Launch Angles in Baseball and Softball
If you’ve been following baseball closely over the last few years you’ve probably heard the commentators or even the players and coaches talking about Launch Angles. Launch Angles is a very hot topic in baseball and among hitting coaches and hitters across the country.
What is Launch Angle?
According to the MLB Glossary, Launch Angle represents the vertical angle at which the ball leaves a player’s bat after being struck. Average Launch Angle (aLA) is calculated by dividing the sum of all Launch Angles by all Batted Ball Events.
As a guideline, here are the Launch Angles for different types of contact:

Ground ball: Less than 10 degrees
Line drive: 10-25 degrees
Fly ball: 25-50 degrees
Pop up: Greater than 50 degrees

Average Launch Angle tells us about the tendencies of hitters, too — with a high average Launch Angle indicating a fly-ball hitter, and a low average Launch Angle indicating a ground-ball hitter.
What we’ve Learned about Launch Angle and Baseball
Over the last few years hitting coaches, players and front office personnel have learned a lot about Launch Angles and what they mean. In Major League Baseball, they have enough data to know that if a ball is hit at X amount of Exit Velocity (the speed in which the ball comes off the bat) with the X amount of Launch Angle, they know how far the ball with travel and the likelihood of whether or not it will result in a hit, out or home run.

And because of that, a new statistic has emerged called “Barrels”

Created by Tom Tango, the Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015.

During the 2016 regular season, balls assigned the Barreled classification had a batting average of .822 and a 2.386 slugging percentage.

To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification. For every mph over 98, the range of launch angles expands.

For example: A ball traveling 99 mph always earns ‘Barreled’ status when struck between 25-31 degrees. Add one more mph — to reach 100 — and the range grows another three degrees, to 24-33.
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