[box]About the source, Pro Scout Jim Thrift. Jim’s 28 year career in baseball includes 4 years scouting for the Baltimore Orioles in the amateur, pro and international divisions, 15 years with the Cincinatti Reds as a Major League scout, amateur scout and National Cross Checker, triple A hitting coach, and a long list of other impressive experience in professional baseball. [/box]
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?
Here's a quick example: Ichiro Suzuki had a record 262 hits in 2004. He also walked 49 times and was hit by 4 pitches. The sum is 262 + 49 + 4 = 315. He had 704 at bats, 49 walks, 4 hit by pitches, and 3 sacrifice flies on the year. That sum is 704+49+4+3=760. Dividing 315 by 760 gives the on base percentage of .414. That's not too bad, but it's not much higher than his batting average, which was an impressive .372. By comparison, Jose Bautista had a respectable batting average of .286 in 2014, but still reached base at a very strong .403 clip, helped by 104 walks.
Back in the day when fantasy baseball was in its infancy, the standard 5×5 categories many leagues still use today seemed like a good thing. Well times they are a changing. Stats have evolved over the years, especially with the introduction and advanced use of sabermetrics throughout our real and fake teams. So if things have come this far, then why are we still using the same archaic scoring methods that were instituted by our founding fathers?
Keep your hands in. Whether you are dealing with an inside swing or an outside swing, it is important to keep your hands close to your body. Most of your swing is generated in your hands and wrists. If your hands are extended your bat speed will slow and your power will drop. The palm of your dominant (top) hand should remain facing upwards through contact in order to drive through the ball.
Through Phase 2 the hitter can start to also make adjustments to inside or outside pitches. If the pitch it outside, Phase 2 will be significantly shorter so that they can start to enter Phase 3, the “release”. If however the pitch is inside, the hitter should continue in Phase 2 longer so that there is zero loss of force. Hitters that stop their shoulder rotation too soon are almost always going to compensate with the pushing of their arms.
“These results show that batting is a sequence of coordinated muscle activity, beginning with the hip, followed by the trunk, and terminating with the arms. Power in the swing is initiated in the hip, and therefore exercises that emphasize such strength development are indicated. The maintained, high muscle activity in the trunk muscles indicates a need for back and abdominal stabilization and rotation exercises.”
To test this, I collected all batters in the Retrosheet database since 1975 who logged at least 300 plate appearances in two consecutive seasons. (Multiple batters, of course, could appear multiple times.) This covered 5,607 batters, from Barry Bonds's 2002 (.582 OBP, .587 gOBP) to Mario Mendoza's 1979 (.216 OBP, .219 gOBP). As before, I fit a linear relationship between each statistic in year 1 and the same statistic in year 2, and determined the respective correlation coefficients.
Hitting Mechanics and other factors. When you hit, scouts will be looking at your looking at hand path and head movement. A lot of head movement makes it difficult to see and hit the ball, showing poor hitting mechanics. Jim also watches intelligence, decision-making at the plate, with 2 strikes, facing left handed pitchers, day time and night time games.
Here at Red Reporter, some of us are more interested in statistics than others, but we've all been known to use these newer metrics. Unfortunately, we don't always take the time to explain the figures. I know that I'm frequently guilty of inserting statistics without providing an adequate illustration of their meaning. In an effort to provide context to these figures and their use, we've decided to roll out a new series of posts exploring these new metrics. We will start with the simpler statistics and work our way to others from there. You won't need a statistics or mathematics degree to understand these posts, and best of all, we'll have fun. I promise.
We need to compare the best batting averages from 2000 — when offense was at an all-time high, thanks at least in part to the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in the game — with the averages of today, with pitching strong and PED testing rigorous. In 2000, 30% of all major league players with 400 plate appearances finished with a .300 batting average or better. So in 2014, if a hitter ranks in the top 30% of batting averages, why shouldn't he be considered the equivalent of a .300 hitter from 15 seasons ago?
The human ability to estimate trajectories of moving objects is difficult to explain. Good fielders begin their movement just as the ball is hit, without wasting even half a step. An outfielder instantly begins running toward the spot where he thinks the ball will fall. Sometimes, he will make a running catch without losing a stride, thrusting his glove into position at the last second.
It is important to remember that there will almost certainly be some “bleeding” of the phases. As much as a hitter might train, their will always be tiny little timing and mechanical mistakes leading to some of the “bleeding effect” of the phases. The most important thing to remember as a hitter is really to be great at preparing to swing properly followed by being great into Phase 1. If the the transition from your load into Phase 1 is executed at a high level, then Phase 2 and 3 will require very little attention. Eliminate early mistakes and prepare to feel effortless power.
The formula for determining On-Base Percentage (OBP) is to add the batter's number of hits, base on balls, and times hit by pitch together and divide this number by the sum of at-bats, base on balls, times hit by pitch and sacrifice flies. Most leadoff hitters in baseball typically have a high OBP as these batters have the ability to get on base consistently on their own and are slotted in the beginning of the order. It is possible for a player to have a higher batting average than OBP, but this is usually only if they do not draw many walks or get hit by many pitches or if they hit an inordinate number of sacrifice flies.
Slugging percentage (SLG), the preferred statistic of Jim Leyland, is simply the number of total bases, again not counting walks, divided by the number of at bats. Four bases for a homer, three for a triple, two for a double, and one for a single. Slugging percentage has been around at least since I was a kid, and there was a regular column for SLG in the stat charts listed in the Detroit News every Sunday. The problems with SLG are that a triple isn’t really three times as valuable as a single, and a base on balls is treated like it never even happened. If you want to "just knock em in," that’s fine, but a triple doesn’t put three guys on base to knock in. They have to get on base or you can’t knock em in.
Follow through. Properly following through is important for multiple reasons. Not only will it help you to add all-important distance generating backspin to the ball, but it will help point out any flaws in your swing. In most cases, you want your hands to finish high which ensures that the bat head stays through the hitting zone as long as possible.
The last notable disadvantage of OBP is that it is not park or league adjusted. It is easier for players to post a higher OBP in parks such as Fenway Park or Coors Field than the Oakland Coliseum or Petco Park. Likewise, OBP has fluctuated throughout time. Carl Yastrzemski led the American League with an OBP of .395 in 1965. However, in 2001, Jason Giambi put up the highest mark at .477. There are ways to adjust numbers for park and league context, but we'll save that topic for a later date.
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.
When a hitter puts the ball in play, the major league average to get a hit is only slightly above .300. The upper tier of hitters can average around .340, which is how they manage to consistently hit above .300 year in and year out. What this number means is that a ball hit in fair territory (many swings do not hit the ball fair) has nearly a 70% chance of being an out. This is where the walk comes into play. Hitters who are patient enough to work counts and take pitches are much more susceptible to walks than those who chase every first pitch. The odds of reaching base after taking 4 balls is obviously 100%. Essentially, hitters must be lucky in order to get a hit, while drawing a walk guarantees them to reach base. This is why the walk is such a vital part of baseball overlooked by many.
An example is the Internet Archive, which uses the term in ranking downloads. Its "batting average" indicates the correlation between views of a description page of a downloadable item, and the number of actual downloads of the item. This avoids the effect of popular downloads by volume swamping potentially more focused and useful downloads, producing an arguably more useful ranking.