What do Joey Gallo, Albert Pujols and DJ LeMahieu have in common?
Here’s one answer: They all had some of the most extreme spray charts among MLB hitters in 2017.
Of course, all three went to different extremes — Gallo was one of the Majors’ most pull-heavy hitters, Pujols hit balls to center field more than almost anyone and LeMahieu used the opposite field like nobody else in baseball.
Thanks to ‘s tracking of batted-ball locations, we can break down who hit the ball most often to the different regions of the ballpark. Dividing the field into three equal slices — one for pull (left field for a right-handed hitter, right field for a lefty), one for center and one for oppo — we can see the tendencies of every hitter from this past season.
Here are some of the most extreme players for each of the three fields:
Ian Kinsler, Mike Moustakas
Kinsler (right-handed batter): 22 home runs, all to pull field
Moustakas (left-handed batter): 33 of 38 homers to pull field
In 2017, 117 players hit at least 20 home runs, the most in any season in MLB history. Kinsler was the only one who pulled every single one. The Tigers second baseman hit all 22 of his homers to left, making him one of six double-digit home run hitters with a 100-percent pull rate. But none of the others reached the 20-homer mark.
Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki came close, hitting all 19 of his homers to left. Among lefties, Carlos Beltran led the way — all 13 of his homers from the left side went to right (he hit one home run right-handed, also pulled).
As far as sheer volume, the honor of most pulled home runs goes to Moustakas — who was pull-heavy by rate, too, as 33 of the big lefty’s Royals-record 38 homers went to the dead pull field. It’s no surprise that Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton had the most pulled homers of any righty, but “only” 32 of his 59 went to left field, just more than half.
Joey Gallo, Adam Duvall
Gallo (LHB): 50.4 percent overall pull rate, 70.8 percent ground-ball pull rate
Duvall (RHB): 81 of 125 ground balls to pull side
Gallo had one of the strangest seasons by a qualified hitter in 2017, finishing with more homers (41) than singles (32), joining Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire as the only ones to do so in MLB history. One reason for that: He hit into the teeth of the shift so often that if the ball didn’t clear the fence, it was an out.
Gallo was the only hitter with at least 200 tracked batted balls who pulled more than half of them — 50.4 percent — and his ground-ball pull rate was even higher, with an incredible 70.8 percent of his grounders going to the right side. That was the highest ground-ball pull rate in the Majors, just ahead of Matt Carpenter’s 69-percent clip.
Right-handed hitters tend not to be as pull-heavy on the ground, which is why Duvall’s Major League-leading 64.8-percent ground-ball pull rate stands out. Among righties with at least 100 tracked batted balls, the next closest was Salvador Perez, who pulled 56 percent of his grounders.
David Freese, Joe Mauer
Freese (RHB): 16.6 percent pull rate, zero pulled fly balls
Mauer (LHB): 17.6 percent pull rate, one pulled fly ball
Now for the other end of the spectrum — two of the least pull-heavy hitters in the game. Let’s start with Freese, who somehow went the entire season without pulling a single fly ball. All of his 53 fly balls went to center or right field. Freese also finished the season with MLB’s lowest overall pull rate, just 16.6 percent. You’ll recall, the most famous moments in Freese’s career are an opposite-field triple over the head of Nelson Cruz in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, followed by a walk-off home run to dead-center two innings later.
Next, let’s move to the left side, where Mauer has long had the reputation of being an opposite-field hitter. It’s well-earned — in 2017, his best season in five years, Mauer pulled the ball just 17.6 percent of the time, the lowest rate among lefties with at least 100 batted balls. He pulled just one fly ball all year — .
DJ LeMahieu, Joe Mauer
LeMahieu (RHB): 40.4 percent oppo rate
Mauer (LHB): 75.4 percent fly-ball oppo rate
LeMahieu and Mauer were two of the heaviest and most successful opposite-field hitters in 2017. LeMahieu went oppo more than anyone else by both volume and rate — he led MLB with 195 opposite-field batted balls and was the only player with an oppo rate above 40 percent. (Mauer was next in both categories, with 164 oppo batted balls and a 39.5-percent oppo rate.) LeMahieu’s extreme right-field tendencies even engendered a unique outfield shift against him, when the D-backs played two outfielders in right and one in center against him — which he beat for a double down the right-field line.
While LeMahieu was the most extreme oppo hitter overall, Mauer was the most extreme on fly balls. More than three-fourths of his fly balls went to left, by far the highest rate in baseball. The next closest hitter? Eric Hosmer at 60.3 percent.
J.D. Martinez, Aaron Judge, Eric Hosmer, Joey Votto
Martinez/Judge (RHB): 19 and 16 opposite-field homers, respectively
Hosmer/Votto (LHB): Only two LHB with 10+ oppo home runs
Martinez hit 45 home runs in just 119 games this season, and a ton of those went to right field — his 19 opposite-field homers led the Major Leagues. Not far behind was Judge, who drew praise not just for his titanic blasts, but for his ability to use all fields. From the left side of the plate, there wasn’t as much opposite-field power to go around, but the names at the top of the list were exactly the ones you’d expect: Hosmer, with 12 homers to left, and Votto, with 10, were the only two lefties with double-digit opposite-field home runs.
Albert Pujols, Khris Davis
Pujols (RHB): 52.3 percent of fly balls to center
Davis (RHB): 21 home runs to center
The final wedge of the field to touch on is center. There, Pujols and Davis stand out. Of 73 Major League hitters with at least 100 fly balls this past season, Pujols was the only one to hit more than half of them to the middle of the field. That included 52.3 percent of his fly balls overall and 11 of his 23 homers, showing that the veteran slugger, despite his struggles, could still square the ball up to center.
But the best power hitter to center field was Davis, who was the only player to slug 20-plus home runs to center. That was more than Cruz (18), Stanton (16) and Mike Trout (14).
One other interesting note about hitting to center field: The Seager brothers both do it. A lot. Kyle hit 72 fly balls to center this season, 15 more than any other hitter (Pujols and Justin Turner were next with 57 apiece). Meanwhile, Corey hit 13 of his 22 homers to center, the highest rate of any Major Leaguer with double-digit home runs this year.
David Adler is a reporter for our site based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.