So OBP=Runs, Billy Beane was right. That doesn’t mean that the players on the left are bad, but they are inferior to the players on the right when it comes to scoring runs (and several other categories). Justin Morneau had a fine season, but 17 home runs and 62 runs scored hardly make him the better fantasy player. Lorenzo Cain stole 28 bases, but with 53 RBIs and 55 runs scored that .301 average is kind of empty, don’t you think? So far OBP favors the better overall player.
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.
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.
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.”
Of course there’s some difficulty in identifying the best active hitting pitchers, foremost because hurlers are so often asked to just lay down a bunt or attempt to move a runner via sacrifice. And those are good skills to have. So we decided to use OPS (on base % + slugging %) as a measure because sacrifices are filtered out from at-bats and OPS indicates pitchers that can hit and hit for extra bases, and also draw a walk. Now take a look at this group of pitchers’ hitting credentials (minimum 40 at-bats). Also note that the MLB average OPS across all hitters in '16 was .739.
Watching a player in batting practice will tell you whether or not he can square up a baseball. If he is hitting one-hoppers through the infield that land in the dirt to line drives that are short-hopping the wall, he is squaring up the baseball. If he is consistently hitting balls that land within 45 feet of the plate or are high pop flies, his swing plane is not right and he will not be able to hit at a high level.
Without a doubt, batting average is important. It shows a hitters ability to reach base on a swing, a vital part of baseball. However, let's compare the two statistics in a more logical manner. Every inning, there are three outs that the defense must make in order to end the inning. On base percentage shows the odds that a hitter does not make one of these three outs. It is calculated by counting walks as well as hits, so prolific walkers will often display a high differential between batting average and on base percentage.
On an individual level, I'm partial to OPS+ because it's a clear upgrade over traditional measures and, unlike oWAR (which I think is more accurate in a vacuum), it's not quite as off-putting to the uninitiated. I'll happily lean on oWAR when appropriate, though, as it contains a base-running component. On a team level, I tend to stick to runs scored and OPS with on-the-fly adjustments made for ballpark effects.
IFFB% – This stands for infield fly ball percentage, which is the percentage of fly balls a player hits that end up as infield pop ups. Lazy flies to the infield are about as easy to field as they come, so they are considered essentially automatic outs. Because of that, it would be fair to say that a player who hits a lot of infield flies is not likely to have a very good BABIP. However, even the player with the worse IFFB% last year was at just 17.3%, so hitting a lot of automatic outs isn’t going to make a huge difference, but definitely a noticeable one. Batters who avoided these easy outs last year (better-than-league average IFFB%) had a better BABIP (.312) than their counterparts who did not (.298).
Overall, BABIP is a stat that is largely out of the batters control, which makes sense because as a hitter, once you hit the ball onto the field, you can’t affect what happens next. The league average BABIP is usually right around .300, meaning balls in play typically land for a hit about 30% of the time. So in theory, if a player has a BABIP of .350, you might say he had a “lucky” season, and you could expect him to regress the following season, right? On the surface it makes sense, but the whole point of this article is to look beyond just the surface stats, and that is exactly what we will do.
Home runs (HR): The argument for this one is pretty simple. The best possible thing a hitter can do in any given at-bat is hit a home run. No matter what. You can't name a single offensive circumstance where something else would help the team more than a home run. My disdain for hearing "we don't need a home run" is a topic for a different day. Still, even the leaders in home run totals each year generally hit a home run around 5 to 10 percent of the time. So if you only focus on homers and ignore everything else, the odds of coming up with the best overall offensive player probably aren't great. - Snyder
Adjusted OPS-plus (OPS+): You might be familiar with OPS, which is simply on-base percentage added to slugging percentage (forget, for the moment, that they have different denominators). OPS+ is simply OPS adjusted for park and league conditions. It's scaled to 100, which means that 100 indicates a league-average OPS adjusted for park and league. An OPS+ of 110, for instance, is an OPS that's 10 percent better than the league average. On the other end, an OPS+ of 85 is one that's 15 percent worse than the league average. It's useful in that you can make a thumbnail comparison between, say, a hitter in Coors Field in 2000 to one in Dodger Stadium in 1968. It helps correct for the two things that most often corrupt unadjusted stats -- home parks and eras -- and it leans on the the two most important things a hitter can do -- get on base and hit for power. - Dayn Perry
Here's how to practice the proper weight shift going back. Set up with your driver, but take a narrow stance, about 12 inches wide. Then make a slow-motion swing, stepping out with your right foot as you start the club away (above). This side step will get your weight shifting to the right. With your weight in your right instep, you're in position to drive your body toward the target as you swing down. That's how you hit the ball with power.
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.
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).
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.
If you want to hit farther, hitting the ball straight-on may not be the best way of doing it. Successful players who tend to score home-runs generally try to focus on hitting at the lower two-thirds of the baseball. This gives the hit both height as well as distance. So the next time you are aiming at hitting far, try to focus on the lower two-thirds of the baseball. This is a tough nut to crack and may take some practicing before you are able to master it.
The only reason Carter's swinging strike rate isn't the highest in the league is that he's a relatively patient guy who sees a lot of pitches, otherwise he'd have the clean sweep. Although Chris Carter's actual career batting average is not unfathomably low at .220, it's pretty clear that his ability to make contact is the worst around. Additionally, Carter may have enjoyed more than his fair share of luck on balls in play because his career.294 BABIP seems a little steep for a guy with a batted ball profile like the one shown below:
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To show an example on this comparison of statistics, two ballplayers who play the same position but have drastically different approaches will be examined: Robinson Cano (Yankees 2B) and BJ Upton (Devil Rays 2B/CF). Both have somewhat similar batting averages this season - despite a slow start, Cano is hitting .263 while Upton is at a clip of .271. The difference between batting averages is less than 1 hit per 100 at bats, so they are nearly the same. When comparing their on base percentages, though, a huge difference is discovered. Cano, who almost never walks, has an on base percentage of just .298, way below the major league average of .330. Upton, on the other hand, carries a .381 on base percentage. So although the two reach base almost exactly the same amount on hits, Upton reaches base nearly 1 more time every 10 at bats than Cano simply because he is willing to take a few strikes in order to draw monumentally more walks.
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".