White Sox have a couple of the hardest hitters in the American League

SHARE White Sox have a couple of the hardest hitters in the American League
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The White Sox’ Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have been hard-hitters so far this season, and they have the exit velocities to prove it.

Statcast data presented by Baseball Savant at https://baseballsavant.mlb.cosm/statcast_leaderboard shows Moncada fifth in Major League Baseball at 61 percent of fair balls with exit velocities of 95 mph or faster. He’s also fifth with an average exit velocity of 96 mph.

Abreu is not far behind, ranking 13th in MLB at 58.2 percent at 95 mph-plus and 11th with a 95 mph average. And you can count Matt Davidson, too. He’s 20th at 53.7 percent at 95 mph-plus and 55th with a 91.6 mph average.

Check out a few by-the-numbers notes on each.

Moncada: A 22-year-old second baseman, Moncada has been productive far beyond his .267 batting average. He has walked 14 times to take his on-base percentage to .353, and his six home runs, seven doubles and a triple have boosted his slugging percentage to .524. That’s good for an .877 OPS that ranks 19th among American League qualifiers.

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By weighted runs created plus, which assigns weights to all offensive events and normalizes so 100 is league average, Moncada’s 138 ranks 20th in the AL.

There are challenges. Moncada has struck out 47 times. His contact percentage is 64.6 percent, where average is about 77 percent, and his contact percentage on pitches in the strike zone is 75.4 percent, where average is about 85 percent.

He’ll need a better contact rate when his batting average on balls in play fades from its current lofty .423.

Abreu: With a .263 batting average, .827 OPS and six homers, Abreu’s 128 wRC+ ranks 29th in the AL. His numbers have been dampened a bit by a .267 BABiP that figures to rise. Abreu’s career BABiP is .333.

With 130 homers and a career .881 OPS a month into his fifth season, Abreu has earned a place in the discussion of the Sox’ all-time best first basemen.

Among those who have played at least 500 games at first for the Sox, Frank Thomas is the runaway leader with 68.3 WAR as calculated at Baseball-Reference.com. That includes 47.0 in 1990-97, when he was used at first more than designated hitter.

Thomas is followed by Paul Konerko at 28.9, then Abreu at 17.0.

Davidson: The five-game series that ended Sunday in Kansas City gave Davidson a huge boost. He entered the series with a .206 batting average and an .804 OPS. After a pair of two-homer, three-RBI games and an 8-for-19 series, he left with a .253 batting average and a .984 OPS that ranks seventh in the AL.

Davidson’s 168 wRC+ is eighth-best in the AL. His plate discipline looks improved, with a walk rate of 14.4 percent after 4.3 percent last season and a strikeout rate of 31.7 percent after 37.2 percent last season.

Is that reality or an April mirage resulting from a big series against the Royals and a small sample? That’s to be determined, but his exit velocities and results so far put him in the Sox’ hard-hitter category with Abreu and Moncada.

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