Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

MLB Hitters Explain Why They Can’t Just Beat The Shift

Or…won’t.

CC: Scott Boras

ESPN.com recently asked three lefty hitters who face varying percentages of shifts for their takes on the state of affairs. How do they try to attack defensive shifts, and do they think MLB can take any steps to address the problem—if there is, indeed, a problem?

Those hitters include Daniel Murphy, Kyle Seager, and Matt Carpenter.

Bote Man Posted: July 11, 2018 at 02:23 PM | 89 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hitting, shifts, strategy

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Tin Angel Posted: July 11, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5708485)
I liked Matt Carpenter's explanation best- "I think it gets blown out of proportion when people say, 'Just hit a ground ball to short.' You can't just take a 98 mph cutting fastball in on your hands and do that. Let's just say I sell out tonight, and I try it four times. The likelihood of me hitting four straight ground balls to short and ending up 4-for-4 are very slim. If I succeed once or maybe twice, at best I'm going to go 2-for-4 with two singles, where if I just play the game, I might go 2-for-4 with a homer and a double.""
   2. PreservedFish Posted: July 11, 2018 at 02:45 PM (#5708498)
There's also some bad reasoning in there though. The first two comments I looked at had justifications that said basically "if I double it only takes 1 hit to score me, if I single it probably takes 2."
   3. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: July 11, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5708510)
I thought most of the explanation was all generally on point. Although they may not have worded it well, I think the point the players made in #2 is generally a fair/correct one. They both said they're not base stealers. If they are on first base, it generally requires a clean extra base hit to score them, which don't happen very often, and they're usually the guys relied upon.

I thought Carpenter also had a good explanation of the success rate of bringing in a runner from 3rd with less than 2 outs isn't high. Just making clean contact against a lot of the pitchers today is difficult, let alone controlling which direction it goes.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 11, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5708512)
If I succeed once or maybe twice, at best I'm going to go 2-for-4 with two singles, where if I just play the game, I might go 2-for-4 with a homer and a double.

Wouldn't teams stop shifting pretty quickly against batters hitting .500 against them, even if all singles? And isn't the "Hit .500" strategy more likely to work against the shift than the "HR & Double" strategy?
   5. PreservedFish Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:05 PM (#5708519)
I thought most of the explanation was all generally on point. Although they may not have worded it well, I think the point the players made in #2 is generally a fair/correct one. They both said they're not base stealers. If they are on first base, it generally requires a clean extra base hit to score them, which don't happen very often, and they're usually the guys relied upon.


But it totally ignores the most important factor in baseball - whether or not you make an out. A .500/.500 OBP/SLG is more valuable than a .350/.500, even if the latter produces all the extra-base hits.
   6. Master of the Horse Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:15 PM (#5708531)
   7. Nasty Nate Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:18 PM (#5708539)
I found the player's explanations interesting. But they seem to have some bit of amnesia about scoring after only reaching first.
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5708570)
Let's just say I sell out tonight,
When did "sell out" start getting used all the time in sports to express committing fully to something? Seems like it's only been in the last couple years, but maybe I just didn't notice it before.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:33 PM (#5708581)
Daniel Murphy:

"The question everybody has to ask themselves is, 'Why are we playing the game? What is the goal of the game?' I think it's to score more runs than the other team. That seems to be what organizations are trying to do."

Lest it ever be said that players aren't insightful.
   10. Bote Man Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:55 PM (#5708628)
As hitters also can attest, teams routinely pitch to the shift. A pitcher is not going to throw soft stuff away to a left-handed hitter with the entire left side of the infield uninhabited.

This is patently false. Even Vin Scully pointed this out during a broadcast in his final year on the air. It astounds me that coaches or the manager instruct defenders to take up positions on the right side against tough LHB only to see the pitcher throw stuff low and away almost every pitch. It seems like a huge disconnect in the defensive tactics.

Also, it mentions Matt Adams getting his finger dinged trying to bunt; I suggest that maybe if he actually practiced bunting regularly, just in case, he might not have made the mistake of wrapping his fingers around the bat, something that Little League players know about.
   11. Rally Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:58 PM (#5708633)
Wouldn't teams stop shifting pretty quickly against batters hitting .500 against them, even if all singles? And isn't the "Hit .500" strategy more likely to work against the shift than the "HR & Double" strategy?


If he could hit .500 trying to go the other way against the shift, he should do that every time. Not only does it beat his OBP, it will usually beat his SLG (career .465). But he's saying "at best 2-4 with two singles". So it just depends on how often you think he could get a hit going the other way.

I'd put the break even about .350, give or take a bit by game situation. With the assumption that his walk rate is constant regardless of his approach. Needs to be a bit higher with 2 outs, a bit lower if he's leading off an inning.
   12. Rally Posted: July 11, 2018 at 04:02 PM (#5708640)
This is patently false. Even Vin Scully pointed this out during a broadcast in his final year on the air. It astounds me that coaches or the manager instruct defenders to take up positions on the right side against tough LHB only to see the pitcher throw stuff low and away almost every pitch. It seems like a huge disconnect in the defensive tactics.


The alternative is to pitch to the shift. If you do this predictably then you are giving the hitter a big advantage. Then he can beat the shift by hitting the ball to the fans.
   13. Bote Man Posted: July 11, 2018 at 04:14 PM (#5708659)
Is pitching away from a LHB likely to result in balls batted toward the shifted infielders? I would expect it to result in more balls to the left side of the diamond.

Also, if the hitter is a real masher, then there's less utility in the shift if he can hit it out or over their heads in the first place. Look at Juan Soto who has been spraying hits and home runs all over the place, especially to the left field power alley. The Shift would seem to be useful primarily against your average LHB, no?

