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.
On base plus Slugging (OPS): Somewhere, half way between traditional statistics and sabermetrics is what Fox sportscaster Joe Buck called "that new OPS statistic." Yes, he actually said that, during the 2011 World Series broadcast. (Notice that I resist the strong temptation to go off on a rant tangent, here, in an effort to stay on topic.) On base plus slugging, or OPS, is just that. Take a player’s on base percentage and add his slugging percentage, and voila, you get OPS. Now, I think that OPS is a very useful statistic ... for sluggers. But it’s still very much a slugger’s stat. OPS gives one base for walks, two for a single, three for a double, four for a triple, and five for a home run. We’re used to seeing OPS being discussed in conversations now when discussing the MVP awards for each league and it's commonly used in baseball discussions these days.

During Phase 3 or the release, the hitter will allow their arms to relax so the the barrel will continue upward through the path of the pitch with very little loss of bat speed.  Like I previously said, Phase 3 can happen earlier or later depending on the adjustment the hitter must make. If need be, the hitter can make contact during Phase 3 if they are early.  This is when you will see a hitter at contact with already extended arms.  This is not ideal but will save hitters when their timing isn’t perfect.  Just another reason why having a nice upward swing path is so important for longevity as a hitter.


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.
HITTERS POWER DRIVE CHALK MAT. FEATURES of POWER DRIVE CHALK MATS: Black turf for visually presentation of training with chalk lines, marks, circles, X’s and written goals. Includes 2 large pieces of sidewalk chalk. Thick 4″ bright red line sewn into turf on all mats for important pitchers & hitters stride line. Step down rubber that simulates game mound drive foot position to increase pitchers power drive. Teaches proper toe down for softball and drive angle for baseball. All mats available in FOAM BACKING with skid pad for hard surfaces such as wood, cement or tile or FLEECE BACKING for indoor carpet or turf surfaces. Hitters Power Drive mat has water jet cut insert hole to level HPD with front foot to face live pitching speeds. Turf plug included to use mat without Hitters Power Drive .
Staying connected to the body's rotational energy starts when the hitter steps into the batter's box to prepare the launch position. To acquire a powerful launch position, the batter's upper body and shoulders must rotate to a fully loaded position. An inward turn of the upper torso and shoulders stretches the muscles of the upper body and pelvic region. Some refer to this as loading. With good transfer mechanics, the contraction of these muscles combined with the energy of hip rotation is converted into angular acceleration of the bat-head. The video below shows, and discusses, a powerful launch position.
Great article! Your explanation of what it means to “relax” is definitely something all hitters struggle with, including myself. I’ve always been a “power-hitter”, but I didn’t really start hitting HRs consitently until I started putting backspin on the ball. For me at least, focusing on my swing and trying to have a backspin-promoting cut helped me RELAX and take the focus off of trying to kill the ball. I would grip the bat way too tight and pull everything, which was really frustrating. Another thing that helped me keep my hands relaxed was I started using that Pro-Hitter thumb ring that I saw pro’s like A-Gon and J Hamilton using… Again, great article! Thanks for providing more insight on something that all of us wish we could do at every at-bat haha! One can only dream…
Here are our nine candidates for best primary offensive stat -- and please note that every offensive stat here is very important, we're just trying to pick which is the top dog. Also note, categories such as doubles, triples and stolen bases are clearly important but couldn't be rationally argued as the most important stat. Thus, they were left out. - Matt Snyder
Powerful Legs that are trained through various movement patterns and skill sets. For example, you create a ton of power by super setting (performing these two exercises one after the other with little rest, then repeating) an exercise like a squat and a box hop. This combination of a strength development exercise and a plyometric exercise create explosive power.

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.


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.

I’ve given you some things to think about, but even if you want to ignore everything I said there is one argument you should give a second thought to.  Batting average basically equals hits.  OBP equals hits and walks.  You can add hits as another category but that would be redundant since you already have batting average.  You could add walks as a sixth category but then you’re left with trying to find another category to add to the pitchers side to even things out which could cause more headaches.  Changing BA to OBP just makes sense as it covers the two basic ways a player gets on base and shows the true value of that player.  Hits are nice, but there is more to baseball than that.
Runs scored (R): Aside from when a player hits a home run, he'll need some help from teammates -- most of the time -- to score a run. Still, players can do a lot to increase the number of times they score. Getting on base frequently, stealing bases, taking extra bases on singles or doubles, taking a base on a passed ball right in front of the catcher or even being such a scary baserunner to draw a balk are ways to spin around the bases better than others. Guys who score the most runs are great players, not those simply lucky to have good teammates driving them in. Here are the top 10 all-time in runs scored: Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Cap Anson, Stan Musial and Alex Rodriguez. Marginalize that group at your peril. - Snyder

