Players who hit 40 or more home runs produced 3.4 fWAR on average, the lowest rate since 2008 (1.8) and the third-lowest average on record since expansion, slightly behind the 1984 campaign (2.8 average fWAR from a batter with at least 40 home runs). Compare that with the average fWAR from batters with between 20 and 29 home runs (3.1 in 2016) and it is easy to see where the value lies.
While all those stats can be very helpful individually, using them all to establish a batted ball profile will help you to get a solid idea of what a player’s hitting skill set really is. For the most part, a player with a solid LD% and IFH% can be expected to put up an above-average BABIP, while a player with a large FB% and IFFB% can be expected to post a below-average mark. With that framework in mind, let’s look at a quick example from the 2014 season:
Baseball, specifically hitting, is being dramatically altered by today’s data driven, analytical beliefs. How do we achieve desirable results and not drastically change the proven swing path that dates back to Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Roberto Clemente? What if I showed you similarities in the swings of Albert Pujols and Ichiro? (You would be amazed).
Should your head stay perfectly still on the backswing? Actually, it should move a little to the right. This is not a conscious thing. If the shoulders turn behind the ball, as they should, the head swivels and shifts slightly to the right (right). A lot of golfers try to keep their head frozen in place, and that can be a killer. It causes tension, blocks the front shoulder from turning back, and promotes a reverse pivot (see main tip). So let your head move naturally as you swing to the top.
Every hitter is entitled to their own style or preference when it comes to stance, set-up, and load. However, when the stride foots lands, all hitters are very much alike in their movements to and through contact. My emphasis will focus on the “non-negotiable” of consistent, hard contact—bat path. Learning to control the bat barrel is an enormous step forward in becoming the best hitter they can be.
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 ability to accurately predict where the ball will be involves the extrapolative capacities of the brain, but these skills are not completely unique to humans. For example, relatively tiny-brained animals like frogs can spear flies on the wing with their sticky tongues. To do so, their brains must be programmed to determine when the flies are within range and which way they are moving. Dragonflies and birds of prey are able to dive on and capture small moving animals.
Hudson came back from Tommy John surgery in '14 as a relief pitcher so all his batting stats (minus one K in '15) come from his first six seasons. Nevertheless, they're good numbers. In 2011 he won the Silver Slugger Award for pitchers thanks to his .277 batting average with three doubles, one home run and 14 RBI in 65 at-bats, plus three walks. He's now a reliever for the Pirates so probably won't get many at-bats this season.
Just before the pitcher pitches the baseball, you should be standing in a perfect stance so that you can hit the ball right. A good stance includes planting your feet firmly on the ground, slightly wider than your shoulders and your weight should be balanced on the balls of your feet. Such a stance will give you the rapid swinging freedom which you need when swinging the bat at the incoming ball.
At the point of contact, we see a culmination of every drill worked on for power thus far. First, from the interlocking throws drill, we have a good palm up, palm down path at the point of contact. From the half and full turn drills, we see she has great hip rotation to the ball, from the paint stick and don’t squish the bug drills, she has excellent weight transfer to the launch point, so great that her back foot has come off the ground and moved forward. She is generating power from the lower half and harnessing it with her bat path. The crossover drill is a great drill to finish off the set of previous drills designed to generate power for softball.
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.
In Phase 2, the hitter may continue to accelerate but hopefully has already reached top speed. They will maintain top speed as they continue to rotate their hips and shoulders. Contact can be made in Phase 2 before Phase 3 is ever needed. This is demonstrated when players like Mike Trout will maintain bent arms well past contact on inside pitches. If Phase 1 and Phase 2 are executed at a high level, theoretically Phase 3 is not needed.
Offensive wins above replacement (oWAR): I like it because it removes the problematic portion of WAR, which is its defensive estimates. oWAR is all about contributions made at the plate and on the bases, and it measures those quite well. It's denominated in theoretical runs tied to "replacement level," which approximates the productivity of a "freely available" sort of player (e.g., the bench player, the minor-league veteran, the waiver claim). Batting, base-running and an adjustment for positional difficulty are all baked in. - Perry
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.
If you're looking for distance, commit this tip to memory: Your weight should move in the direction the club is swinging. When the club goes back, your weight shifts back; when the club swings through, your weight shifts through. A common fault with amateurs is the reverse pivot, where the weight stays on the front foot during the backswing and often falls to the back foot on the downswing. That's about the weakest move you can make.
Home runs (HR): The argument for this one is pretty simple. The best possible thing a hitter can do in any given at-bat is hit a home run. No matter what. You can't name a single offensive circumstance where something else would help the team more than a home run. My disdain for hearing "we don't need a home run" is a topic for a different day. Still, even the leaders in home run totals each year generally hit a home run around 5 to 10 percent of the time. So if you only focus on homers and ignore everything else, the odds of coming up with the best overall offensive player probably aren't great. - Snyder
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.