Also also, reading the players' comments it seems that they value extra base hits over simply getting a single, when the question with The Shift is a single versus making an out. I guess I'm just a little irritated that these guys on the one hand say "We can't steer the ball", then on the other hand say "Why should I hit a little single when I can hit a double?" Well, ya big dummy if you could hit a double, then why don't you hit doubles all the time??!!
   14. Shredder Posted: July 11, 2018 at 06:09 PM (#5708771)
"We've had meetings and talked about this stuff. If you're facing David Ortiz, and he bunts over there and gets a single, he may have just done us a favor. If we let Ortiz beat us with a bunt as opposed to him hitting a homer, maybe that's OK.
This is entirely true. However:

David Ortiz: 286/380/552; 141 OPS+
Kyle Seager: 261/329/446; 116 OPS+

Seager's response is a good answer as to why David Ortiz should not bunt to beat the shift. It's not a good answer as to why Kyle Seager (or my example from the other day, Kole Calhoun) shouldn't bunt to beat the shift. If David Ortiz suddenly started bunting all the time, I'd have to really think about whether I'd keep the shift on. If Kyle Seager got really worked at it and got very proficient at bunting his way on base, I'd probably take my defense out of the shift for him. He's exactly the type of guy who could make himself more dangerous with the threat of a bunt.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: July 11, 2018 at 06:20 PM (#5708775)
If I succeed once or maybe twice, at best I'm going to go 2-for-4 with two singles, where if I just play the game, I might go 2-for-4 with a homer and a double."


And this is why hitters don't try to beat the shift. They actually think that dropping in a couple of singles in four trips means they won't have a chance to hit a couple of extra-base hits, regardless of how much more productive two singles in four trips is going to be than their typical output.
   16. Sunday silence Posted: July 11, 2018 at 06:38 PM (#5708788)

Wouldn't teams stop shifting pretty quickly against batters hitting .500 against them, even if all singles?


I think so yes, but the margins here are probably really tight. At .420 or .440 w/ no power whatsoever, the trade off might favor swinging away.


And its hard to say what his ba. would be if he bunted. I think the last time we did this analysis we found that Ichiro could easily bat .450 but .500 would be pushing it. This has to be less for slower runners but how much less?

Its got to be a really fine line here, where a .400 ba bunter isnt worth a slugger slugging .500
   17. Walt Davis Posted: July 11, 2018 at 06:59 PM (#5708797)
Is pitching away from a LHB likely to result in balls batted toward the shifted infielders? I would expect it to result in more balls to the left side of the diamond.

Nope. Dead pull hitters pull outside pitches. They may have the occasional one squib off the end of the bat to the left side but I'd bet most of what goes in that direction is actually inside stuff they are late on.

"Pitching to the shift" is a dumb idea. Give a pull hitter stuff on the inner half of the plate and you're giving the hitter exactly what he wants. And think about it -- you are shifting because the batter hits 90% of his GB to one side (or whatever) but that's based on a particular pattern of pitching to that batter. Change the pattern of pitching and who knows what you do to the distribution of the batter's hitting -- probably more in terms of generating more FBs and LDs rather than the batter going the other way more often but either way it becomes largely self-defeating. And if you had some way of pitching the guy such that you'd force him into hitting more GBs, you'd already be pitching him that way whether you shifted or not.

I certainly agree that any hitter facing constant shifting should develop sufficient skill at some counter-measure to deploy it on occasion. Schwarber just laid down a lovely bunt against the shift. (Unfortunately with 2 outs so of limited value ... he did have 2 strikes at the time, things didn't look good anyway.) The question isn't so much what rate of success they need going that way but how often do they need to go that way to get the shift taken off. There's no point re-tooling Shwarber into an opposite field singles hitter unless you're absolutely certain he can switch between the two modes instantaneously based on how he's defended. That seems unlikely.
   18. Sunday silence Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:03 PM (#5708825)
If he could hit .500 trying to go the other way against the shift...

I'd put the break even about .350, give or take a bit by game situation



I think he needs to hit much better than that to break even. Do it with a weighted runs analysis.

Lets say the guy bats .400 w/ all singles. that's 0.4 X .45 (wt value of a single) = 0.18 runs.

Lets say the guy slugs 0.500; that could be like one double every 4 AB, so 0.25 X 0.75 (weighted value of double) = 0.19 runs.

So its going to be close to break even w/ .400 singles hitter vs a .500 doubles hitter.

What about a .500 slugger with all HRs? thats a HR every 8 AB, so .124 X 1.44 = 0.18 about...

So I think .400 is somewhere close to break even. not every hitter could bunt that, but w/ decent or average speed? One has to think that's do able? But so what? Hes still at break even. He doesnt have to practice bunting and runnning hard if he can just keep the status quo.
   19. dave h Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:09 PM (#5708830)
Don't you need to account for all the extra outs the doubles/HR hitter makes?
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:10 PM (#5708832)
Lets say the guy slugs 0.500; that could be like one double every 4 AB, so 0.25 X 0.75 (weighted value of double) = 0.19 runs.


And that's a reason why a David Ortiz shouldn't adjust. But there aren't that many guys who slug .500.
   21. Sunday silence Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5708842)
If he could hit .500 trying to go the other way against the shift, he should do that every time. Not only does it beat his OBP, it will usually beat his SLG (career .465). But he's saying "at best 2-4 with two singles". So it just depends on how often you think he could get a hit going the other way.


Yeah I think at bat avg of .500 its certainly worth it.

But you cant compare .slug vs OBP as you do in this para. Its far more accurate to use weighted runs, rather than .slug or OPS or OPS+.

