Great article! Your explanation of what it means to “relax” is definitely something all hitters struggle with, including myself. I’ve always been a “power-hitter”, but I didn’t really start hitting HRs consitently until I started putting backspin on the ball. For me at least, focusing on my swing and trying to have a backspin-promoting cut helped me RELAX and take the focus off of trying to kill the ball. I would grip the bat way too tight and pull everything, which was really frustrating. Another thing that helped me keep my hands relaxed was I started using that Pro-Hitter thumb ring that I saw pro’s like A-Gon and J Hamilton using… Again, great article! Thanks for providing more insight on something that all of us wish we could do at every at-bat haha! One can only dream…
As stated, to hit a baseball with power, the batter's swing must stay connected to the powerful muscle groups. However, far too many batters are taught mechanics that use the arms rather than rotation to initiate the acceleration of the hands and bat. Using the arms to fire the hands ahead of rotation disconnects the swing from the larger muscles and hitting with maximum power is lost.
There is a very important Biomechanical Principle that pertains to the initiation of the baseball swing. The principle states: "A ballistic motion, once initiated, produces trajectories that can only be changed at its margins." This means, the forces applied to the bat during initiation produce trajectories that will set the tone for the entire swing. If the swing is not initiated correctly - little can be done to compensate for it.
Shoeless Joe Jackson is the only other player to finish his career with a batting average over .350. He batted .356 over 13 seasons before he was permanently suspended from organized baseball in 1921 for his role in the Black Sox Scandal. Lefty O'Doul first came to the major leagues as a pitcher, but after developing a sore arm, he converted to an outfielder and won two batting titles. The fifth player on the list, and the last with at least a .345 BA, is Ed Delahanty. Delahanty's career was cut short when he fell into the Niagara Falls and died during the 1903 season.
Durocher, a 17-year major league vet and Hall of Fame manager, sums up the game of baseball quite brilliantly in the above quote, and it’s pretty ridiculous how much fans really don’t understand about the game of baseball that they watch so much. This holds especially true when you start talking about baseball stats. Sure, most people can tell you what a home run is and that batting average is important, but once you get past the basic stats, the rest is really uncharted territory for most fans.
I am a 13 year old beginner and I am struggling with the mechanics but have the basic knowledge of hitting. This article really helped me, just today i went to a batting cage after reading this article and used all of these steps, my first time trying i was unsuccesful missing 3 of the first pitches but after i relaxed my hands and stopped trying to hit the ball as hard as i could i hit my next 8 balls. My mom has also been pushing me to hit the gym so i could hit the ball harder, but after reading this article she has been pushing me more to increase bat speed instead of working out. Thank you so much Doug I’m hoping i have a future in baseball and can be as successful as you were.
So now going back to the original example of Mike Trout’s 2014 slash line (.287/.377/.561), you should be able to look at it and know not only what statistic each number represents, but what it means in regards to Trout’s value as a player. Before we move on to the next section, however, I also want to mention two stats that are commonly associated (and sometimes included) with the slash line, the first of which is OPS.
Carter came to the Astros from Oakland as a player with a reputation for excellent power, but a scary tendency to swing and miss. In his first full season in the majors last year he did nothing to shake that reputation. Carter hit 29 home runs in 2013, but also struck out 212 times coming with in striking distance of Mark Reynolds single-season record of 223. In the last two years (among hitters with at least 800 PA) Chris Carter has been at the top of the leaderboards in all of the statistics related to failing to make contact with baseballs. The following chart shows his numbers in K%, Contact% and Swinging Strike % and where he ranks among the 190 batters with 800+ PA over the last two seasons:
Overall, BABIP is a stat that is largely out of the batters control, which makes sense because as a hitter, once you hit the ball onto the field, you can’t affect what happens next. The league average BABIP is usually right around .300, meaning balls in play typically land for a hit about 30% of the time. So in theory, if a player has a BABIP of .350, you might say he had a “lucky” season, and you could expect him to regress the following season, right? On the surface it makes sense, but the whole point of this article is to look beyond just the surface stats, and that is exactly what we will do.
Without a doubt, batting average is important. It shows a hitters ability to reach base on a swing, a vital part of baseball. However, let's compare the two statistics in a more logical manner. Every inning, there are three outs that the defense must make in order to end the inning. On base percentage shows the odds that a hitter does not make one of these three outs. It is calculated by counting walks as well as hits, so prolific walkers will often display a high differential between batting average and on base percentage.
BAA is very common in evaluating pitchers -- especially when assessing opponent handed-ness splits. A pitcher cannot have an ERA against left-handed hitters because they are interspersed with righties in lineups. So when a pitcher's ability against hitters from each side of the plate is being compared, it is usually done by using either BAA or OPS-against.