Josh Donaldson hit .255 and scored 93 runs; think some of those 76 walks helped him out? Brandon Moss was the man to own in the first half even with a .268 BA, but was dropped like a rock in the second half where he hit .173. His OBP slipped from .349 down to .310, but at least he was still playable thanks in part to 14.8% walk rate. Adam Dun hit .219 in 2013 and while he hit 34, owners cursed him. Forget the 76 walks and .320 OBP though, it doesn’t count in fantasy. In 2012 Dunn hit 41 home runs and scored 87 times, but a .204 batting average had him on America’s most hated list. Using OBP you could have had .333 thanks in part to his 105 walks which batting average didn’t take into consideration. Dunn’s value in 2012 using OBP was slightly above Adam Jones and his 34 walks. Dunn had 71 more walks and Jones had 76 more hits, similar results but Jones is rewarded for being on base an equal amount of times.
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.
Every baseball player would love to be able to hit for power, but not every baseball player is a natural like Bryce Harper. There are a lot of things that go into a powerful baseball swing, and no one swing method or form is the right fit for all hitters. However, there are some "Cream and Clear"-free ways that can help all players add power. With the strategy and preparation, you can develop both your mind and body for power hitting as well as improve your form regardless of your preferred stance or swing.
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.
These types of movements encourage poor technique and motor patterns. I have talked about the central nervous systems relationship with movement patterns in the past with speed development and in baseball youth athletes, the same rules apply here. This type of training negatively affects your body’s motor/muscle recruitment patterns during a game setting.
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.
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.
In Part 1, we'll take a look at the method to the madness of on base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG) and see if we can give them their due respect on the scale of importance. In part 2, we'll explore why wOBA is a better stat to use than OPS and produce a scale so we can easily see what wOBA is above or below average and how the Tigers' players fit in.
Hitting a baseball is one of the toughest skills in all of sport. The entire sequence, from the pitcher's release of the ball to the contact with the bat, happens in the blink of an eye. This quick series of events combines two of the most important skills for a baseball player: hand-eye coordination and power development. Hand-eye coordination helps the batter locate the ball during its flight and appropriately maneuver the bat. The power element is crucial for adding distance to hits and building a well-rounded batter.
In terms of detailed analysis, looking at a player's ability as a power hitter often involves using statistics such as someone's 'slugging percentage' (a function that's calculated by evaluating someone's number of moments at bat in relation to the nature of their hits and strikes). 'Isolated Power' (ISO), a measure showing the number of extra bases earned per time at bat that's calculated by subtracting someone's batting average from his slugging percentage, is another statistic used.
HR/FB% – This stands for home run to fly ball rate, which is the percentage of fly balls a player hits that end up as home runs. While this stat doesn’t play much of a role in BABIP due to the fact that home runs are factored out of the BABIP equation, it is definitely a key component of a player’s batted ball profile. HR/FB% is a stat that is largely skill based, but typically doesn’t see much fluctuation from year-to-year, so a player that posts a HR/FB% much lower than their career norm is very likely to bounce back the following season and vice versa.
Batting average simply takes hits into account. If we’ve learned any one thing from Moneyball it’s that guys that get on base are important regardless of how they do it. Now I know I’m not going to convince you of anything without some numbers to back things up. Let’s compare players in the top 20 for batting average to the OBP leaders. I’ll exclude players like Andrew McCutchen, Jose Altuve and Miguel Cabrera who appear on both lists.
Head to the gym. You won't be able to drive a ball over the batter's eye in center field just be reading articles online at home. You'll need to get into the gym and work on building up and reinforcing the most important key to your swing - your body. While a massive chest, broad shoulders, and bulging biceps look impressive, a powerful swing actually requires other muscles.
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.
Charlie Metro: "The good hitters get their tip-off from the pitchers. And there are many, many ways that a pitcher tips off his pitches. He grips it like that [fingers straight over top of ball]; there's your fastball. When he throws a curveball, he chokes the ball [wedges it between his thumb and forefinger, gripping it on the side so it sticks out]. Now see how much white of the ball shows on a fastball? And how much more white shows on a curveball? . . . Another thing is when they bring the ball into the glove, when they come in with a flat wrist like that, that'll be a fastball. When they turn their wrist like that, it's a breaking pitch. There are many, many ways, and the good hitters pick out these things . . . facial expressions . . . human habits and characteristics will tell."
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.
This is where the magic happens. Players who are able to immediately accelerate the barrel and in turn get the barrel on plane “early” (in front of the catchers mitt) in the swing will continue to play for a long time. This is the phase of the swing that is barely seen by the naked eye in real time. Phase 1 happens so fast in most big league swing that all most people see is contact and the release, thus making it look “effortless”. In reality there was a lot of effort in the swing, it was just the right kind of effort.
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".