Question is how much do you have to slug to outweigh a .500 singles hitter? A. About .660

So if you can slug .660 bunting for base hits is probably not for you at all.

DIdnt Babe Ruth say something like this? I think its in Robt Creamer's book. He says something like "I could have batted .400 if I wanted to but I was paid to hit HRs."

Something like that, I forget what number he gave there, but it shows that people even back then were aware of the math involved even if they didnt know the exact weighted value of a HR. But he's more or less right. Ruth in his hey day is slugging what? about .650? Im guessing.

So he's basically correct, if he's slugging .650 he'd really have to be good at bunting to make it worth it.
   22. Sunday silence Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:21 PM (#5708844)
And that's a reason why a David Ortiz shouldn't adjust. But there aren't that many guys who slug .500.


Right, but how many guys are being shifted against? They arent shifting against avg sluggers are they?
   23. Rally Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:29 PM (#5708851)
In #18, you need to account for the outs.

I got .350 for Carpenter by seeing what he would need to match his career woba.

Ruth’s career SLG was .690, at his peak over .800. I can understand why he didn’t bunt. Babe actually had 113 career sac hits. I don’t think many were bunts, something like counting sac bunts and sac flies together.
   24. this is normal 57i66135. move on, find a new slant Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:41 PM (#5708854)
bunting isn't the answer.

hitters need to develop a 2nd swing and start chipping (or chopping) the ball away from the shift. unlike an overshift (which is generally on or off throughout an entire at bat), hitters would be able to switch between their regular swing and their shift swing the same way pitchers use fastballs and off-speed pitches, adding an element of game theory to use to their advantage.

when players have that kind of countermeasure, the usage of shifts should dramatically decline, especially when the pitcher already has a matchup advantage.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: July 11, 2018 at 08:55 PM (#5708861)
Right, but how many guys are being shifted against? They arent shifting against avg sluggers are they?


They're shifting against Kyle Seager and Daniel Murphy.
   26. Howie Menckel Posted: July 11, 2018 at 09:05 PM (#5708870)
I am a left-handed batter (once a year), and at the BBTF softball games in Central Park I sometimes go to the opposite field just to keep the defense honest.

now, the mph on the pitches goes to around 25 mph, so possibly that makes it easier to do.
then again, some of these guys play 150 games a year - not 2 - and they average about half my age.
so we'll call it even.
:)
   27. Baldrick Posted: July 11, 2018 at 09:15 PM (#5708875)
I think it's likely that players can (and probably should) make adjustments to capitalize on the open space that is being provided. But I'm surprised at how certain people seem to be that this is a relatively trivial thing, which would certainly work, and which would have few or no negative consequences.

Batters function on an incredibly precise timing system - much of which is closely tied to muscle memory and habit. Significantly changing the way you approach trying to hit the ball almost certainly will affect your overall timing. It may in fact be worth it, but it's not nothing. I can imagine a player not wanting to go through all that work, and put themselves at risk of a serious slump.

It would be great if there were a team out there willing to make a serious effort to attack the shift. Test out some of the game theory. See whether the internet commentariat is actually right about how easy it would be.
   28. homerwannabee Posted: July 11, 2018 at 09:30 PM (#5708881)
What hitters have the least amount of shifts? For instance, does Billy Hamilton have any shifts against when he bats, or does he have zero shifts?
   29. PreservedFish Posted: July 11, 2018 at 09:31 PM (#5708883)
Batters function on an incredibly precise timing system - much of which is closely tied to muscle memory and habit. Significantly changing the way you approach trying to hit the ball almost certainly will affect your overall timing. It may in fact be worth it, but it's not nothing. I can imagine a player not wanting to go through all that work, and put themselves at risk of a serious slump.


Oh come on. Players bunt all the time.
   30. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 11, 2018 at 09:37 PM (#5708886)
Oh come on. Players bunt all the time.


Kyle Schwarber bunted for a hit against the shift on a 1-2 count today.
   31. Shredder Posted: July 11, 2018 at 10:12 PM (#5708899)
They're shifting against Kyle Seager and Daniel Murphy.
And Kole Calhoun!! Though I'm not sure I'd call him a slugger. Or average (though he's been decent since he came back from injury with a new stance).
   32. Panic Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:00 AM (#5708954)
Hell, they shift on Alex Gordon and he's not average or a slugger.

It's just a numbers game. If you prove that you are pulling ball enough, most teams will shift. I have no idea what that threshold is - does anyone here know?
   33. Bote Man Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:03 AM (#5708956)
I can imagine a player not wanting to go through all that work, and put themselves at risk of a serious slump.

Speaking of slumps, a perfect case study: 2018 Bryce Harper. I don't have the know-how to conduct such research, but I'm betting that you would find that, once teams realized that they did NOT have to IBB Bryce and instead could just let him get himself out, they started shifting much more and he obliged by hitting into the shift as if his life depended on it.

What I do know: Harper's BABIP has dropped substantially, while his HR, K, and BB rates have remained about the same.
   34. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 06:12 AM (#5708963)
What I do know: Harper's BABIP has dropped substantially, while his HR, K, and BB rates have remained about the same.

Not true. His HR rate is about even with last year's, but he's leading the league in walks for the first time and already has more than he did last year. And his K rate is 173/162, which projects to by far the highest total of his career.

AFAIC hitters who are being hurt by the shift beyond the time frame of normal ups and downs have but three alternatives:

1. Be like Papi and overpower it. Nice work if you can get it.

2. Adjust and learn to go with the pitch like thousands of other players over the years have managed to do, and many still do today in spite of all the inherent difficulties that the players in the article mention.

