Ryan O'Hearn's numbers prove his breakout season could get even better

After taking a look at Ryan O'Hearn's advanced numbers, it's clear his breakout season is no fluke.
New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

Ryan O'Hearn was acquired from the Kansas City Royals before the 2023 season as a potential depth piece for the Orioles at first base. After being acquired for some mere cash considerations, O'Hearn turned into one of the Orioles top offensive contributors.

The breakout for O'Hearn has continued this season, with him getting off to a scorching start. His surface-level numbers have been fantastic, but O'Hearn's emergence is a direct result of his stunning advanced numbers, showing that his production is more than likely going to continue.

Orioles slugger Ryan O'Hearn's astounding advanced numbers

When you think of the best pure hitters in baseball, Ryan O'Hearn probably doesn't come to mind. That's fair and I won't blame you for it, but it's time for O'Hearn to get some more recognition.

Baseball Savant is the advanced statistics arm of MLB.com, breaking down every player with percentile rankings in numerous categories. According to their metrics, Ryan O'Hearn has been one of the most productive hitters in all of baseball.

One of their top statistics is wOBA, standing for Weighted On-Base Average, valuing various batting events differently. Baseball Savant also tracks xwOBA, meaning what a player's expected Weighted On-Base Average would be based on quality of contact and strength of batting events. O'Hearn's xwOBA is in the 100th percentile at .482. This places him at the highest ranking possible for all major league hitters.

O'Hearn also sits in the 100th percentile for both xBA (expected batting average) and xSLG (expected slugging percentage). For reference, prior to the weekend series, his xWOBA and xSLG werethe highest marks of any player in MLB, with his xBA sitting as the second-highest. He and Shohei Ohtani are first or second place in all three of those categories.

O'Hearn also sits in the 90th percentile or higher in many other categories. O'Hearn ranks in the 92nd percentile for average exit velocity and the 91st percentile for barrel percentage. Not to mention, O'Hearn is in the 98th percentile for strikeout percentage and 94th percentile for chase rate.

O'Hearn's numbers are incredible, ranking him among the best hitters in all of baseball.

Ryan O'Hearn's biggest improvements

As mentioned earlier, O'Hearn was fantastic in 2023 as well. He became a staple of the Orioles lineup, providing a viable, middle of the order bat against right-handed pitchers for Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. However, he's made huge strides in multiple categories this season.

Mike Elias and the Orioles front office put a huge emphasis on the importance of swing decisions for their players. This means having a solid approach and not chasing pitches outside of the strike zone. Ryan O'Hearn has become the perfect example of this process for the O's.

In 2023, O'Hearn had a 94th percentile hard hit percentage and was in the 89th percentile for average exit velocity. These two numbers allowed O'Hearn to be a very productive hitter, masking some of the flaws within his offensive approach.

O'Hearn didn't have a good eye at the plate at all in 2023. He was in the bottom 2% in the league in walk rate, drawing walks in just over 4% of his at-bats. He also had a chase rate placing him in the 33rd percentile. He was chasing pitches outside of the zone over 30% of the time. Finally, although it wasn't a bad number for O'Hearn last season, he struck out 22.3% of the time, putting him in the 47th percentile.

Skip to this season and O'Hearn looks as if he is a completely different hitter. O'Hearn doesn't chase at pitches and he doesn't strike out. His strikeout rate is just under 9%, putting him in the 98th percentile among all major leaguers. Only five other hitters are striking out less often then he is.

His chase rate is in the 94th percentile at just over 18%. This ranks him 16th in the entire majors. Along with these slimmed down chase and strikeout rates, O'Hearn has become much more willing to draw walks as well. His walk rate is way up compared to 2023, rising from just over 4% to over 11% this season.

So, O'Hearn has continued to hit the ball extremely hard, but now he also makes some of the best swing decisions of any hitter in baseball. He's turned into an extremely well-rounded hitter who seems to be consistently overlooked by the media and even some fans.

In the offseason, some fans even suggested that O'Hearn could be a trade piece, given the mass amount of offensive talent in the Orioles system. However, with his consistent productivity, O'Hearn has instead become a key cog in the Orioles lineup and one of Mike Elias' best acquisitions to date.