Thursday, November 9, 2017

From the Handbook: Hard hit balls

OK, Twins fans: Who on this team was most likely in a random plate appearance to hit the ball hard? Now, hold that thought.

The second topic in the 2018 Bill James Handbook is on hard-hit balls. James wrote a essay introducing the topic, which is new to the annual reference work, delving into the meanings, implications and distortions of the metric. As always, context is key.

For example: When Giancarlo Stanton on Miguel Sano hit the ball hard, the result is often a home run. When Victor Martinez or Joe Mauer hit the ball hard, the result is more often a line drive or hard grounder on which a play might be made. (And since Mauer and Martinez are both converted catchers and run like converted catchers, infielders can afford to play them deeper.)

On average, the batting average on hard-hit balls is .538, the average on medium-hit balls is .268 and the average on soft-hit balls is .158. Those averages are not universal. Austin Jackson last year hit .360 on soft-hit balls, .400 in 2016. This is part of his skill set.

Anyway, to the question posed at the start: Joe Mauer is the sole Twin to place in the top 50 in hard-hit ball frequency (100 plate appearances minimum), 27.1 percent. He hit 162 balls hard, 85 of them for hits.

No comments:

Post a Comment