3. Or piss and moan about it, keep hitting groundouts to second basemen positioned in short right field, watch your numbers continue to deteriorate, and hire Scott Boras as your civil rights lawyer.

Of course hitting's not easy, and as all these hitters in the article point out, it's harder than ever with every other pitcher throwing 95 or better and fresh arms coming in one after the other in the closing innings. But that's just the way it is, and complaining about it doesn't negate the hard truth of those three alternatives above. Nobody's going to change the rules to help hitters who can't or won't adapt to changing defensive positioning.

   35. Rally Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:08 AM (#5708980)
Speaking of slumps, a perfect case study: 2018 Bryce Harper. I don't have the know-how to conduct such research, but I'm betting that you would find that, once teams realized that they did NOT have to IBB Bryce and instead could just let him get himself out, they started shifting much more and he obliged by hitting into the shift as if his life depended on it.


We are several years into peak shift. I would be very surprised if teams were not shifting Harper most of the time last year when he hit over .300.
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:13 AM (#5708981)
Nobody's going to change the rules to help hitters who can't or won't adapt to changing defensive positioning.
Well, except for maybe Rob Manfred. He’s considering it.
   37. PreservedFish Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:16 AM (#5708982)
I'm not buying that Harper's low BABIP is due to the shift. It's almost certainly mostly bad luck. Some of it might be the shift. Some of it might be a change of approach. Right now he's at .225 ... if you look at the last decade, literally zero qualifying batters maintain a level that low. The worst (.235-.250) come in three flavors - the senescent (Andruw Jones and Ken Griffey, post-2008), the glacial (Rod Barajas, JP Arencibia), and the anemic (Paul Janish, John McDonald), or some combination thereof (Jason Giambi).

If you expand the search to the last century, you can find some hitters with worse BABIPs, but they tend to have names like Phil Niekro and Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry.

Rally's point in #35 is even stronger. It's not like they invented the shift in March.
   38. bunyon Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:29 AM (#5708989)
No one is suggesting a hitter take a 98 mph cutter in on the hands the other way. On the other hand, no one is hitting that ball for power anywhere.

Hitters have long been able to go the other way on pitches center of the plate and out. Bad hitters can do it. I could do it (when facing pitchers on my level). Taking pitches away from you the other way is not difficult if you are blessed with the hand-eye coordination of a major league hitter.

Today's hitters have been taught that their swing is a delicate flower likely to be destroyed if they don't hit their entire routine perfectly. Which is BS.


Also, no one is suggesting a guy cruising along with an 800 or 900 OPS needs to adjust. But for a lot of low average, medium power guys, free hits should be a very good thing. For Bryce Harper, mired in a slump, needing to get on base to prolong a rally when he is not the tying or winning run, it's an obvious strategy.

But they won't do it. It's much more mental than physical. They've convinced themselves it isn't possible.
   39. Rally Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:39 AM (#5708991)
Rally's point in #35 is even stronger. It's not like they invented the shift in March.


That was my intuition but might not fit the facts. Looked at baseball savant, which shows how often a player faced an infield shift, "strategic shift" - don't ask me what that means, or standard. I don't know how consistent the definitions are between years.

But Harper has seen more shifts this year. Last year the infield played standard defense on 63% of the pitches to him, this year only 34%. That can account for a portion of his lower average but not the bulk of it.

Last year on balls in play he hit .333 when they shifted, .392 when they didn't. This year he's at .186 with the shift, .296 standard. So he's down 100 points or more whether they shift or not. That's either bad luck or not hitting the ball as well.

Still seems weird for an agent to be using the shift explanation for his client's struggles. If the shift is turning him into a sub .250 BABIP player, then opposing teams certainly are not going to stop shifting. That's a pretty big negative to overcome as Boras negotiates Harper's next contract.
   40. Rally Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:41 AM (#5708992)
No one is suggesting a hitter take a 98 mph cutter in on the hands the other way. On the other hand, no one is hitting that ball for power anywhere.


Except Ohtani who hits that pitch over the center field wall.
   41. PreservedFish Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:55 AM (#5709000)
Last year on balls in play he hit .333 when they shifted, .392 when they didn't. This year he's at .186 with the shift, .296 standard. So he's down 100 points or more whether they shift or not. That's either bad luck or not hitting the ball as well.


Is a 60-100 point drop common? I bet it isn't. And I bet if you looked at the batted balls, the shift could only explain a portion of the drop.
   42. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 10:13 AM (#5709004)
Hitters have long been able to go the other way on pitches center of the plate and out. Bad hitters can do it. I could do it (when facing pitchers on my level). Taking pitches away from you the other way is not difficult if you are blessed with the hand-eye coordination of a major league hitter.

Exactly. The problem isn't that hitters are pulling inside pitches or pitches down the middle. The problem is that too many hitters are "rolling over" on outside pitches in a halfhearted attempt to pull them, and wind up hitting weak ground balls instead of going with the pitch and trying to drive it to the opposite field.

Also, no one is suggesting a guy cruising along with an 800 or 900 OPS needs to adjust. But for a lot of low average, medium power guys, free hits should be a very good thing.

Right again. It's the hitters who can reach the short porches 15 times a year who've convinced themselves that they're kissing cousins to the real power guys.

For Bryce Harper, mired in a slump, needing to get on base to prolong a rally when he is not the tying or winning run, it's an obvious strategy.

But they won't do it. It's much more mental than physical. They've convinced themselves it isn't possible.


