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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Davey Johnson Thinks All This Launch Angle Talk Is “a Bunch of Crap”

Playing for the Dodgers primarily in a bench role from 1973 to 1979, Mota batted .312 in 652 plate appearances, as well as a .376 OBP. Tango believes that a talented batter is just that, regardless of whether it’s coming in after the seventh inning with the game on the line or hitting in the starting lineup. Davey Johnson concurs.  

“Yeah, I think they’re just good hitters,” Johnson agrees. “When the situation arises and you look for your pitch, it’s about being aggressive.  They can talk about launch angles all they want, but getting a pitch in your zone, you can call it clutch hitting, I call it a guy who knows what he likes to hit. There are guys who take first pitch fastballs right down the middle. I never took a first pitch right down the middle. I may not get that pitch again. But yeah, all this talk about launch angles is a bunch of crap.”

djordan Posted: May 16, 2018 at 07:58 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: clutch hitting, davey johnson

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   1. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: May 16, 2018 at 05:58 PM (#5673802)
Ahhh ... Manny Mota sighting. One of my favorite players as a kid.
   2. McCoy Posted: May 16, 2018 at 05:59 PM (#5673803)
I guess I'm at a loss as to how launch angle gets in the way of fat fastballs right down the middle.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 16, 2018 at 06:02 PM (#5673805)
Is that cloud pissing you off, Davey?
   4. perros Posted: May 16, 2018 at 06:09 PM (#5673809)
Two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
   5. puck Posted: May 16, 2018 at 10:29 PM (#5673928)
It's actually a pretty good article. But the launch angle comment has absolutely nothing to do with it, they're talking about pinch hitting. Did the author find all these guys or did he pull the quotes from old articles w/o citation? Johnson, Mota, Mark Carreon and Kurt Bevacqua.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:18 PM (#5673956)
I think Davey is using "launch angle" as a stand-in for "this new-fangled hitting approach." I mean "getting a pitch in your zone" has never been confused with "clutch hitting" either. So I'm guessing he's in the "ya got good hitters, ya got bad hitters. Ya got good pitches to hit, ya got bad pitches to hit. If you're a good hitter and you get a good pitch to hit, launch angle ain't got nothing to do with it ..." except of course it does.

Or ... "Aaron never talked about launch angle and he was pretty good" ... though I bet he did, just in different terms. Something I came across the other day that did rather surprise me. We don't have G/F data going back very far but we do have GO/AO. (ground outs to air outs) I don't know how well that correlates with G/F but it seems to pretty well. Anyway (1) until possibly the last two years, league-average GO/AO has been very stable for a very long time; (2) Aaron's career was 0.84 (league 1.07) while Stanton's is 1.06 (league 1.10). I'm guessing exit velocity and launch angle were a pretty big part of Hank's game.
   7. BDC Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:37 PM (#5673966)
Ted Williams was well-known for recommending a “slight uppercut” at a time when the level swing was the received wisdom.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:47 PM (#5673970)
I practiced my swing in the mirror recently and realized that I definitely have the old conventional wisdom swing. My bat starts high, dips down into the strikezone, is only level for a moment, and then comes back up again.
   9. djordan Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:49 PM (#5673972)
#5, it began as a look back at Staub. I had a conversation with Mota for background and he was as polite and congenial as his baseball card photos might indicate. After speaking with him, I created a database of the top 1800 batters in terms of pinch hitting appearances. I was amazed at Davey Johnson's SSS PH stats. Carreon also had nice numbers and spoke with him. Johnson has a new book out so a couple questions turned into a 30-minute discussion about hitting and just listening to his stories. I was impressed with Bevacqua's career PH vs career overall numbers and spoke with him. The headline is an actual quote. I also thought it was cool that Carreon & Davey held the exact same hitting philosophy, almost word-for-word.

Truth be told, my initial idea was to paint a picture of '80s after-hours Manhattan through the lens of Staub's teammates and late nights eating ribs in the restaurant after games. "Breakfast At Rusty's." Once I saw the pinch-hitting data, the evocative narrative went out the window and I focused on the numbers.
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 16, 2018 at 11:56 PM (#5673976)
Truth be told, my initial idea was to paint a picture of '80s after-hours Manhattan through the lens of Staub's teammates and late nights eating ribs in the restaurant after games. "Breakfast At Rusty's."
Please, please write this if you possibly can. I would love to read it.
   11. Batman Posted: May 17, 2018 at 01:43 AM (#5673987)
Yes, that’s the article I want to read.
   12. John DiFool2 Posted: May 17, 2018 at 08:30 AM (#5674007)
Ted Williams was well-known for recommending a “slight uppercut” at a time when the level swing was the received wisdom.


