Buck the Trends: How Batted Ball Profiles can help the KC Royals

Kauffman Stadium provides a unique opportunity to take full advantage of BBP.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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Batted Ball Profiles directly impact run production

Basic to the game is this: when a batter hits the ball, the contact he creates can result in significantly different results.

For example, and according to Fangraphs, Kansas City's MJ Melendez hits a flyball 42.2% of the time; his batting average on fly balls is .179. He hits line drives 20.3% of the time and averages .693 on that collective contact. That's an astronomical difference in batting average.

Singling out Melendez is easy because FanGraphs' spray charts so plainly reveal his issues with the bat — he smacks a lot of flyballs to left field which results in a high number of outs. Melendez is an interesting case because Kauffman Stadium is a poor place for him to play. He hit 16 home runs last season, but per Baseball Savant would have it 31 if he played for the Reds in their homer-friendly home venue.

Lower batting averages are not limited to fly balls, though. Ground balls also result in suboptimal averages because they tend to become infield outs. One result of the baseball's home run revolution is that many teams employ pull hitters, who tend to a lot of ground balls; but because they're so intent on chasing home runs, most major league teams don't concern themselves with their hitters' high ground ball or flyball rates.

Comparatively, batting averages on flyballs and groundballs fall between .200-.250; simply put, line drives are typically three times more effective than flyballs and grounders. When a ballpark doesn't play well for home runs, the home club needs to find another way to produce runs.

So, why don't more teams lean into hitting line drives? Actually, they do. The 2023 average line drive rate for the major leagues was 23.9%, and the two top "liner teams" were Kansas City and Colorado, the two clubs that just happen to have the largest ballparks.

What's the take here? Line drives play better in big stadiums like Kauffman.