Kang’s home run off of Tyler Lyons in the first inning on Sunday was an impressive one. The ball left his bat in a hurry. The home run was the latest indicator that Kang is starting to drive the ball more with each passing at-bat.
In April, Kang was connecting for line drives at a 19% clip, while putting the ball on the infield carpet at a 57.10% rate. In May, his line drive percentage jumped to 23.50% while his groundball rate dipped to 52.90%. Again, incremental differences. The real indicator of Kang’s improvement is how hard he has hit the ball.
Recently Fangraphs.com (where data for this post and many others is pulled from) introduced Hard Hit % into it’s amazing lexicon. Put simply, this measures how hard a batter hit a ball. Of the balls Jung ho Kang put in play in April, only 23.80% of them would be considered “hard.” In May, Kang has hit balls much harder, with a 35.30% rate. Again, Kang is adapting to major league pitching right before our eyes. Also consider that Kang is staring to hit the ball to all fields. After not registering a single hit to the opposite field in April, Kang has a 5.90% opposite field percentage in May.
If Kang can maintain the percentage of hard-hit balls, expect to see him come close to maintaining an excellent slugging percentage and become a reliable run producer whenever he is in the lineup.
Last, we will look at some intangibles, clutch stats, and how they all relate together.
Next: Kang must now put it all together