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The other day, our business manager, Chris Gennaro, approached me with a stat I had never heard of. Home Run Opportunity Percentage or HROpp%. This statistic created by Dan Richards shows the best Launch Angle window for homers at the Major League Level.
According to Richards' article, "The best launch angles for home runs are between 22-36° (highlighted in red). Because of this, the percentage of home runs per ball in play at each launch angle tapers off at 21° and 37°"
I know what you're thinking, my hitter or my team, aren't big leaguers. Well, that was the first thing I thought about when approached this statistic. Usually, when coming up with content for our team to write, the first question I know that will come up is:
Because of that argument, I am going to take you through HitTrax data of ALL ages, both in baseball and softball over the course of two articles. The data will show you sessions from hitters from 8u to college for baseball AND softball. Showing the success they have hitting the ball in the air (between 22* and 36* Launch Angle). The softball article will be released on April 4th.
One of the biggest things you'll see is that most hitters, especially younger, are unable to hit the ball over the fence in this window. What these charts do show is that these hitters must CONTINUE to train to hit the ball high. If they learn to hit in these windows as much as possible now, they will eventually give themselves a better chance for homers as they advance. Read through the article to see Baseball Rebellion certified drills to help you hit the ball farther!
8U Hitter Takeaways: This hitter is showing that you can be successful hitting in the HROpp% range. They are producing some doubles but no homers. However, if they continue training to hit this way they will see more success as they get older. Fly balls at 8u become doubles at 10u.
Remember, the average height for 8-year-olds across the country is 50.4" with the average weight being 56.5 pounds. With that in mind, the hitter would have to match their exit velocity to their weight (58 pounds with 58 mph EV) to hit a homer. Something that we have only seen FOUR times in the history of Baseball Rebellion. The goal for hitters at this age group is to MAXIMIZE what they currently have and encourage them how they will improve as their weight increases.
10U Takeaway: As you can see, hitters at this age produce MANY more XBH's in this window. This hitter is quickly approaching hitting more home runs, assuming it's a 200-foot fence. With the fence staying relatively the same the next few years they should continue to work to hit the ball at this height.
We understand that training to hit the ball in the air from at this age and younger is not easy. Muscles are extremely underdeveloped and weak. Body awareness is almost at level zero, and most kids who are playing baseball at this age won't be playing in a few years. But don't let any of these things stop kids from working to try to hit the ball farther. Stay tuned for drills at the end of this article that can help your hitter(s) start hitting the ball higher more consistently.
12U USSSA Bat Takeaway: The first hitter, using the USSSA bat, has EXTREME success hitting the ball between 22 and 32 degrees. This bat is approved by travel baseball across the country but not in recreational leagues. Most of the best players at this age group will be using this bat because they are playing more competitive baseball than the kids who are still learning to play in their recreation leagues. This is in no way meant to diminish the competitiveness of rec baseball as in our area we have three rec leagues within 20 miles who could compete with most travel teams around the country.
12U USA Bat Takeaway: While this hitter still has success hitting the ball in the right window, the dinger numbers drop considerably. Does this mean this kid isn't as good of a hitter as the other one? No, not by any means. The deadness of the bat has decreased the power numbers at this level, and in my opinion, made the game less fun. However, we can't make excuses for our hitters and still have to work to teach them to hit the ball where they will be the most successful. Training high line drives and deep pop-ups no matter what bat they have in their hand.
This age is where you start to see some strength being developed at the peak of their pre-teen years. Push-ups, pull-ups and any kind of upper body/core exercises to help maximize their potential are highly recommended to be started at this age or slightly earlier.
I often hear from coaches at this level, particularly that kids shouldn't hit the ball high. The numbers, and the small fence size show this isn't true. Both hitters provide a massive level of production for their team by hitting the ball in the air.
Middle School Takeaway: This level is where you start to see who will continue playing and who will find a new sport. The BBCOR bat is mandated across most middle school leagues and is the separator between who is talented and who just has size. The field size has grown tremendously as well with 300-400' fences, 60' mounds and 90' bases. To put it into perspective, 13-year-olds are playing on the same size field as the major leagues.
At the earlier levels, the 'big' kids always hit the ball harder and farther. Once a BBCOR bat is put in the hands of the kids you see who are able to see who is actually a good hitter.
As you can see from this chart, the hitter still had a ton of success. While the power numbers aren't prevalent, the XBH numbers are. Hitting the ball into the gaps at a higher launch angle still produces the best results at this level.
Hitters have to be a little more 'perfect' with the BBCOR bat, making training even more prevalent. While you will still some 'jam shot' hits, you must hit the ball on the barrel more often if you want to consistently drive the ball to the OF.
High School Takeaway: These exit velocities of upper 80's to low 90's are about what you would see from an average high school player who has a chance to go play at the middle collegiate level. You can see that hitting the ball at those speeds at the HROpp% window creates a lot of chances for doubles. While not many home runs are hit at this height/velo combination, damage can still be done. This hitter can be very successful at their current and future levels with this elevation.
The best way at this age to train for power is strengthening the body. Hopefully by the time the hitter is in high school they are on a consistent weight lifting program and training to gain weight and strength.
If you have a high school hitter who is looking to get stronger but are not sure where to start, check out Diamond Fit Performance. They are located in the Raleigh/Durham, NC and Houston, TX area but provide a remote training platform to help your athlete get bigger, faster and stronger.
Takeaway: Like High School, these are the exit velocities we see from a player at a mid-level college program. They are still super successful as you can see with the high batting average. Last time I checked, the game was still about getting hits. Hitting the ball at these velocities produce deeper hits, obviously, which can help turn doubles into homers and fly-outs into doubles. The name of the game will always be to score more runs than the other team. Because of this, hitting the ball at these launch angles will ALWAYS bring hitters success.
College hitters are obviously the biggest and strongest of this group and are able to hit the ball with authority. During my time working in college baseball, I saw so many hitters handicapped by the hitting coach because they weren't "power hitters". If you are good enough to earn a chance to play college baseball, chances are you have hit a few home runs in your life. Almost every hitter at the college level has the power to hit the ball over the fence. Coaches, please get out of these hitters way and allow them to find their power ceiling!
Over the past few years at Baseball Rebellion, we have been putting out information for players and coaches on the importance of launch angle. You DO NOT need a ball tracking system to help come close to the angles the balls are coming off the bat. You just need a little creativity and a desire to help your players achieve their maximum success. The video below is what 22 - 36 degrees of launch angle looks like in a cage. If you are still teaching hitters to hit it low and hard, you are getting left behind.
Hopefully, the numbers you saw helped you gain a better understanding of what a successful hit actually is. Whether it is in a cage or in a game, the best chance for XBH's requires hitting the ball higher. No matter the age, size or skill level every player wants to hit the ball successfully more consistently. This success could be consistent doubles or the ability to drive the ball over the fence.
Want proof? Check out one of our clients after his first ever homer next to our awesome marketing sign at the local little league:
The opportunity for home runs can now be practiced! Not every kid will be able to achieve hitting the ball over the fence. But we promise you that every kid can learn to hit the ball farther, and it starts with hitting it HIGHER!