Just before the pitcher pitches the baseball, you should be standing in a perfect stance so that you can hit the ball right. A good stance includes planting your feet firmly on the ground, slightly wider than your shoulders and your weight should be balanced on the balls of your feet. Such a stance will give you the rapid swinging freedom which you need when swinging the bat at the incoming ball.
Through Phase 2 the hitter can start to also make adjustments to inside or outside pitches. If the pitch it outside, Phase 2 will be significantly shorter so that they can start to enter Phase 3, the “release”. If however the pitch is inside, the hitter should continue in Phase 2 longer so that there is zero loss of force. Hitters that stop their shoulder rotation too soon are almost always going to compensate with the pushing of their arms.
The key to hitting a baseball with power is staying connected to the body's rotational energy. Body rotation is powered by the larger and more powerful muscles of the legs, hips and torso. For a batter to hit the ball with maximum power, his swing mechanics must stay connected and make efficient use of these larger muscle groups. This article discusses the important steps needed to produce a swing that transfers the body's rotational power into hitting power.
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?
Shoeless Joe Jackson is the only other player to finish his career with a batting average over .350. He batted .356 over 13 seasons before he was permanently suspended from organized baseball in 1921 for his role in the Black Sox Scandal. Lefty O'Doul first came to the major leagues as a pitcher, but after developing a sore arm, he converted to an outfielder and won two batting titles. The fifth player on the list, and the last with at least a .345 BA, is Ed Delahanty. Delahanty's career was cut short when he fell into the Niagara Falls and died during the 1903 season.
This new formula, which they referred to as gOBP, both credits the batter for reaching on errors and penalizes the batter for sacrifice bunts. They argue first, that any baserunner gives his team a chance to score, regardless how he reached base; second, that the batter can influence whether a batted ball becomes an error*; and third, that if HBPs (which are basically mistakes by the pitcher) are counted as positive events in OBP, then errors (mistakes by the fielders) should as well. To support these arguments, they show that team gOBP correlates better with runs per game (R/G) than the traditional team OBP.
Don't swing down on the ball. The backspin you gain from doing so does not outweigh the exit velocity loss that occurs as a result. The best way to get distance is to swing up through the ball. If you slightly undercut the ball that way, you get backspin while achieving a better launch angle and maintaining as much exit velocity as possible. Advanced analytics show that the most effective way to hit home runs is to swing with an attack angle that's slightly less than the ideal launch angle. The following article explains this in more depth.
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.
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.
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:
HR/FB% – This stands for home run to fly ball rate, which is the percentage of fly balls a player hits that end up as home runs. While this stat doesn’t play much of a role in BABIP due to the fact that home runs are factored out of the BABIP equation, it is definitely a key component of a player’s batted ball profile. HR/FB% is a stat that is largely skill based, but typically doesn’t see much fluctuation from year-to-year, so a player that posts a HR/FB% much lower than their career norm is very likely to bounce back the following season and vice versa.
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.
If the batter doesn't hit the ball just right, he's in trouble. An amazing series of reactions propels a shortstop or third baseman into the path of a hard-hit ball. In two steps or less, he may have already caught the ball and fired it to first base for an out, with a swiftness and assurance acquired only through years of practice. Inherited skill alone just won't do the job.
For small numbers of at-bats, it is possible (though unlikely) for a player's on-base percentage to be lower than his batting average (H/AB). This happens when a player has almost no walks or times hit by pitch, with a higher number of sacrifice flies (e.g. if a player has 2 hits in 6 at-bats plus a sacrifice fly, his batting average would be .333, but his on-base percentage would be .286). The player who experienced this phenomenon with the most number of at-bats over a full season was Ernie Bowman. In 1963, with over 125 at-bats, Bowman had a batting average of .184 and an on-base percentage of .181.
Certainly this feat also involves an almost instantaneous ability to estimate trajectories. In the case of the frog, researchers have been able to locate specific nerve cells in the frog retina and in the brain which are excited by small, dark, moving objects. The frog apparently pays no attention to these objects until their images begin to grow bigger on his retina, indicating that they are moving closer to him. If all other visual cues are right, out goes the tongue.
Outfielder Ty Cobb, whose career ended in 1928, has the highest batting average in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. 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. Rogers Hornsby has the second highest BA of all-time, at .358. 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.
Most baseball players think that hitting is all about the upper body and that they can simply ignore the fitness of the lower body. This is a grave mistake. When you are swinging your bat on the plate, your legs and trunk are playing a critical role in supporting your swing and adding momentum to it. So make lower body exercises a regular part of your drill as well. The lower body will help you add that extra bit of power into your hitting.
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".