A major league pitcher can throw a baseball up to 95 miles per hour -- some can move it even faster. At this speed, it takes about four tenths of a second for the ball to travel the 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher's mound to home plate, where the batter, with muscles as tense as coiled springs, like a predatory animal about to pounce, waits for the precise moment to swing at the ball. Baseball is a game played at the edge of biological time, just within the limits of a human's ability to react.
Am I the only person who feels cheated? I feel cheated out of seeing actual skilled batsmen. I feel cheated in that the only records being broken are by guys who seem to have the advantage of steroids. I feel cheated that home run records seem to be broken more than wooden bats, but hitting for average seems to be lost in the translation of the "new MLB."
Compared to catching a hard-hit line drive on the run, it would seem that catching the pop-up fly would be simple. But it isn't. It may be that, given enough time, the room for error in estimation of flight path actually increases; a player may think himself into an error. This is like trying to draw a straight line freehand. If you look where you want to draw the line and then just draw it there without concentrating, you will probably succeed in drawing a fairly straight line. If, on the other hand, you worry about how straight the line is, millimeter by millimeter, the task becomes impossible. Catching a ball may be easier when there's no time to think.
In certain unofficial calculations, the denominator is simplified and replaced by Plate Appearance (PA); however, the calculation PAs includes certain infrequent events that will slightly lower the calculated OBP (i.e. catcher's interference, and sacrifice bunts). Sacrifice bunts are excluded from consideration on the basis that they are usually imposed by the manager with the expectation that the batter will not reach base, and thus do not accurately reflect the batter's ability to reach base when attempting to do so.
Slugging percentage (SLG): Compared to most of the other "old" statistics, slugging is beautiful in its simplicity -- it's simply total bases divided by at-bats, and gives us a nice snapshot of a player's power. Think about it, with batting average you have to factor in fielder's choices, errors and walks and the such, while slugging is easy (although, it is a derivative of batting average, as you need at-bats instead of plate appearances). It also passes my test for a useful stat -- immediate understanding of what it means when you glance at the number. - Rosecrans
All joking aside, "hitting for contact" is a much better way to describe the "hit" tool. When scouts talk about players with the hit tool they aren't saying, "this is a guy who could really get a few ground balls through the infield and survive off an inflated BABIP", they are saying something far more basic and important: "this guy can hit a baseball." If a player makes it to the major leagues as a position player they probably have some kind of knack for hitting baseballs, but some players are definitely better than others. More importantly, for the purposes of this series, there is one player who is the worst. The first name that probably comes to mind for many readers is Adam Dunn. However, there is a new king when it comes to the whiff, and that man is Chris Carter of the Astros.
BAA is very common in evaluating pitchers -- especially when assessing opponent handed-ness splits. A pitcher cannot have an ERA against left-handed hitters because they are interspersed with righties in lineups. So when a pitcher's ability against hitters from each side of the plate is being compared, it is usually done by using either BAA or OPS-against.