Statistical analysis to measure player performance has become so sophisticated over the last quarter century that traditional tools like batting average and earned run average have been augmented and in some cases even replaced by more encompassing measurements like on-base percentage, which became an official statistic in 1984, and the more revolutionary OPS--a term that combines a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
The strongest man doesn’t always have the hardest hit, technique determines many factors and in most cases is more important than your strength or power levels. But if you’re somebody who has your batting technique in check, adding strength and power to the muscles responsible for improving your performance in this area can dramatically alter your presence on the plate.
On-base percentage, or OBP, measures the frequency with which a batter reaches base. OBP is expressed as a decimal rounded to three places, as in .300. Thus, OBP looks like batting average. However, instead of expressing the number of hits per at-bat, OBP represents the number of times on base per opportunity. The formula is simple, and one needs just five basic counting statistics to calculate OBP. These five stats are hits, walks, hit-by-pitch, at-bats, and sacrifice flies. The formula is:
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.
When it comes to hitting for contact, Chris Carter is pretty definitively the worst in the league right now. If we usual a literal interpretation of the hit tool and say that it indeed relates to specifically the statistic of batting average, Carter could be heading for the basement if his BABIP regresses to something more in line with his profile. Whichever way you slice it he is the very deserving winner of the final "MLB's Worst Tools" award. I'm sure it will adorn the mantlepiece of the of the Carter household for centuries to come.
Psychologists have observed that human babies as early as eight months of age already have expectations about the movements of objects within their field of view, which they cannot possibly have learned from experience, and which therefore must have been wired into their brains by the processes of evolution. And by the age of one year, human babies already have acquired some ability to catch and throw objects, an ability which improves with practice and neurological development.
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.
LD% – This stands for line drive percentage, which is the percentage of balls a player hits that end up as line drives. As you might imagine, line drives are harder to field than any other type of batted ball, so you can expect them to fall for hits much more often. The league average on liners last year was .690, which means that you can expect a line drive to fall for a hit roughly 69% of the time. It makes perfect sense, then, that the more line drives a player hits, the higher you can expect their BABIP to be. This is supported when you compare the BABIP of players with a LD% above-league average (.313) to their counterparts with a below-league average mark (.297).
The longest delays probably involve the nerve cells that make the decision to swing. These decision-making cells receive their input from the eye by way of the brain's visual cortex. It takes at least 43 thousandths of a second for information about the velocity and trajectory of the baseball to be sent from the retina to the higher visual cortex. What happens during the actual "decision" is a neurological mystery — but once the decision is made, a signal is sent to the cerebellum initiating a series of pre-programmed, reflex-like actions (for a practiced batter).
I'm an agnostic when it comes to a silver bullet statistic. Sure, it might exist somewhere, but I haven't seen evidence to support that. Instead, I think the sheer number and variety of statistics we have show just how much beauty and nuance there is in the game, and why it's the greatest game that's ever been. That said, I like OPS+ because it incorporates many different things -- getting on base (i.e. not making outs) and slugging, while also putting those performances into the context of a time (the season) and place (ballaparks). I also like the simplicity of 100 being average -- so if you see something like Barry Bonds' run of four years with a 230 or better OPS+ is simply superhuman (or some may say, unnatural).
As the hitter has recognized pitch height, they will then use the separation between their pelvis and shoulders and much like a rubber band, “snap” into a violent rotation of their body. This immediate energy creation will transfer up the body and into the arms and hands which will then allow the barrel to flail or turn around the hands and knob. Whatever the hitter’s top barrel speed is, the goal should always be to get there as soon as possible. Just like a sprinter off the blocks, gaining top speed in the shortest amount of time is crucial to facing faster pitching.
Probably very few of you except a few Cincinnati residents saw this one coming. Yes, Michael Lorenzen is the current hitting pitcher batting king, according to OPS. The lion's share of the 25-year-old's at-bats (36) came in his rookie season in 2015 when he tallied 9 hits including a triple. Now that he's moved to the bullpen, the opporunties will be fewer. Last year he homered once in five at-bats and this year he's had just three at-bats so far, but he added another home run as a pinch hitter!! So Lorenzen has joined the holy club of pinch-hitting relief pitchers. Tip of the cap!
Now that we’ve covered slash line statistics and plate discipline numbers, all that’s left to go over is batted ball data. The most common batted ball stat that is used is batting average on balls in play, or BABIP for short. While a typical batting average tells you how often a player gets a hit in general, this batting average determines how often a player ends up getting a hit when they hit the ball within the field of play. It is calculated by subtracting home runs from totals hits and dividing that by at bats minus strikeouts minus home runs plus sacrifice flies, which translates to the following formula:
Getting on base is an important skill, so you want to use OBP to determine if the player in question is a good offensive performer. However, OBP can only take you so far and it should only be used in the context of other statistics because OBP weights every time you reach base equally, whether you hit a home run or an infield single. If used in conjunction with slugging percentage or isolated slugging percentage, OBP is a very useful tool. In general, something like wOBA or wRC+ will tell a more accurate story, but if you’re looking for something extremely simple OBP is a much better bet than batting average.
Mickey Cochrane is the only catcher and Arky Vaughan is the only shortstop with a career mark of at least .400. Of the 43 players eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame with a career on-base percentage of .400 or higher, 27 have been elected. Players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they have played at least 10 major league seasons, have been either retired for five seasons or deceased for six months, and have not been banned from MLB. These requirements leave 6 living players ineligible who have played in the past 5 seasons; 5 players (Bill Joyce, Ferris Fain, Jake Stenzel, Bill Lange, and George Selkirk) who did not play 10 seasons in MLB; and Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned for his role in the Black Sox Scandal.
I like to hit off of a tee into a target at least 45 feet away. This will allow you to see the flight of the ball and know if you are striking it consistently the same way or if you are all over the place. With front toss, you should be able to hit every ball on the same trajectory. Players that come work with me for the 1st time usually hit about half of the balls within 20 feet of the plate usually slightly to the pull side (a rollover).