MLB now reports exit velocity at every game using high-tech cameras and radar. Some managers—including Ricco—believe in the metric so much, they’re using it to rethink their lineups. Two seasons ago, the Mets were debating whether to keep first baseman Lucas Duda. While he wasn’t as highly rated as some other players, he had an above-average exit velocity when he hit the ball. The Mets predicted that Duda could develop into a powerful slugger if given a chance.
“That really has happened over the last few years,” says Ricco. “He’s been our team leader in home runs.”
Exit velocity, though, is still a fairly new statistic that’s only been monitored for a couple of years. Experts say they don’t have enough data to know for certain if it can reliably predict hitting performance.
“We’re still as an industry—and individually as teams—accumulating this data to verify its accuracy and determine what it can actually tell us about a player,” says Ricco. But for now, it’s certain a number of teams will keep watching closely.