*To test this, I collected all batters in the Retrosheet database since 1975 who logged at least 300 plate appearances in two consecutive seasons. (Multiple batters, of course, could appear multiple times.) This covered 5,607 batters, from Barry Bonds's 2002 (.582 OBP, .587 gOBP) to Mario Mendoza's 1979 (.216 OBP, .219 gOBP). As before, I fit a linear relationship between each statistic in year 1 and the same statistic in year 2, and determined the respective correlation coefficients.*

`Moving a single group of muscles may require the interaction of numerous nerve cells and involve multiple synaptic delays, as the body receives sensory information (sees the ball), processes it (makes a decision), and coordinates muscle action (swings the bat). Practice eliminates wasted time by speeding up the decision-making -- somehow the obvious mistakes and fruitless actions a novice spends time thinking about are simply ignored by the practiced player, and his brain saves the time needed to consider them. But basic reaction time due to nerve conduction and synaptic delay remains an irreducible constant of the game.`

_{In baseball, the batting average (BA) is defined by the number of hits divided by at bats. It is usually reported to three decimal places and pronounced as if it were multiplied by 1,000: a player with a batting average of .300 is "batting three-hundred." A point (or percentage point) is understood to be .001 . If necessary to break ties, batting averages could be taken to more than three decimal places. }

*To compare the performance of OBP and gOBP, we compute a weighted mean squared error (WMSE) to quantify the difference between the expected and actual statistic for the set of batter/pitcher matchups in each bin. The number of plate appearances is used to weight each bin, so that more common pairings affected the final score more than rarer ones. We collected all matchups between batters and pitchers with at least 50 total PAs in a season from 2010 through 2013, a sample of more than 750,000 PAs. The WMSE (along with the unweighted mean squared error) for both OBP and gOBP are given below.*

**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."**

**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.**

My intention here is not to criticize Leyland, nor is it to promote sabermetrics as a healthy lifestyle for all baseball fans. I’d just like to share the location of a very comfortable place that I’ve found in the world of statistics, that has a pretty good overall viewpoint and doesn’t make me dizzy when folks start speaking in saber. I’d also like to make this a place that even a casual baseball fan, one that is intimidated by "advanced metrics" can get to rather easily, without getting queazy. It’s really not a steep climb.

##### It is important to remember that there will almost certainly be some “bleeding” of the phases. As much as a hitter might train, their will always be tiny little timing and mechanical mistakes leading to some of the “bleeding effect” of the phases. The most important thing to remember as a hitter is really to be great at preparing to swing properly followed by being great into Phase 1. If the the transition from your load into Phase 1 is executed at a high level, then Phase 2 and 3 will require very little attention. Eliminate early mistakes and prepare to feel effortless power.

`You just need to look at some of the players hitting between .280 and .285 to see the validity in Correa's point: Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter, Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez and Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones qualify for the new .300. Every one of them was an All-Star this year.`

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

^{Equal power and equal run scoring abilities, yet using batting average, Dozier is inferior. It doesn’t seem fair that two players of equal skills are ranked so far apart in fantasy, but player X had 31 more hits while Dozier had 31 more walks with the same results. If you’re a numbers guy you might have guess who player X is, but for those that haven’t figured it out, it’s Anthony Rendon. Rendon is shooting up draft boards while Dozier is left waiting until the mid-early rounds. If there was a poster boy for using OBP over BA, it’s Dozier. }

*Walk/strikeout ratio. The exception is that he does look at the ratio of walks to strikeouts. Elite hitters in high school shouldn’t be striking out a lot. No more than 7 strikeout in 100 at bats in high school. For example, 12 walks and 88 strikeouts is NOT what they want to see. On the other hand, more walks than strikeouts is very promising. Orioles scout Jim Thrift knows that this stat shows a lot about a player’s discipline, hand/eye coordination and knowledge of the strike zone.*

*Since the beginning of baseball, one stat has reigned supreme over all others: the batting average. Simply put, the best hitters are always considered to be those who possess the highest. Every year, the best hitter in the game is generally considered to be the person who retained the highest batting average. This brings about a question: Is batting average really as important as it is made out to be? Or is it actually less important than another similar stat, On base percentage?*

Recall that we can use the batter's OBP, the pitcher's OBP, and the league OBP to find an expected OBP for a given matchup using the odds ratio. Since gOBP is still a proportion, we can use it to perform the same analysis. To determine which is more accurate, we first group the batters and pitchers into bins with width five points (.005). We then find an expected OBP for all pitchers and batters in that bin, and compare this to the actual results of those matchups. As an example, consider the first pair in our database: David Aardsma and Bobby Abreu, who faced each other once in 2010.

When a hitter puts the ball in play, the major league average to get a hit is only slightly above .300. The upper tier of hitters can average around .340, which is how they manage to consistently hit above .300 year in and year out. What this number means is that a ball hit in fair territory (many swings do not hit the ball fair) has nearly a 70% chance of being an out. This is where the walk comes into play. Hitters who are patient enough to work counts and take pitches are much more susceptible to walks than those who chase every first pitch. The odds of reaching base after taking 4 balls is obviously 100%. Essentially, hitters must be lucky in order to get a hit, while drawing a walk guarantees them to reach base. This is why the walk is such a vital part of baseball overlooked by many.

`Now that we’ve covered slash lines, plate discipline, and batted ball data, that about does it for the hitting side of advanced baseball stats, but before I wrap up, I need to mention one important thing. All of the statistics that I used were from players who had a qualifying season (3.1 plate appearances per team game which is roughly 500 PA). The pre-mentioned stats are most effectively used when you have a good sample size of data to work with, and you should watch out for stats that are skewed by small sample sizes. Make sure that when you are evaluating a player’s skill set, they have accumulated enough plate appearances (usually you want to aim for a minimum of 100) to make the data you’re working with relevant.`

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**To test this, I collected all batters in the Retrosheet database since 1975 who logged at least 300 plate appearances in two consecutive seasons. (Multiple batters, of course, could appear multiple times.) This covered 5,607 batters, from Barry Bonds's 2002 (.582 OBP, .587 gOBP) to Mario Mendoza's 1979 (.216 OBP, .219 gOBP). As before, I fit a linear relationship between each statistic in year 1 and the same statistic in year 2, and determined the respective correlation coefficients.**

While all those stats can be very helpful individually, using them all to establish a batted ball profile will help you to get a solid idea of what a player’s hitting skill set really is. For the most part, a player with a solid LD% and IFH% can be expected to put up an above-average BABIP, while a player with a large FB% and IFFB% can be expected to post a below-average mark. With that framework in mind, let’s look at a quick example from the 2014 season:

## 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 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.

^{Hitting a baseball is one of the toughest skills in all of sport. The entire sequence, from the pitcher's release of the ball to the contact with the bat, happens in the blink of an eye. This quick series of events combines two of the most important skills for a baseball player: hand-eye coordination and power development. Hand-eye coordination helps the batter locate the ball during its flight and appropriately maneuver the bat. The power element is crucial for adding distance to hits and building a well-rounded batter. }

While hitting for a high batting average does not exclude hitting for power, the most successful batters with the highest averages are very good at situational hitting. This means that they can identify gaps in defensive coverage or anticipate pitches better, giving them more of an advantage at the plate. A typical player with a high batting average is patient at the plate and can hit the ball effectively to both sides of the field.