Of course there’s some difficulty in identifying the best active hitting pitchers, foremost because hurlers are so often asked to just lay down a bunt or attempt to move a runner via sacrifice. And those are good skills to have. So we decided to use OPS (on base % + slugging %) as a measure because sacrifices are filtered out from at-bats and OPS indicates pitchers that can hit and hit for extra bases, and also draw a walk. Now take a look at this group of pitchers’ hitting credentials (minimum 40 at-bats). Also note that the MLB average OPS across all hitters in '16 was .739.
So now going back to the original example of Mike Trout’s 2014 slash line (.287/.377/.561), you should be able to look at it and know not only what statistic each number represents, but what it means in regards to Trout’s value as a player. Before we move on to the next section, however, I also want to mention two stats that are commonly associated (and sometimes included) with the slash line, the first of which is OPS.
This is often overlooked but feeling torque in your front side is important. Work on this by trying to hit a ball as far as you can off a tee. Feel the hands back as your bottom half starts your swing. The torque created from separation is extremely important if you want to hit the ball further. Click here for more tips on how to achieve good separation in your baseball swing.
While we haven’t seen the sport’s top hitters blasting home runs at record pace, as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire did at the height of the steroid era, we are seeing a significant rise in the power numbers of players in the 20-home run range. The result is a plethora of players who are capable of providing a club with power at the plate, giving general managers more options to add home run hitters to their lineup than ever before.
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At the hitting vault, we use two basic drills focused specifically on unlocking the lower half and hitting with more power. The half turns drill is essential to begin learning and mastering the movements to the point of contact with the lower half. It is incredibly important to be in a good, strong position with your hips and legs to drive the ball. To do this drill, you are going to want the hitter to pin the barrel of the bat against the back leg, and the handle/knob of the bat against the back shoulder, demonstrated in the picture. Working from this position is going to keep the front shoulder closed, preventing flying open and rolling over.
Barry Bonds, who set the record for the most home runs in a season than any other player in Major League Baseball history, is often cited as a power hitter. His career was later bogged down by issues regarding performance enhancing drugs. However, he managed a total of 762 home runs while also earning a comparatively high ISO compared to his rivals, with the publication Business Insider labeling him #3 in a list of the greatest power hitters of all time.
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.
But there are other, better methods for predicting team runs scored. Statistics like weighted on-base average (wOBA) and runs created assign different weights to different events (e.g., a home run and a walk), and correlate even better with team offense. What about individual performance? Maybe gOBP does a better job of predicting a batter's true talent level, and thus is less random from one year to the next.
IFH% – This stands for infield hit percentage, which is the percentage of ground balls a player hits that end up being infield hits. It actually ties right into the fact I mentioned earlier about speedy players beating out grounders, and IFH% is the stat we use to measure that skill. Players with a GB% and IFH% that were both above-league average put up a .315 BABIP last year, as opposed to their counterparts, whose BABIP was just .300.
Wood is spending his first season in the AL after 7 in the NL (Cubs, Reds). He's also now a reliever so his hitting days are pretty much behind him, nevertheless he was solid at the plate with 9 homers, a triple and 8 doubles across 280 at-bats. And oh by the way, Wood also hit a home run in Game 2 of the Cubs' '16 NLDS series against the Giants after entering the game in relief of starter Kyle Hendricks.
Prior to 2010 we only listed the top 100 and monitored those who made and slipped off the list. Here is that original fast fact preserved and now useless due to the list including 1000 names: Modern superstars are making the list as they meet the one-thousand minimum games played threshold: In 2001 Jeff Cirillo & Manny Ramirez met the requirements and joined the top one-hundred. In 2002 Cirillo slipped off the chart and Jason Giambi made it while Chipper Jones & Alex Rodriguez missed the cutoff by less than 2/1000 of a point. In 2003 Jason Giambi slipped off the chart, Chipper Jones just missed it once again (his career average is .30870), and Vladimir Guerrero vaulted onto the list at forty-first — higher than any other active player, that is until 2004 when Todd Helton launched into the top 20 all-time.
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:
The second number in a slash line represents on base percentage. This is calculated by dividing the total times a player gets on base (hits, walks, and hit-by-pitch) by a player’s total number of eligible at bats, essentially all trips to the plate minus events outside of the batters control, like reaching on error and hitting into a fielder’s choice). These “eligible at bats” are calculated by adding regular at bats with the total number of times walked, hit-by-pitch, and hit into a sacrifice fly. That gives you the following formula to calculate on-base percentage, or OBP for short.
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:
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
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.
On an individual level, I'm partial to OPS+ because it's a clear upgrade over traditional measures and, unlike oWAR (which I think is more accurate in a vacuum), it's not quite as off-putting to the uninitiated. I'll happily lean on oWAR when appropriate, though, as it contains a base-running component. On a team level, I tend to stick to runs scored and OPS with on-the-fly adjustments made for ballpark effects.
You can make similar cases for mid-range average guys like Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward who had averages in the .270 but on base percentages in the .350’s because they could draw walks. I know, you could just add walks as a category but in doing so you would be penalizing players like Jones along with some of the players from the BA leaders above like Lorenzo Cain, Ben Revere and Josh Harrison. Now you’re still gonna have those high empty OBP guys just like you would empty BA guys; nothing you can do about that, no system is perfect. The difference is the right players are being rewarded. If your hits and walks are equal you are getting on base at an equal clip, right? Getting on base helps your team, just ask Billy Beane.
Whereas with resistance bands, the force profile applies more force to your bat the further and further you swing it in front of your body– meaning, you are at maximum resistance during the follow-through of the swing. So not only does the weight affect central nervous system motor patterns, but the force profile of the bands does not positively benefit the swing either.
As stated, to hit a baseball with power, the batter's swing must stay connected to the powerful muscle groups. However, far too many batters are taught mechanics that use the arms rather than rotation to initiate the acceleration of the hands and bat. Using the arms to fire the hands ahead of rotation disconnects the swing from the larger muscles and hitting with maximum power is lost.
Charlie Metro: I did a lot of study, and I found that it's impossible to throw Rickey Henderson out. I started using stopwatches and everything. I found that it was impossible to throw some guys out. They can go from first to second in 2.9 seconds; and no pitcher-catcher combination in baseball could throw from here (pitcher's mound) to there (catcher) to tag (2nd base) in 2.9. It was always 3, 3.1, 3.2, so actually, the runner that can make that continuous, regular move like Rickey's can't be thrown out, and he's proven it.
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".