His rationale was to match the plane of the incoming pitch, maximizing the opportunity to make contact. If the plane of your swing is radically different than that of the pitch, your timing would need to be utterly impeccable to make effective contact. [not that Teddy's wasn't anyway]
   13. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: May 17, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5674252)
Ahhh ... Manny Mota sighting. One of my favorite players as a kid.


I liked his movie cameo.
   14. Tom T Posted: May 17, 2018 at 01:38 PM (#5674292)
His rationale was to match the plane of the incoming pitch, maximizing the opportunity to make contact. If the plane of your swing is radically different than that of the pitch, your timing would need to be utterly impeccable to make effective contact.


Exactly. My oldest son's natural swing does this, but from age 6-11, everyone was trying to "correct" his swing. We taught him to politely respond "there is more than one way to swing" and then to ignore every scrap of advice/instruction they gave him. Now everyone oohs and aahs about how he has this amazing "launch angle", and they ask me how long we had to work over the summers to learn to swing that way. Amazing the difference a few years can make.
   15. shoewizard Posted: May 17, 2018 at 09:04 PM (#5674681)
It's all nonsense. (Launch angle)

Fly ball percentage hasn't changed at all. The last 3 years HR/FB and Hard hit % are up, but thats cuz MLB juiced the damn ball.
   16. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 17, 2018 at 09:12 PM (#5674690)
Ted Williams was well-known for recommending a “slight uppercut” at a time when the level swing was the received wisdom.


His rationale was to match the plane of the incoming pitch, maximizing the opportunity to make contact. If the plane of your swing is radically different than that of the pitch, your timing would need to be utterly impeccable to make effective contact. [not that Teddy's wasn't anyway]

what he actually meant was that, gravity being what it is, the ball is traveling in a downward trajectory when it crosses the plate, so a slight uppercut would mean you're meeting it square

Ted Williams explains why you have to swing up at the ball
   17. perros Posted: May 17, 2018 at 09:27 PM (#5674696)
Great piece, dj. The funny thing is Davey knew all the stats, frontwards and backwards.
   18. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 17, 2018 at 10:10 PM (#5674725)
Ahhh ... Manny Mota sighting. One of my favorite players as a kid.

also named in the movie Airplane
   19. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 17, 2018 at 10:27 PM (#5674735)
Playing for the Dodgers primarily in a bench role from 1973 to 1979, Mota batted .312 in 652 plate appearances, as well as a .376 OBP.


Curious why he used 1979 as an endpoint, as Mota batted .429 in 1980. OK, it was only 7 AB, but toss in 1980 and it's .313 and .377.
   20. djordan Posted: May 17, 2018 at 11:14 PM (#5674756)
Manny had an offer to go to Japan and play, but the Dodgers asked him to stay on as a hitting/1st base coach. He didn't want to uproot his family and didn't want the risk of the Dodgers offer to be gone after playing overseas for a year or two.
   21. Count Vorror Rairol Mencoon (CoB) Posted: May 17, 2018 at 11:37 PM (#5674764)
I liked his movie cameo.


Surely you must be joking?
   22. Walt Davis Posted: May 18, 2018 at 01:32 AM (#5674800)
Fly ball percentage hasn't changed at all.

But GO/AO is at its lowest rate "ever." G/F, GO/AO

2018 78 103
2017 81 109
2016 83 111
2015 86 114
2014 84 110
2013 82 110
2012 84 112
2011 82 109
2010 80 108

2005 80 109
2000 68 106 (that's what it says)
1995 84 112
1990 80 103
1985 .. 109
1980 .. 111

2010, 2011, 2005, and 1990 make these last two years not look too outlier-ly and things might even out this year. But so far, lowest G/F and lowest GO/AO. But no, those aren't radical changes, something like 45.5% GB to 44% GB.

I know it sounds crazy, but it sure looks like GBs got re-defined for the 2000 season then put back to the old definition in 2002. Or a really freaky fluke. Number of GBs and BA on GBs:

                 
Year      PA   BA
1998   60225 .230
1999   59703 .237
2000   55321 .170
2001   55229 .176
2002   54914 .165
2003   61032 .239
2004   60227 .237
2005   60322 .234


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/18/2018.

My best guess is GBs were initially defined as anything that hit the ground before the OF grass then somebody got clever and decided that GBs had to hit the ground before the IF dirt then they went back to the earlier definition. You do see a big jump in the # of LDs (and baLD) for those 3 years before dropping in 2003 to even lower levels than 1998-99. LDs and FBs then seemed to get re-defined between 2012 and 2013, I suspect "fliners" became "liners", leading to a drop in BA for both. The number of LDs for 2013-17 is about 25-33% higher than for 2003-12 and baLD was between 718 and 739 for 2003-12 but hasn't been above 674 since. If memory serves though, if you add together FB and LD, thinks look pretty stable over that time period.

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