Maybe Harper's so good that he can just power his way out of his slump, but meanwhile he sure isn't helping his team. His walks may goose up his OBP numbers into the range of respectability,** but when his teammates aren't driving him in, all those walks are resulting in are a lot of LOB. His RPG last year was .86, while this year it's .62.

** His home run rate is close to 2017, but his SA is down from .595 to .468, which is reflected in his drop in BA and doubles.
   43. bunyon Posted: July 12, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5709006)
I think Harper is separate from the shift. I mean, he is clearly good enough with a bat to go the other way, and with authority, when the entire side of the field is open. But he's also good enough that, when he's on, he can probably ignore the shift.

But this year, he was just bad for a very long stretch. I haven't seen a Nats game in over a week so don't know how he's going. But I saw a lot at the beginning of the year when he looked awesome. Then I saw a lot after that where he looked terrible. He looked like a completely different hitter. He struckout a lot, hit a lot of weak groundballs, popped up. Sure, BABIP will likely come back to normal. But it won't come back just because. It'll come back because he figures out how to hit again.
   44. Nasty Nate Posted: July 12, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5709010)
meanwhile he sure isn't helping his team. His walks may goose up his OBP numbers into the range of respectability,** but when his teammates aren't driving him in, all those walks are resulting in are a lot of LOB.
His walks are still helping the team. He's still scoring runs outside of his own HR.
   45. PreservedFish Posted: July 12, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5709011)
Maybe Harper's so good that he can just power his way out of his slump, but meanwhile he sure isn't helping his team. His walks may goose up his OBP numbers into the range of respectability,** but when his teammates aren't driving him in, all those walks are resulting in are a lot of LOB. His RPG last year was .86, while this year it's .62.


Right Andy, walks just clog up the bases. That runs per game couldn't have anything to do with the fact that every hitter behind him is having a worse year.
   46. bunyon Posted: July 12, 2018 at 10:38 AM (#5709012)
But his high BB total is, in large part, due to tons of IBB early in the year when he was both good and feared. He's neither right now.
   47. DL from MN Posted: July 12, 2018 at 10:51 AM (#5709017)
I might go 2-for-4 with a homer and a double.


Dude, you can't hit .500/.500/1.500 when they DON'T shift, take the singles.
   48. PreservedFish Posted: July 12, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5709019)
Like July, where he's hitting .170 but still walks more than once per game.

He's an elite hitter that's had both bad luck and a slump at the same time... big deal.
   49. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 11:02 AM (#5709022)
meanwhile he sure isn't helping his team. His walks may goose up his OBP numbers into the range of respectability,** but when his teammates aren't driving him in, all those walks are resulting in are a lot of LOB.

His walks are still helping the team. He's still scoring runs outside of his own HR.


But not nearly as many as he did before. While his walk rate is up, his OBP is down from .413 to .369, which reflects his plummeting BA and the decline in singles and doubles.

And how does a walk score a runner from second, or advance a runner from first to third?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Right Andy, walks just clog up the bases. That runs per game couldn't have anything to do with the fact that every hitter behind him is having a worse year.

Of course it does. What did I just write in the comment you're responding to?

But the sad truth is that for walks to have any real value, they are dependent on one's teammates, and when your teammates aren't driving you in, all you're left with is a fancy OBP and a lot of LOBs. And while your implication is formally true---Harper needs better teammates---Harper himself would be doing his team more good with fewer walks and more actual hitting. A low BA / high walk rate hitter is little more than a meaningless ornament unless he's on a team that can drive him in, which is to say that both his teammates and Harper are responsible for the Nats' low run production.
   50. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5709024)
He's an elite hitter that's had both bad luck and a slump at the same time... big deal.

If Harper's still an elite hitter, he's got 70 games left to prove it to his potential offseason suitors. Some hitters make the necessary adjustments, and some hitters don't.
   51. Nasty Nate Posted: July 12, 2018 at 11:10 AM (#5709026)
But the sad truth is that for walks to have any real value, they are dependent on one's teammates, and when your teammates aren't driving you in, all you're left with is a fancy OBP and a lot of LOBs. And while your implication is formally true---Harper needs better teammates---Harper himself would be doing his team more good with fewer walks and more actual hitting. A low BA / high walk rate hitter is little more than a meaningless ornament unless he's on a team that can drive him in, which is to say that both his teammates and Harper are responsible for the Nats' low run production.
What point are you even making? We all know how baseball works and that walks, singles, doubles, triples don't score runs without your teammates doing something. So what? Obviously, the more times someone walks, singles, doubles, or triples, the more chances his teammates have to compliment those actions.
   52. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 12, 2018 at 11:17 AM (#5709029)
What I find fascinating is the self-fulfilling aspect of it all. The player quotes about singles not being valuable, etc.

Players know that batting averages are bottoming out, so they think a measly little single isn't worth much value, they need an EBH. So, the players start tailoring their game to ignore average (even more than they were already doing), and collective league averages continue to go down down down.

How low can league batting average go?
   53. Rally Posted: July 12, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5709034)
But his high BB total is, in large part, due to tons of IBB early in the year when he was both good and feared. He's neither right now.


38 walks in March/April, 29 games.

Since then? 40 walks in 62 games.
   54. PreservedFish Posted: July 12, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5709035)
What point are you even making? We all know how baseball works and that walks, singles, doubles, triples don't score runs without your teammates doing something. So what? Obviously, the more times someone walks, singles, doubles, or triples, the more chances his teammates have to compliment those actions.


Right, this was what I was getting at.
   55. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 11:38 AM (#5709040)
But the sad truth is that for walks to have any real value, they are dependent on one's teammates, and when your teammates aren't driving you in, all you're left with is a fancy OBP and a lot of LOBs. And while your implication is formally true---Harper needs better teammates---Harper himself would be doing his team more good with fewer walks and more actual hitting. A low BA / high walk rate hitter is little more than a meaningless ornament unless he's on a team that can drive him in, which is to say that both his teammates and Harper are responsible for the Nats' low run production.

