5 fun facts about Ohtani's top-tier bat speed

May 15th, 2024

The best baseball player in the world has great bat speed. Just one more way stands out.

Ohtani having top-tier bat speed is one of the most predictable things about Statcast's new bat tracking leaderboard. But this is the first time we've ever been able to look at the two-time MVP's swing like this.

So let's dive in. Here are five cool facts about Ohtani's bat speed this season.

1) He's the fastest bat on the Dodgers

The Dodgers have plenty of great hitters, and three superstar hitters in Ohtani, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman. But when it comes to bat speed, Ohtani is head and shoulders above the rest.

Ohtani's average bat speed this season is 75.5 mph. That ranks in the 92nd percentile of MLB hitters -- just another one of the many Statcast metrics Ohtani is elite in.

And he has a much faster swing than either Freeman or Betts, who achieve their success by squaring up the ball on the sweet spot of the bat, rather than with raw bat speed.

Dodgers bat speeds in 2024

  • Shohei Ohtani -- 75.5 mph
  • Teoscar Hernández -- 73.9 mph
  • Andy Pages -- 73.5 mph
  • James Outman -- 73.1 mph
  • Kiké Hernández -- 72.7 mph
  • Max Muncy -- 71.4 mph
  • Freddie Freeman -- 70.2 mph
  • Gavin Lux -- 70.1 mph
  • Mookie Betts -- 69.4 mph
  • Will Smith -- 68.9 mph

Betts and Freeman have the swings that are right for them -- there's more than one way to be a great hitter, and their results speak for themselves -- but Ohtani squares the ball up too, with bat speed. Which is why his 2024 numbers are what they are.

2) His average swing is a "fast swing"

The average Major League bat speed is 72 mph. But to qualify as a "fast swing," that swing has to be at least 75 mph. And Ohtani's 75.5 mph average bat speed is faster than that.

There are only 24 hitters in baseball right now who are averaging a 75-plus mph bat speed. But Ohtani just doesn't own a fast swing, he's one of the most adept hitters at using his bat speed to put his barrel on the baseball.

Of those 24 hitters, Ohtani has the second-highest squared-up rate -- which means he converts his bat speed into the max possible exit velocity by hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the bat. Only Juan Soto does that more often.

3) He's one of the very best hitters at 'blasting' the baseball

Statcast has a new stat for when a hitter does what Ohtani does best: It's called "blasts."

A blast is when a hitter squares up the ball with a fast bat speed. A high bat speed is good; squared-up contact is good. Combined, they're way better. On blasts this season, the league-wide batting average is .546 and the league-wide slugging percentage is 1.112. About one in every seven blast swings is a home run.

Ohtani, naturally, is among the Major League leaders in blasts.

Most blasts, 2024

  1. William Contreras: 60
  2. Juan Soto: 52
  3. Shohei Ohtani: 51
  4. Salvador Perez: 47
  5. Bobby Witt Jr.: 46
  6. Yandy Díaz: 45
  7. Aaron Judge: 44 / Julio Rodríguez: 44
  8. Gunnar Henderson: 43

Over one of every five Ohtani swings results in a blast. His 21.3% blast rate per swing is the third-best of any hitter this year, behind only Contreras and Soto.

Those blasts translate into barrels -- balls hit with ideal exit velocity and launch angle, which typically become home runs and extra-base hits. Twenty-five of Ohtani's blast swings have yielded barreled balls. He turns more blasts into barrels than anyone else.

Highest % of blast swings converted into barreled contact, 2024
Min. 30 blast swings

  1. Shohei Ohtani: 51.0% (26 barrels out of 51 blasts)
  2. Marcell Ozuna: 48.6%
  3. Aaron Judge: 47.7%
  4. Cal Raleigh: 44.1%
  5. Vinnie Pasquantino: 43.3%

Blasts to barrels, barrels to results in the stat sheet. That's how Ohtani has his 12 home runs, his MLB-high 29 extra-base hits and his MLB-leading 1.107 OPS.

4) He dials it up for big-time exit velocity

Of course, Ohtani's 75.5 mph bat speed is just an average. That means his swing speeds are frequently higher than that. A lot of the time, much higher.

Ohtani has reached a bat speed of 80-plus mph on 37 individual swings this season. He ranks 17th in MLB in average bat speed, but seventh in 80 mph swings. And when Ohtani swings that fast, he absolutely rips the ball.

Like on his 118.7 mph home run on April 23 -- the hardest home run by any player this season not named "Giancarlo Stanton." Ohtani has an 81.4 mph bat speed on that. Or on his 113.4 mph, 446-foot home over the high wall at the deepest part of Oracle Park on Tuesday. Ohtani had an 82.3 mph bat speed on that.

Or on his 119.2 mph single off a 98.2 mph fastball from Yusei Kikuchi on April 27 -- the third-hardest batted ball by any player this season after a Stanton homer and Oneil Cruz double. To turn that heater around, Ohtani generated a bat speed of 80.4 mph.

Ohtani has ranked in the top 1% of MLB in max exit velocity for each of the last four seasons. To reach those extreme exit velocities, he needs equally extreme bat speeds.

5) He lets it rip when he gets a meatball

Ohtani's eyes light up if you throw him a pitch right down the middle.

His average bat speed against "meatballs" -- pitches middle-middle in the strike zone -- is 78.5 mph … three whole mph faster than his bat speed overall. Those are the pitches you want to unleash your 'A' swing against, and Ohtani certainly does that.

Fastest bat speed vs. meatballs, 2024

  1. Giancarlo Stanton: 80.4 mph
  2. Oneil Cruz: 79.5 mph
  3. Jo Adell: 79.1 mph
  4. Shohei Ohtani: 78.5 mph
  5. Yordan Alvarez: 78.3 mph
  6. Ronald Acuña Jr. / Matt Chapman: 78.2 mph
  7. Kyle Schwarber: 78.1 mph

Those swings Ohtani takes against pitches down the pipe have produced five of his home runs (including the 118.7 mph homer and his 113.4 mph homer on Tuesday), plus a pair of doubles and a triple. His average exit velocity resulting from those swings is 105.2 mph.

The funny thing is, meatballs aren't even the pitches where Ohtani has the highest bat speed. That would be pitches in the lower and inner third of the strike zone, where Ohtani's average bat speed is 78.9 mph -- second only to Stanton in that region.

So if you're a pitcher, the point is this: You'd better stay out of Ohtani's danger zones. Because if he connects with his barrel with that bat speed -- and chances are, he will -- you're in trouble.