The Art of the Swing

In 2015 the MLB started a stat tracking system called statcast. Statcast is a high-speed, high-accuracy, automated tool developed to analyze player movements and athletic abilities. If you are a baseball fan and have not looked at Statcast, I recommend that you do. The data being captured is impressive.

Among the offensive related stats tracked, are launch speed and launch angle. Launch speed being the measurement of how fast a ball comes of a baseball bat, and launch angle being at what angle the baseball is hit off the bat. I was interested to see if there was an optimal launch angle and launch speed when a hitter contacts a baseball.

During a baseball game there are many batting situations, each situation differs on how it impacts the game. For example, a batter has a higher probability of impacting a game when the bases are loaded vs when the bases are empty. To calculate the importance of each batting situation, I used a linear weighting system (a measure of the runs a play adds relative to average). This is process can get complicated and I will discuss this in detail on another post.

I created contact value using linear weights and the results of contacting a baseball (Out, Single, Double, etc…..). I charted this value against launch angle and launch speed using Cognos Analytics 11. In the graph below, the highest value contact is red and the lowest contact value is green.

Charting baseball launch angle and launch speed using Cognos Analytics 11

The graph shows the best contact angle is between 20 to 35 degrees and have an exit velocity of between 100 and 110mph. MLB hitting coaches should develop players to contact the ball at 30 angle for the highest probability of success.

If you have any questions on linear weights or Cognos Analytics please contact me at:

Kiel Briggs,