What point are you even making? We all know how baseball works and that walks, singles, doubles, triples don't score runs without your teammates doing something. So what? Obviously, the more times someone walks, singles, doubles, or triples, the more chances his teammates have to compliment those actions.


Here's the point: Players whose OBP is disproportionately made up of walks are significantly less valuable than those whose OBP is made up of hits, even singles. You need 3 walks to score a runner from 2nd or 3rd, whereas it usually takes but one single to drive him in.

And with that in mind, Harper's current value is well reflected in his WAR.
   56. PreservedFish Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:02 PM (#5709043)
Here's the point: Players whose OBP is disproportionately made up of walks are significantly less valuable than those whose OBP is made up of hits, even singles. You need 3 walks to score a runner from 2nd or 3rd, whereas it usually takes but one single to drive him in.

Everyone knows this. And better stats than OBP and OPS account for this. It seems like you think you're making an insightful and novel observation.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5709045)
Here's the point: Players whose OBP is disproportionately made up of walks are significantly less valuable than those whose OBP is made up of hits, even singles. You need 3 walks to score a runner from 2nd or 3rd, whereas it usually takes but one single to drive him in.

And with that in mind, Harper's current value is well reflected in his WAR.


Per PF, his wRC+ reflects this. It's a t 120, with an unsustainably low BABIP. There's no extra demerit for the BBs.

If you can sign Bryce Harper to a long term contract that values him as a 3-4 win player, you're going to get a tremendous bargain.

   58. DavidFoss Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:06 PM (#5709047)
better stats than OBP and OPS account for this.

WAR uses wRAA which is linear weights. 1B/uBB = 1.29. As I understand it IBB's are removed during the rate calculation but added back for playing time. This is to avoid giving bonuses to NL #8 hitters.
   59. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:25 PM (#5709058)
If you can sign Bryce Harper to a long term contract that values him as a 3-4 win player, you're going to get a tremendous bargain.

Probably so, but the question is whether that'll be acceptable to either Harper or Boras. You can quote all the wRC+ and other advanced metrics you want, but the bottom line will be Harper's true market value, not what you or PF think it should be, or what Boras sees as his birthright.

Let's put it this way: Right now Harper's market value isn't nearly what Boras likes to pretend it is, and unless he steps it up for the rest of the season, they'll be better off punting until the end of 2019. They're not going to be able to bluff their way to a Boras wet dream contract with the numbers he's put up so far this year.
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:30 PM (#5709062)
Probably so, but the question is whether that'll be acceptable to either Harper or Boras. You can quote all the wRC+ and other advanced metrics you want, but the bottom line will be Harper's true market value, not what you or PF think it should be, or what Boras sees as his birthright.

Let's put it this way: Right now Harper's market value isn't nearly what Boras likes to pretend it is, and unless he steps it up for the rest of the season, they'll be better off punting until the end of 2019. They're not going to be able to bluff their way to a Boras wet dream contract with the numbers he's put up so far this year.


If the Yankees could sign him for 10/250, I'd take that right now. Harper's still getting a huge deal.
   61. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5709067)
If the Yankees could sign him for 10/250, I'd take that right now. Harper's still getting a huge deal.

But Boras would see that as an insult, so your hypothetical remains just that.
   62. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:47 PM (#5709069)
But Boras would see that as an insult, so your hypothetical remains just that.

Do you really think Boras believes his own puffery?

And why are you taking so much glee in the fact that Harper is under performing?
   63. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 12:58 PM (#5709076)
But Boras would see that as an insult, so your hypothetical remains just that.

Do you really think Boras believes his own puffery?


Who knows and who cares? But all he's doing now is setting up him and his client for a rude awakening.

And why are you taking so much glee in the fact that Harper is under performing?

Wait, I thought he was just unlucky, not underperforming.

But there's no glee there. I hope that Harper bounces back, grows a beard that extends to his toes in celebration, and then gets the biggest contract in the world----from the Nats. And then goes on to put up Ruthian numbers while the Nats lose 10 straight World Series.

(Sorry, I just don't like the National League. Chalk it up to childhood trauma dating back to the days of NL dominance.)
   64. Nasty Nate Posted: July 12, 2018 at 01:04 PM (#5709079)
Who knows and who cares? But all he's doing now is setting up him and his client for a rude awakening.
He's not that naive. We've seen it time and time again that he leaks or otherwise publicizes a giant amount of guaranteed money and then the contract ends up being less than that. Hosmer and JD Martinez are recent examples. It's all part of the process and I doubt he ever promises his client the huge initial number.
   65. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: July 12, 2018 at 01:21 PM (#5709089)
Okay, I have kind of a personal theory about the psychology behind this, to wit:

These are guys who grew up watching sillyball, and the lefties idolized Bonds, Thome, and other LHB sluggers who could hit even outside pitches 50 miles to right-center. They also grew up, probably every single one of them, as the best hitter anybody they knew had ever met (unless, like Seager, your younger brother is better than you, but the point stands -- he was the best hitter at every level he played at until at least college, I suspect). It makes sense, when you're the only 14-year-old who can hit a ball out of the American Legion park on the fly, to hit to pull, just like Jim Thome or whatever hulking slugger you grew up watching. And it works. It works in high school, it works on your travel team, it works in college. You're a big star, every step of the way. And -- I think this is important -- it continues to work once you reach the bigs, at least for a while. Maybe you're not Jim Thome, but you're Kyle Seager and your team gives you a $100M contract, which is pretty good evidence that the way you play baseball is the right way to go about it.

