Is David Bote’s League-Leading Exit Velocity for Real?
Go ask someone the question, “Who leads MLB in exit velocity?” I guarantee you answers will include Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, or Bryce Harper. I also guarantee you that when you well-actually them with David Bote, you’ll get a puzzled look.
Yup, Bote leads MLB in exit velocity (minimum 40 batted balls). Pretty crazy, right?
As cool as that all is, it brings up the question of whether Bote’s superb exit velocity is actually sustainable.
One way statisticians try to examine if a sample size is adequate is through reliability tests. If a particular trend is proven reliable, it can be reasonably assumed that said trend will continue in the absence of extreme changes. And even though baseball is filled with extreme changes — pitchers adapt, hitters get into a funk, etc. — reliability measurements can be used to assess the efficacy of a player’s adjustments and rule out small sample size issues.
It takes about 50 balls in play for exit velocity to be considered “somewhat acceptable” and 80 balls in play for for it to become “reliably acceptable.” For you number nerds, here’s the reliability graph with the alpha values (derived from FanGraphs).
Since Bote has put 49 balls in play, we can interpret this sample size as “somewhat adequate.” There’s still a decent amount of inherent randomness, but I think it’s good enough to say he’s been mostly responsible for his high exit velocity.
Bote may not maintain his current 96.3 mph average, but if he continues to adjust to pitchers and stay within his approach, it’s possible he can continue to put up encouraging numbers. At the very least, we know he’s capable of hitting baseballs really hard.
Ed. note: If you’d like to join the #EveryBoteIn movement, you can pick up the hard-hitting shirt in the CI Shop.