What better time than now to delve into what exactly are the best offensive stats upon which to judge a baseball player? The Eye on Baseball staff -- Matt Snyder, C. Trent Rosecrans and Dayn Perry -- will do the heavy lifting and then let our readers argue among themselves. We'll make our picks, too, so you can call us idiots, as is standard in the Internet community.
Major League Baseball hitters are commonly judged based on their batting average, homeruns, and runs batted in (RBI). Those are statistics familiar to most fans, although they only tell a very small part of the story. Another important statistic is On Base Percentage (OBP). It shows how often a batter reaches base safely, whereas batting average only considers hits.
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.
Don't swing down on the ball. The backspin you gain from doing so does not outweigh the exit velocity loss that occurs as a result. The best way to get distance is to swing up through the ball. If you slightly undercut the ball that way, you get backspin while achieving a better launch angle and maintaining as much exit velocity as possible. Advanced analytics show that the most effective way to hit home runs is to swing with an attack angle that's slightly less than the ideal launch angle. The following article explains this in more depth.
Those three stats (K%, BB%, BB/K) are the bulk of what is used to determine a player’s plate discipline, but there are actually quite a few more advanced stats that can be used get a much deeper look into a player’s approach at the plate. It’s really not necessary to get very in-depth with these stats, but a simple description and league context is really all you need to be able to apply them.
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.
To show an example on this comparison of statistics, two ballplayers who play the same position but have drastically different approaches will be examined: Robinson Cano (Yankees 2B) and BJ Upton (Devil Rays 2B/CF). Both have somewhat similar batting averages this season - despite a slow start, Cano is hitting .263 while Upton is at a clip of .271. The difference between batting averages is less than 1 hit per 100 at bats, so they are nearly the same. When comparing their on base percentages, though, a huge difference is discovered. Cano, who almost never walks, has an on base percentage of just .298, way below the major league average of .330. Upton, on the other hand, carries a .381 on base percentage. So although the two reach base almost exactly the same amount on hits, Upton reaches base nearly 1 more time every 10 at bats than Cano simply because he is willing to take a few strikes in order to draw monumentally more walks.
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.
Fossil evidence indicates that early humans hunted and ate other animals, and this seems to suggest that our catching and throwing capabilities may well be rooted in our development as hunters and tool users. Hitting or catching a moving animal requires an ability to estimate its path in advance. These are the basic skills required for every game of catch and throw, but for our ancestors, they may have been requirements for survival.
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.
the reason i think XBH is the perfect stat is for the same reason you dismissed it, because it does not consider HRs more important than doubles and triples… One problem with the traditional 5×5 is that we count HRs 3 times, Power is not the only important stat… and using XBH gives speed guys a little more value because now they can contribute well in the same amount of categories a power hitter can…
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.
Well, if you go to Fangraphs.com, go to the player stats page and you click on "Advanced" (which is code for sabermetrics), you’ll see that there are several statistical categories after each player, but they are sorted according to wOBA, by default. So, perhaps wOBA is to sabermetrics what batting average once was to statisticians of the 1950s and 60s. Probably the most important measure of a player’s offensive value.
Adjusted ERA+ Base runs Batting average on balls in play Batting park factor Catcher's ERA Defensive Runs Saved Extrapolated Runs Game score Isolated Power Range factor Runs created Runs produced Secondary average Speed Score NERD Out of zone plays made Ultimate zone rating Value over replacement player Weighted on-base average Wins Above Replacement Win probability added Win Shares
To stay connected to the body's rotational energy, it is very important that the first movement of the hands is not directed toward the pitcher - or inline with the incoming pitch. The batter should keep his hands back and allow the rotation of the body against the lead arm to accelerate the hands. The first movement of the hands will then be propelled more perpendicular to the flight of the incoming ball. This will induce the greatest amount of angular displacement to the bat and propel the hands into the most productive path.
Runs Batted In: "The guys that knock em in," as Leyland calls them, do make the big bucks in the baseball market. But RBI are, to a great extent, a function of opportunities. You can’t drive in runs, other than solo home runs, unless there are runners on base to drive in. A typical lineup should be arranged so that the big RBI guys follow guys who frequently get "on base, on base, on base." Leyland happened to be talking about Jhonny Peralta, his 80 RBI, and his value to the team when he launched into his philosophical discussion of on-base percentage. What he didn’t mention was that Peralta led the league in at bats with runners in scoring position the previous two seasons. It should be understood that players who get hits tend to also get hits with runners on base, or in scoring position, at about the same rate, averaged over time.
I do not consider loading the body to be a part of the actual swing, because it isn’t. However, there CAN NOT be an efficiently powerful swing without a proper loading sequence. The loading sequence for a any hitter is fundamentally the same but it may change due to the size, strength, and talent level of the individual. Players who are limited in size need to think about a more obvious momentum builder move like Jose Bautista shown below.
Doug you’ve done a great job putting this all together. I’m a former minor leaguer and now a hitting instructor at the Hudson Baseball Center in NJ and couldn’t agree with you more on your hitting technique. It’s tough to find people that haven’t played at a high level to understand that swinging down doesn’t mean ground balls all the time and that it does create backspin on the baseball. Even when I demo it for them its hard for them to believe but having you share the same info really helps. I’ve shared your page with some of my friends that have played in the minors and they also agree. Thanks, I’ll be following your page.
Exactly how humans are able to estimate the expected position of a quickly moving ball is unknown. Obviously, this remarkable skill is learned through long practice. Eye-brain-body coordination is acquired only by going through the motions over and over; even so, the batter misses most of the time. Getting a hit three times out of ten at bat is considered an excellent average. It's interesting that George Schaller and other ethologists have observed that lions and cheetahs are also successful only about a third of the time in capturing their prey.
Of course, on base percentage isn't the only important statistic to determine the effectiveness of a baseball player. This is because all walks drawn only put the hitter on first base and will rarely drive in a run, while hits are capable of putting the hitter on 2nd or 3rd base, or even crossing the plate with a home run. Along with that, hits are capable of driving in many more runs than walks. Other stats are used to calculate these, such as slugging percentage and OPS, or on base percentage + slugging percentage. These statistics and their impact on baseball will be examined in later articles. In the case of on base percentage, it is a hugely underrated stat that pays dividends for individuals and teams willing to take pitches. It allows teams such as the Chicago White Sox, despite an extremely low team batting average, to still compete and put up a lot of runs. Although it can't necessarily be proven that on base percentage is more important in judging the effectiveness of baseball players, it can be nonetheless shown that a hitter without an extremely high batting average can still be a great contributor and table setter for a major league team.
Watching a player in batting practice will tell you whether or not he can square up a baseball. If he is hitting one-hoppers through the infield that land in the dirt to line drives that are short-hopping the wall, he is squaring up the baseball. If he is consistently hitting balls that land within 45 feet of the plate or are high pop flies, his swing plane is not right and he will not be able to hit at a high level.