Bobby Witt Jr. Showing Elite Power

When most people think about power for a hitter, it is centered heavily on home runs, but that is only part of the equation. Bobby Witt Jr. is off to a pretty good start in home runs, but it is more in extra base hits that he is really impressing so far. All of those are adding up to an impressive power profile for such a young player.

After last night's spectacular outing, Bobby now has 30 XBH, which puts him in a tie for 12th in baseball this year with four other players. The most right now is a tie between Jose Ramirez and Rafael Devers at 41. Collecting those extra bases has pushed Witt's numbers into rather impressive territory. Since May 1st, omitting that rough first month, Witt has hit .254/.304/.520 with a .266 ISO (premier sluggers usually above .200). Both of the power numbers there are extremely impressive, especially for a someone who is only 22. A .520 slug right now would be 17th in all of baseball, and a .266 ISO would be tied for 17th as well. To be fair, April did happen, so this needs to continue for a while before he can actually make the top 20 in either statistical category, but it has been over a long enough stretch to start to think that is entirely possible. Shortstops that are in the top 20 in power are not a common entity. The only middle infielders in either top 20 are Willy Adames in ISO, Jose Altuve in Slugging, and Jazz Chisholm Jr. in both.

Historically it is fairly rare for players this young to show so much power. Slugging is really hard to compare across different periods due to the vagaries of baseball, but .520 would be 70th all time for someone in their age 22 season, but you can see the problem with that ranking as this is not a great offensive environment compared to some right ahead of him, like Hank Blalock who was squarely in the steroid era. ISO is a little better since the offensive environments that inflate slug also tend to inflate average. A .266 ISO would be the 22nd best for that age season with a lot of very impressive names on the list. A few Willy Mo Pena types too though.

To be sure that what I was looking at wasn't a mirage, I did head over to Baseball Savant to see if any of this looked lucky, but everything you want to correlate to power looks pretty solid. Bobby with is in the 87th percentile in average exit velocity, 92nd in max exit velo, 69th in hard hit%, and 67th in barrels. You could want the last two to be better, but again if you omitted the rough start they would be. His expected rates look solid too. The current total season slugging is .458 with an XSLG of .470, so I don't really see anything that makes me think any of his power has been fluky.

If you were to draw up a guy that looked like they could be generational talent, I think you could do worse than Bobby Witt Jr. Watching him play, the defensive prowess is fairly obvious, even if he probably isn't an elite defender at short. It looks like he is going to be the even more rare sort of shortstop who is solid with the glove and elite at hitting for power. We, of course, don't know exactly how much power he will develop, but the early returns are looking very good.

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