Batting Average (AVG): In the beginning. If you google the term "batting champion," you will come up with the hitter in each league that has the highest batting average, and has at least 502 plate appearances for the season. That player will be declared the "batting champion" in each league. Miguel Cabrera is the batting champion in the American League, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the league’s most productive hitter. Batting average measures the percentage of time that a hitter gets a base hit. Walks don’t count, and home runs count the same as an infield single. By the way, Cabrera also led the league in on base, on base, on base.
Great article! Your explanation of what it means to “relax” is definitely something all hitters struggle with, including myself. I’ve always been a “power-hitter”, but I didn’t really start hitting HRs consitently until I started putting backspin on the ball. For me at least, focusing on my swing and trying to have a backspin-promoting cut helped me RELAX and take the focus off of trying to kill the ball. I would grip the bat way too tight and pull everything, which was really frustrating. Another thing that helped me keep my hands relaxed was I started using that Pro-Hitter thumb ring that I saw pro’s like A-Gon and J Hamilton using… Again, great article! Thanks for providing more insight on something that all of us wish we could do at every at-bat haha! One can only dream…
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).

Why should we use OBP? What advantage does it possess over batting average? The primary benefit of OBP is that it measures a player's performance with regards to avoiding outs. Baseball does not have a clock like so many other sports. Rather, baseball teams operate under the constraint of 27 outs. Once a team has used all 27 of its outs, then the game is over.


"Graham," you're probably thinking, "I know the rules of baseball. Why is this relevant?" Well, teams that are better at avoiding outs score more runs than teams that make outs frequently. This is intuitive when you think about it. For one, when a player doesn't make an out, he reaches base. At the simplest level, scoring runs is a function of reaching base and advancing runners. A player who reaches bases also hasn't used one of those precious 27 outs, thus giving batters behind him the opportunity to advance him and others around the bases. This is why sacrifice bunts do not make sense in several situations. It is rarely a good idea to attempt to use an out. We look at OBP in order to determine which hitters and teams reach base with regularity, and thus preserve a team's outs.
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.  

Runs scored (R): Aside from when a player hits a home run, he'll need some help from teammates -- most of the time -- to score a run. Still, players can do a lot to increase the number of times they score. Getting on base frequently, stealing bases, taking extra bases on singles or doubles, taking a base on a passed ball right in front of the catcher or even being such a scary baserunner to draw a balk are ways to spin around the bases better than others. Guys who score the most runs are great players, not those simply lucky to have good teammates driving them in. Here are the top 10 all-time in runs scored: Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Cap Anson, Stan Musial and Alex Rodriguez. Marginalize that group at your peril. - Snyder
Mark Trumbo led the majors in home runs (47) last season with the Baltimore Orioles yet could only parlay that into a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the club to return for 2017. Trumbo produced 2.2 fWAR in 2016, but was a liability in the field (his minus-11 defensive runs saved ranked him 170th out of 185 outfielders) and on the base paths (cost the Orioles two runs in 2016 due to his stolen bases, caught stealings and other base running plays).
HITTERS POWER DRIVE CHALK MAT. FEATURES of POWER DRIVE CHALK MATS: Black turf for visually presentation of training with chalk lines, marks, circles, X’s and written goals. Includes 2 large pieces of sidewalk chalk. Thick 4″ bright red line sewn into turf on all mats for important pitchers & hitters stride line. Step down rubber that simulates game mound drive foot position to increase pitchers power drive. Teaches proper toe down for softball and drive angle for baseball. All mats available in FOAM BACKING with skid pad for hard surfaces such as wood, cement or tile or FLEECE BACKING for indoor carpet or turf surfaces. Hitters Power Drive mat has water jet cut insert hole to level HPD with front foot to face live pitching speeds. Turf plug included to use mat without Hitters Power Drive .
Charlie Metro: "The good hitters get their tip-off from the pitchers. And there are many, many ways that a pitcher tips off his pitches. He grips it like that [fingers straight over top of ball]; there's your fastball. When he throws a curveball, he chokes the ball [wedges it between his thumb and forefinger, gripping it on the side so it sticks out]. Now see how much white of the ball shows on a fastball? And how much more white shows on a curveball? . . . Another thing is when they bring the ball into the glove, when they come in with a flat wrist like that, that'll be a fastball. When they turn their wrist like that, it's a breaking pitch. There are many, many ways, and the good hitters pick out these things . . . facial expressions . . . human habits and characteristics will tell."

