen. If you're letting the measurement ruin the game for you, that's a you problem, not an MLB problem.