In the final iteration of the "MLB's Worst Tools" awards, today we will discuss hitting for average. Right off the bat I have a problem with describing "hitting for average" as a tool because batting average is a statistic not an innate ability. Additionally, at a blog that champions sabermetrics it probably isn't worth talking about batting average a great deal. In fact, I'm pretty sure the higher ups wouldn't let me. [Editor's Note: He's right] I know that if I mention RBI's in a non satirical way I will be shot on sight. Partly because of my personal distaste for describing the fifth tool in this series as "hitting for average" and partly because I fear the violent wrath of Beyond the Box Score's cruel overlords, from this point on the tool discussed today will be referred to as "hitting for contact".
First of all, what is on base percentage? In the simplest terms, on base percentage (OBP) calculates how many times a batter reaches base excluding instances such as fielder’s choice and errors. This means, unlike with batting average, walks are calculated into the equation. Walks are an important part of baseball. The more walks you accumulate the more times you’re on base. This means added run scoring potential as well as stolen base opportunities, both of which are standard scoring categories in basic 5×5 leagues. In fantasy, we count those runs and stolen bases regardless of who that person reached base, so why should the batter get credit for how he got on base as well?
The only reason Carter's swinging strike rate isn't the highest in the league is that he's a relatively patient guy who sees a lot of pitches, otherwise he'd have the clean sweep. Although Chris Carter's actual career batting average is not unfathomably low at .220, it's pretty clear that his ability to make contact is the worst around. Additionally, Carter may have enjoyed more than his fair share of luck on balls in play because his career.294 BABIP seems a little steep for a guy with a batted ball profile like the one shown below:
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.
So OBP=Runs, Billy Beane was right. That doesn’t mean that the players on the left are bad, but they are inferior to the players on the right when it comes to scoring runs (and several other categories). Justin Morneau had a fine season, but 17 home runs and 62 runs scored hardly make him the better fantasy player. Lorenzo Cain stole 28 bases, but with 53 RBIs and 55 runs scored that .301 average is kind of empty, don’t you think? So far OBP favors the better overall player.
The first of those numbers represents batting average. While most fans know about this stat, I’ll touch on it briefly just to make sure that I have all of my bases covered (baseball pun intended). Batting average is calculated by dividing a player’s total number of hits by their total number of at bats, which gives you a number that tells you how often (on average) that player gets a hit.
Not only that, every baseball player in any situation would benefit from improving their hitting power. This has to be a focus of yours. Technique and power development can be trained simultaneously in the same training program and not overlap one another. So go to hitting practice, hit the gym, and be the guy the other team doesn’t want to see in the warm-up area.
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…
To compare the performance of OBP and gOBP, we compute a weighted mean squared error (WMSE) to quantify the difference between the expected and actual statistic for the set of batter/pitcher matchups in each bin. The number of plate appearances is used to weight each bin, so that more common pairings affected the final score more than rarer ones. We collected all matchups between batters and pitchers with at least 50 total PAs in a season from 2010 through 2013, a sample of more than 750,000 PAs. The WMSE (along with the unweighted mean squared error) for both OBP and gOBP are given below.
Henry Chadwick, an English statistician raised on cricket, was an influential figure in the early history of baseball. In the late 19th century he adapted the concept behind the cricket batting average to devise a similar statistic for baseball. Rather than simply copy cricket's formulation of runs scored divided by outs, he realized that hits divided by at bats would provide a better measure of individual batting ability. This is because while in cricket, scoring runs is almost entirely dependent on one's own batting skill, in baseball it is largely dependent on having other good hitters on one's team. Chadwick noted that hits are independent of teammates' skills, so used this as the basis for the baseball batting average. His reason for using at bats rather than outs is less obvious, but it leads to the intuitive idea of the batting average being a percentage reflecting how often a batter gets on base, whereas in contrary, hits divided by outs is not as simple to interpret in real terms.