On base percentage (OBP) or on base average (OBA) is an important component in a sabermetrics styled view of offensive productivity, but it is by no means the ultimate statistic to measure a hitter’s value. Unlike AVG and SLG, OBP does take walks into account, but it gives the same weight to a home run as it does to a single or a walk. Obviously, those are events in a baseball game that don’t have the same value in terms of producing runs. Billy Beane was quoted once as saying that OBA is three times as important as SLG. Well, is it? Not from a sabermetrics view point. Sabermetrics isn’t based on money at all. Bill James and the folks that blazed the trail for the development of sabermetrics certainly know that a home run has more value than a walk. It just so happens that players that had an ability to get on base were not paid as well as some of those who racked up RBIs. Obviously, the players who do it all get paid the most.
During Phase 3 or the release, the hitter will allow their arms to relax so the the barrel will continue upward through the path of the pitch with very little loss of bat speed.  Like I previously said, Phase 3 can happen earlier or later depending on the adjustment the hitter must make. If need be, the hitter can make contact during Phase 3 if they are early.  This is when you will see a hitter at contact with already extended arms.  This is not ideal but will save hitters when their timing isn’t perfect.  Just another reason why having a nice upward swing path is so important for longevity as a hitter.
Lanky build and weak muscles are not going to cut it if you dream of hitting home runs in a baseball game. You need to build your upper body and muscles, so the most basic thing to do is regularly bring these muscles into action, exercise and toughen them up. Try to do such exercises on a daily basis which involve your entire upper body. This will give you the requisite strength to hit a baseball farther.

Outfielder Ty Cobb, whose career ended in 1928, has the highest batting average in Major League Baseball (MLB) history.[1] He batted .366 over 24 seasons, mostly with the Detroit Tigers. In addition, he won a record 11 batting titles for leading the American League in BA over the course of an entire season. He batted over .360 in 11 consecutive seasons from 1909 to 1919.[2] Rogers Hornsby has the second highest BA of all-time, at .358.[1] He won seven batting titles in the National League (NL) and has the highest NL average in a single season since 1900, when he batted .424 in 1924. He batted over .370 in six consecutive seasons.[3]
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.
I'm an agnostic when it comes to a silver bullet statistic. Sure, it might exist somewhere, but I haven't seen evidence to support that. Instead, I think the sheer number and variety of statistics we have show just how much beauty and nuance there is in the game, and why it's the greatest game that's ever been. That said, I like OPS+ because it incorporates many different things -- getting on base (i.e. not making outs) and slugging, while also putting those performances into the context of a time (the season) and place (ballaparks). I also like the simplicity of 100 being average -- so if you see something like Barry Bonds' run of four years with a 230 or better OPS+ is simply superhuman (or some may say, unnatural).
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.

We’ve looked at the players with the higher batting averages, now let’s look at some of those players with low averages who were cursed at and ignored in fantasy.  We’ll start with last years whipping boy Carlos Santana and his .231 batting average.  We all loved his power and RBI numbers, but he dragged our averages down like the Titanic.  It might surprise you to know that Santana had a .365 OBP thanks in part to his 113 walks.  As a catcher we can tolerate low averages if a player hits for power, but not from someone who plays first (or third).  Using OBP though, Santana’s numbers were equal to Morneau in 3 categories and he had 10 more home runs. 
OBP refers to how frequently a batter reaches base per plate appearance. Times on base include hits, walks and hit-by-pitches, but do not include errors, times reached on a fielder's choice or a dropped third strike. (Separately, sacrifice bunts are removed from the equation entirely, because it is rarely a hitter's decision to sacrifice himself, but rather a manager's choice as part of an in-game strategy.)
An example is the Internet Archive, which uses the term in ranking downloads. Its "batting average" indicates the correlation between views of a description page of a downloadable item, and the number of actual downloads of the item. This avoids the effect of popular downloads by volume swamping potentially more focused and useful downloads, producing an arguably more useful ranking.
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