And then this shifting thing happens, and your inability to beat it goes against every single lesson you've ever learned at the plate. It's always been, "Uppercut, sell out to pull, don't swing at anything on the outer half of the plate, and you'll be a star." And now your doubles are dying in the power alleys and your singles are dying in the glove of an out-of-position third baseman, and someone says to you, "Hey, take that cutter on the outer half to left field, dummy!" And two things happen:

(1) Your ego kicks in. You are incredibly good at baseball. It has made you rich. Your whole life, your whole identity, is built around how incredibly good at baseball you've been since you were a kid. Someone, especially some journalist or stat nerd from the front office, criticizing the way you hit is an attack on who you are. This is not entirely unlike the Trump voter who's getting personally screwed by tariffs and doubles down on how much they love him anyway. There's no ####### way you're going to change the way you hit. It's too important. You're better than that.

(2) The lessons you've learned over the last 25 years of playing baseball like a god kick in, too. This is what works. Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in American sports and you've figured out how to do it better than all but 50 or 60 guys on the planet, and the idea that you might change it feels incredibly risky -- far riskier than it really is. It doesn't matter how coordinated and strong you are, you have no experience of trying to hit like Rod Carew and trying now could be a complete disaster. Even if it probably won't be, there's like that 10% chance that trying to go the other way with consistency completely screws up the stuff you already do well, and then you can't figure out how to poke the ball to left, either, and now you're just an overpaid bench bat who's getting booed 81 nights a year because he's taking goose-eggs at the plate on a regular basis. And the vast majority of people are not going to take that risk, no matter how much the math tells you that you ought to.
   66. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 01:57 PM (#5709105)
Who knows and who cares? But all he's doing now is setting up him and his client for a rude awakening.

He's not that naive. We've seen it time and time again that he leaks or otherwise publicizes a giant amount of guaranteed money and then the contract ends up being less than that. Hosmer and JD Martinez are recent examples. It's all part of the process and I doubt he ever promises his client the huge initial number.


I understand Negotiating 101, but usually there's some connection between the size of the bullfrog's chest and the bullfrog's productivity in his contract season. And when Boras is reduced to inanities like shift "discrimination", it's hard not to see that chest as being filled with little more than hot air. Harper's a fine player, but he's not Mike Trout or even close to it. I can think of plenty of other young players I'd rather throw Really Big Money at, if they were currently eligible for free agency.
   67. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: July 12, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5709131)
Harper's a fine player, but he's not Mike Trout or even close to it.


"Not Mike Trout or even close to it" describes 99.99% of the people to ever play professional baseball. In today's game, some of these people that aren't as good as Mike Trout even get nine figure contracts.
   68. Zonk did it for the children of Russia Posted: July 12, 2018 at 02:58 PM (#5709147)
Why is it so difficult to gain a modicum of proficiency pushing an occasional bunt? I mean, bunting is pretty easy. It's harder to do well against a normal IF or a situation where the IF is playing for the bunt, but when the entire left side of the IF is vacant and all you've really got to do is push far enough that a pitcher can field it?

Come on... I think it's pretty derelict criminal that more lefties who get heavy-shifted haven't spent more time just learning to drop the occasional bunt.

   69. SandyRiver Posted: July 12, 2018 at 03:48 PM (#5709177)
Harper's 12.3 AB per HR is a career best, a tenth better than his big year, though that's April/May (10.7) not June/July (about one-in-30.) The reduced production may be tied to line drives. His LD% of BABIP is about 13% lower than his career mark (shifted to flies, as GB% is the same.) Even worse, his BA on line drives is a mere .509, while most good hitters get around .700 - Harper's career mark is .678, so pre-2018 he's around there as well.
Reminds me a bit of David Ortiz' 1st half in 2015 - BABIP way under career mark and BA on LDs nearly .200 short of usual, though his LD% was about on par. We know what happened between then and Papi's retirement.
   70. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 03:59 PM (#5709187)
I'm not buying that Harper's low BABIP is due to the shift. ... if you look at the last decade, literally zero qualifying batters maintain a level that low. The worst (.235-.250) come in three flavors - the senescent (Andruw Jones and Ken Griffey, post-2008), the glacial (Rod Barajas, JP Arencibia), and the anemic (Paul Janish, John McDonald), or some combination thereof (Jason Giambi).


what does this even mean? Are these different categories merely on one continuum? Or are these fundamentally different things going on? your use of "flavors" suggests to me that there is some qualititative difference but I dunno maybe you are talking just different babip rates...No idea.


If you expand the search to the last century, you can find some hitters with worse BABIPs, but they tend to have names like Phil Niekro and Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry.


Which simply underscores the fact that PERIPHERAL stats are barely ever useful. Because when things are going correctly according to what we understand, the peripherals are neat but they dont really provide any insight, cause we already know that X is a .250 hitter, he's no getting lucky etc.

But as soon as you find extreme cases, there's no telling if peripherals mean anything at all. For instance if I was to face MLB pitching my BABIP might be 0.01. Does that mean Im just unlucky or really suck?

At Harpers level of extreme bad BaBIP one would think he's unlucky but ther's no real way to know. He could be hurt etc


   71. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:09 PM (#5709194)
Right now Harper's market value isn't nearly what Boras likes to pretend it is, and unless he steps it up for the rest of the season, they'll be better off punting until the end of 2019.


I totally disagree with the notion that Harper needs to punt if his bat doesnt return by the end of the year. Several other people have made this comment both here and in other forums.

