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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Arizona Diamondbacks’ hitters locking in with new approach

Too bad nobody thought of this before. Can you imagine how good Ted Williams could have been?

Jim Furtado Posted: April 11, 2018 at 07:34 PM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: diamondbacks

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 11, 2018 at 09:02 PM (#5651881)
While some of it is obvious (stop swinging at pitches you can't hit well), the interesting bit (to me) is approaching it not as looking for a pitch that will end up in a given location but that they are stressing looking for pitches that are released in certain locations ... what they're calling "tunnels." Now the article implies it doesn't matter if the pitch is a fastball or breaking ball which makes no sense so there has to be more to it.

That might not be revolutionary -- obviously hitters can't wait to find out where a pitch will be located to swing at it, so every batter is deciding based on release point or at least early trajectory. So it may be nothing more than semantics or "yes, you want inner half but in order for it to be inner half, it has to be released in this box..." but if that helps a batter like Owings to put 2 and 2 together, that's great. Maybe part of his problem was that he was trying to predict where the pitch was heading and now he realizes he can instead assess (easier than predict) where the ball was released.

He's still got to track it and smack it though.

There's a tidbit on the Astros of course -- namely that they had the highest SLG on 2 strikes of any team. This is credited to not changing their approach, even with 2 strikes -- which might be true. But they also struck out less often than any other team.

With "2 strikes", the 2017 AL hit 177/252/287 with a 41% K-rate. The Astros hit 200/273/323 with a 36% K-rate. So that's 23 points of BA and 13 points of ISO. The extra points of ISO might be about not changing their approach but it's hard to see why the 23 points of BA would. A big chunk of that superior offense was making more contact with 2 strikes which will nearly always result in a nice boost to BA and a bit to ISO. (The walk rates are pretty much identical.) If we look at what the Astros did on-contact with 2 strikes it was 336/544 while the league hit 324/525, so some of it is hitting what they hit better but a lot of it is hitting more stuff.

So the question is how did they hit the ball better when they made contact with 2 strikes while also making more contact with 2 strikes -- that's the holy grail. Of course some of that is just having better hitters than the average AL team to begin with. This is also the generic "2 strikes" while obviously 0-2 and 3-2 are quite different beasties so we'd want to adjust for whether the Astros had a distribution of two-strike counts similar to other teams.

Still that was the real secret to what the Astros did last year -- they had (relatively) few Ks while still crushing the ball when they did hit it (and still walking). They had the second-best "fair ball" OPS (the closest standard split to "on-contact") and arguably the best since they had the highest BA/OBP ... but most importantly, they had nearly 600 more fair balls than the 1st place As (over 15% more), 300 more than the 3rd place Yanks and about 300 more than the average AL team (7-7.5%).

(To be clear, it would obviously be better to compare the Astros to the rest of the AL rather than to the AL average (which includes the Astros) but I'm too lazy.)

OF course it's not just the Ks. The 2018 Royals are K'ing only 17.6% of the time, about the same as the 2017 Astros, and are dead last in scoring thanks in large part to a 1.2% HR rate and an impressive 263 BABIP. It's possible the Royals batters are not as talented as the Astros batters.

By the way, Moose got off to a horrible start but apparently hit a couple HRs recently (he has 2, Duda has 2). His teeny sample OPS+ is up to 153. Hosmer has started out well too with a high BA and lots of doubles.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2018 at 09:42 PM (#5651922)
So now they have replaced the words "Jeff Franceour" with "Arizona Diamondbacks" in this annual article.
   3. shoewizard Posted: April 11, 2018 at 10:58 PM (#5651997)
So now they have replaced the words "Jeff Franceour" with " The First Place Arizona Diamondbacks" in this annual article.


FTFY ;

Seriously this adds little or nothing to the conversation, but check out the career OPS+ of today's lineup

Dyson 85
Marte 83
Goldy 145
Pollock 114
Owings 80
Ahmed 64
Marrero 46
Murphy 69

I mean this is Goldy and the 7 dwarves.

So of course they scored 7 runs and won.
   4. shoewizard Posted: April 12, 2018 at 04:21 AM (#5652058)
I should add, this is what it's SUPPOSED to look like, but Lamb, Souza, and Now Peralta all on shelf

Here is what it’s SUPPOSED to look like

Peralta 112
Pollock 114
Goldy 145
Lamb 104
Souza 106
Avila 104
Marte 83
Ahmed 64

Super Utility: Owings 80
   5. Walt Davis Posted: April 12, 2018 at 03:58 PM (#5652481)
C'mon now, Pollock's career 114 OPS+ qualifies as at least 5'10", not dwarfish. :-)

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