Monday, December 18, 2017

From the Handbook: Long outs and home runs

It's been long enough since I delved into the Bill James Handbook for a topic that you might have hoped that I've given up trying to mine that vein. No such luck.

This section deals with long fly balls -- those that went out of the yard and those that were outs. Brian Dozier, for example, hit 10 fair balls at least 400 feet (according to this accounting); all 10 were homers. Obvious, you say? Well, no: Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers also hit 10 400-footers, and four of them were outs. (The Detroit park has some space to its centerfield.)

Most 400 foot (or more) flies do leave the yard. Joe Mauer was 3-for-3, Jorge Polanco 5-for-5, Byron Buxton 5-for-5, Eddie Rosario 8-for-8, Miguel Sano 14-for-14, Max Kepler and Eduardo Escobar 9-for-9.

Things start getting dicier just a little shorter, however. Dozier hit 20 balls between 390 and 400 feet; 12 were homers, eight were outs.  Rosario hit 17 balls that distance; nine were homers.  Kepler hit seven; four homers, three outs. Mauer's four were evenly split. Just eyeballing it, that seems the "usual" percentage; a bit over 50 percent of balls hit 390 to 400 feet are homers.

And then there's Sano. Sano hit nine balls that distance; eight were homers. I'll assume it's a fluke until I see it repeated.

(There's an obvious flaw in all this -- it doesn't account for balls neither caught or a homer, say a double off the wall.)

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