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.
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".
A few reactions are fast because they skip the brain altogether--the knee-jerk reflex, for example, requiring only a few nerve-cell-to-nerve-cell interconnections, and thus happens in "the blink of an eye." The neural pathway makes a short loop from sensory cells through interneurons to motor nerve cells, which control the appropriate muscle groups. A message is sent to the brain at the same time it is sent to the muscles, so we actually become aware of the knee jerk as it happens.
A Strong Core is essential to a softball player. So why do so many players have a weak abdominals? Good question. This is another exercise routine that can get lost in translation. You’re not training your core to look good in your bathing suit, you’re training your core to be functional; to rotate when you swing, open up and rotate when you throw, stabilize your hips and create balance. Your goal is to mimic your core work in a fashion that transforms power onto the field. Here is a favorite exercise of mine to create rotational core power; rotational medicine ball throws. Start in your hitting stance and hold onto a medicine ball then rotate into a swing. Sounds pretty simple but super effective. My second favorite is bear crawls with bands. The key to this exercise is doing it correctly. Your butt should not be up in the air, back stays flat and your feet should move forward outside of your hips. This is a definite twofer. This exercise hits the hips and core in one movement.
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The best way I can explain “Hitting for Average” is that this tool is not just solely focused on a person’s batting average. This tool is more about having the ability to have a consistent swing, the ability to keep the bat on-plane for a long period of time, and the ability to square up baseballs on a regular basis. I wrote another article about having the ability to “Repeat Your Best Swing.”
These are just a few examples of the many critical factors that come into play regarding your hitting power that go outside the scope of what I can control on the gym floor. Essentially, you can do everything I tell you to do in this article to improve hitting power, but if you don’t have the proper technique to execute and express that power then your first priority is to learn proper batting technique.
The strongest man doesn’t always have the hardest hit, technique determines many factors and in most cases is more important than your strength or power levels. But if you’re somebody who has your batting technique in check, adding strength and power to the muscles responsible for improving your performance in this area can dramatically alter your presence on the plate.
Some fantasy scoring systems count on-base percentage in lieu of batting average. But regardless of a league's offensive-rate stat of choice, OBP tends to correlate with runs scored. And because Major League front offices value OBP highly, low-average hitters often receive their ample share of playing time -- and, thus, opportunities to accumulate fantasy counting stats -- as long as they walk enough to post satisfactory OBPs.
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.
We all know that a .260 batting average is about average while a mark of .200 is quite poor. We know that .300 is a good figure and that .340 will often win the batting title. However, the values of an average, good, or bad OBP are not so ingrained in us. In 2013, the major league OBP was .318. Among players who qualified for the batting title, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera had the highest OBP with a mark of .442. Kansas City's Alcides Escobar posted the lowest figure at .259. Below, I have included a table that shows OBP for various percentiles in 2013. For example, Matt Holliday's OBP of .389 was better than that of 90% of qualified batters in 2013.
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
Setting up the drill, you want to have the bucket behind the back foot of the hitter. The purpose is to work on the transfer of weight from the back leg. In order to do that, we cannot simply rotate our back leg while our foot is anchored. This is why this drill is so helpful, the bucket will give you immediate feedback for incorrect or correct weight transfer.
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.
I am in a 14 team league with average and OPS, wish it was OPS and OBP. I had Dozier in that league, the year before I had Altuve and Dozier. I went after SanDiego’s Cabrera what a mistake. Hope to have Altuve and Dozier this year but for value Altuve looks to be a early 2nd round pick, that is to high for me, I would rather get a guy with power and RBI’s in the first two rounds.
OPS stands for on base plus slugging and is exactly what it sounds like. You take a player’s OBP and add it to their SLG to get OPS. This stat is often used to measure a player’s overall ability as a hitter, combining their skill at getting on base (OBP) with their aptitude to hit for power (SLG). Sometimes it will be included at the end of a typical slash line, so if you see a slash with four different numbers in it, then OPS is what the fourth one represents.
On the strength of a batting average of thirty-three point nought seven for Middlesex, he had been engaged by the astute musical-comedy impresario to whom the idea first occurred that, if you have got to have young men to chant 'We are merry and gay, tra-la, for this is Bohemia,' in the Artists' Ball scene, you might just as well have young men whose names are known to the public.
We need to compare the best batting averages from 2000 — when offense was at an all-time high, thanks at least in part to the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in the game — with the averages of today, with pitching strong and PED testing rigorous. In 2000, 30% of all major league players with 400 plate appearances finished with a .300 batting average or better. So in 2014, if a hitter ranks in the top 30% of batting averages, why shouldn't he be considered the equivalent of a .300 hitter from 15 seasons ago?