During the entire middle portion of the pitch, the batter must time the ball and decide where to swing. If the batter decides to swing, he must start when the ball is approximately 25 to 30 feet in front of the plate. The ball will arrive at the plate about 250 thousandths of a second later -- about the limit of human reaction time. The bat must make contact with the ball within an even smaller time range: A few thousandths of a second error in timing will result in a foul ball. Position is important, too. Hitting the ball only a few millimeters too high or too low results in a fly ball or a grounder.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve looked at the players with the higher batting averages, now let’s look at some of those players with low averages who were cursed at and ignored in fantasy. We’ll start with last years whipping boy Carlos Santana and his .231 batting average. We all loved his power and RBI numbers, but he dragged our averages down like the Titanic. It might surprise you to know that Santana had a .365 OBP thanks in part to his 113 walks. As a catcher we can tolerate low averages if a player hits for power, but not from someone who plays first (or third). Using OBP though, Santana’s numbers were equal to Morneau in 3 categories and he had 10 more home runs.
This new formula, which they referred to as gOBP, both credits the batter for reaching on errors and penalizes the batter for sacrifice bunts. They argue first, that any baserunner gives his team a chance to score, regardless how he reached base; second, that the batter can influence whether a batted ball becomes an error*; and third, that if HBPs (which are basically mistakes by the pitcher) are counted as positive events in OBP, then errors (mistakes by the fielders) should as well. To support these arguments, they show that team gOBP correlates better with runs per game (R/G) than the traditional team OBP.
For small numbers of at-bats, it is possible (though unlikely) for a player's on-base percentage to be lower than his batting average (H/AB). This happens when a player has almost no walks or times hit by pitch, with a higher number of sacrifice flies (e.g. if a player has 2 hits in 6 at-bats plus a sacrifice fly, his batting average would be .333, but his on-base percentage would be .286). The player who experienced this phenomenon with the most number of at-bats over a full season was Ernie Bowman. In 1963, with over 125 at-bats, Bowman had a batting average of .184 and an on-base percentage of .181
On base plus Slugging (OPS): Somewhere, half way between traditional statistics and sabermetrics is what Fox sportscaster Joe Buck called "that new OPS statistic." Yes, he actually said that, during the 2011 World Series broadcast. (Notice that I resist the strong temptation to go off on a rant tangent, here, in an effort to stay on topic.) On base plus slugging, or OPS, is just that. Take a player’s on base percentage and add his slugging percentage, and voila, you get OPS. Now, I think that OPS is a very useful statistic ... for sluggers. But it’s still very much a slugger’s stat. OPS gives one base for walks, two for a single, three for a double, four for a triple, and five for a home run. We’re used to seeing OPS being discussed in conversations now when discussing the MVP awards for each league and it's commonly used in baseball discussions these days.
Last season, the average hitter who belted between 20 and 24 home runs provided 2.9 wins above replacement, similar to what Asdrubal Cabrera (.280 average with 23 home runs and .810 OPS) gave the New York Mets in 2016, for which he was paid $8.25 million. A 40-home run hitter, like Nelson Cruz (.287 average with 43 home runs and a .915 OPS), averaged 4.5 fWAR but was paid $14.25 million. In other words, you could have two Cabrera-type hitters for a little more than it would cost to sign one like Cruz and get slightly more value overall.
Comparing a baseball or softball swing to a car engine is something that I do almost everyday. It’s an easy way to help kids and parents understand how the system inside the swing works. For someone who doesn’t look at hundreds of swings a day, it can be difficult to identify or help a player become a more efficient swinger of the bat. A lot of times coaches will see a result like a pop up or ground ball and associate the weak contact with lack of effort. Most of the time, this is simply not the case. In the following article I hope to help players understand the importance of not making “early mistakes” and also help coaches and parents break down the efficient swing. To do so, we will break the swing down into three phases. The three phases are 1. Acceleration/Angle Creation, 2. Maintain, 3. Release. They are illustrated in the picture below in a Playoff home run by Francisco Lindor.
Walk/strikeout ratio. The exception is that he does look at the ratio of walks to strikeouts. Elite hitters in high school shouldn’t be striking out a lot. No more than 7 strikeout in 100 at bats in high school. For example, 12 walks and 88 strikeouts is NOT what they want to see. On the other hand, more walks than strikeouts is very promising. Orioles scout Jim Thrift knows that this stat shows a lot about a player’s discipline, hand/eye coordination and knowledge of the strike zone.
While batting average is a useful tool for measuring a player's ability at the plate, it isn't all-encompassing. For instance, batting average doesn't take into account the number of times a batter reaches base via walks or hit-by-pitches. And it doesn't take into account hit type (with a double, triple or home run being more valuable than a single).