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Saturday, April 20, 2013

BtBS: Home Runs and Horizontal Exit Angles

Introduction - The day I found Hit Tracker (now-named ESPN Home Run Tracker) was a life-changing experience for me. At first I perused the site as normal people are wont to do, looking at the longest homers, finding hitters who are getting a little lucky, and reading about the physics of pokes.

Then I started to, well, do my thing. The first research I did on this data set was to create the Home Run Damage statistic, which I still feature on my personal blog, Steal of Home. Next, I confirmed that hitters who hit a bunch of “Just Enough” home runs actually hit fewer the following year.

But of course, that is not enough. Today I will look at a different part of the data, mainly horizontal exit angle. At which angle do most home runs leave the bat, how does this compare for different handed batters, and which parks are more conducive to different angled home runs?

Method - The first thing I did was remove all inside-the-park home runs. They’re fun to watch, but in the words of Stephen Colbert, people only hit inside-the-park homers because the outfielders fell down… and are children.

The second important thing to talk about is horizontal angle. This is the exit angle off the bat, not the angle at which the ball landed. The best example of this I can give you is that one time Giancarlo Stanton hit a grand slam off Jamie Moyer (I’ll wait for you to watch that video multiple times, get a glass of water, and regroup). The ball lands on the foul side of the right [sic] field line (past 135 degrees, knocking out part of the scoreboard), but it actually left the bat at 124.7 degrees and curved because physics.

Finally, I grouped home runs into nine buckets for two reasons. The first is to better explain the angles in terms of an actual baseball field, as shown in the following chart. The second is because I really like using the term “buckets” when talking about data.

bobm Posted: April 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: home runs

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: April 21, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4421366)
Excellent article. It takes a bit to digest all the information in it, but it does have pretty graphs. :)

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