As a rational thinking person you cannot just take a one year deal and hope to hit the jackpot in 2019.

You risk getting hurt or otherwise permanently diminished in ability so that you cant get that payday that will set you up for life

If you have a 100% chance of being set for life now, OR

Have an 80% chance of being set for life, and say $15M more, but you risk 20% you never hit that payday?

TO me the answer is simple: you set yourself for life, NOW GUARANTEED.

Im not sure why you and the rest dont see this.
   72. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:18 PM (#5709200)
If you can sign Bryce Harper to a long term contract that values him as a 3-4 win player, you're going to get a tremendous bargain.


So you're suggesting what 10 years at $320M? 4 WAR x 8M per WAR.

I dunno that still seems too high for me. As i suggested a few weeks ago, most normal teams only have a 3 or 4 year window. You get a good player for sure but you may also create a 3 or 4 year albatross situation that limits your abiilty to go to the playoffs.

BUt even these numbers dont make much sense. Stanton got what $300M for ten years? A few years ago that contract was signed. Management seems to get a discount for these types of contracts. So what your suggesting seems quite in line with what even ELITE functioning ball players should get.

ten years 320 seems to high for Harper, even for good Harper.

It seems like 250 for ten would be good for both sides. which maybe that is what you are suggesting. Im not sure which team is likely to pay this. BOS? LAD?
   73. Nasty Nate Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:18 PM (#5709201)

I totally disagree with the notion that Harper needs to punt if his bat doesnt return by the end of the year. Several other people have made this comment both here and in other forums.

As a rational thinking person you cannot just take a one year deal and hope to hit the jackpot in 2019.
I generally agree. But I think that if his bat doesn't return, he'll sign a big contract to get set for life, but also get an opt-out in the first half of the deal so he still will get a chance at the BIG jackpot.
   74. Nasty Nate Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:20 PM (#5709203)
If you can sign Bryce Harper to a long term contract that values him as a 3-4 win player, you're going to get a tremendous bargain.

So you're suggesting what 10 years at $320M? 4 WAR x 8M per WAR.
I don't think that's what he means. I think he was saying a contract that values him as a 3-4 win player right now, not for the next 10 years.
   75. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:26 PM (#5709206)

Is a 60-100 point drop [in response to shif] common? I bet it isn't.


No its not common at all.

We had this discussion last year with Walt doing a lot of the water carrying.

As I recall, the shift hardly changed ba at all. It did seem to have an impact on .slug however. Which may stand to reason as you have the RF hugging the foul line in the case of a shift.
   76. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:32 PM (#5709210)
You know the one thing I dont get is why dont the writers ask some of the really elite hitters of the past about this issue.

There's Carew, there's Boggs, who else? Werent these guys known as guys who could go the other way? Why doesnt anyone ask them what is going on here?
   77. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:52 PM (#5709217)
Harper's a fine player, but he's not Mike Trout or even close to it.

"Not Mike Trout or even close to it" describes 99.99% of the people to ever play professional baseball. In today's game, some of these people that aren't as good as Mike Trout even get nine figure contracts.


Yes, but those nine figure contracts aren't the same sort of nine figure contracts that Mike Trout would be getting if he were a free agent today, but Boras seems to think that that sort of contract is what Harper deserves.

Again, if you were to assume that all young and prime (28 and under) players today were to enter the free agent market, how high do you think Harper would rank? Given his injury history, his up-and-down performance, his current productivity, his mediocre defense, and his positional disadvantage, there are at least half a dozen players he'd fall behind. That's not a knock on Harper, but it does put his value into a bit of perspective. When I say "he's not Mike Trout", he's also (just to name a few) not Mookie Betts or Aaron Judge or Luis Severino or Jose Altuve or Manny Machado. And although he's not yet established a long track record, I'd personally much prefer Andrew Benintendi, who seems to be improving by the hour and has peripheral skills (like base stealing) that Harper can't approach.
   78. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 05:40 PM (#5709228)
In #18, you need to account for the outs.

I got .350 for Carpenter by seeing what he would need to match his career woba.


There's something seems wrong with the numbers we are coming up with. If I understand youre saying that if Carpenter could bunt .350 he'd better his off production in his career. .276/.377/.465 120 OPS+ a good hitter above avg in both power and OBP.

If we use the formula here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WOBA

where single: 0.9; a double 1.25; HR: 2.1 wt'd runs; then indeed as you say you could bunt .350 and you'd get about .315 weighted runs per AB (I think that's the term). Which I think is good.

But if you were slugging .500 and assuming its equal amounts of doubles and HRs, then you'd get a wt runs/AB of 0.26

And if you were slugging .600 (equal HR and Doubles) then you'd get runs/ab of 0.32.

Something doesnt seem right here. I cant imagine a .600 slugger is about the same as .350 singles hitter.

Well OK our hypo slugger is: .200/.200/.600 and our hypo .350 bunter is:

.350/.350/.350

Maybe i am missing something or maybe thats correct.
   79. DCA Posted: July 12, 2018 at 06:18 PM (#5709242)
Re: #78. At first glance, 200/200/600 = 350/350/350 seems very reasonable.
   80. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 07:29 PM (#5709280)
HERE IS THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM WITH YOUR MATH....

OK much as it pains me to say it but you internet people sitting in your mother's basement are wrong and MLB players have it right.

FIRST some preliminaries. I was using Runs Created method that values hits as follows: BB: 0.3 single .45 double .75 HR 1.4 Others were using WOBA (wins and/or runs above average). when you use WOBA you need to use negative numbers because obviously you're talking about something vs the average MLB player, you need negative numbers for hitters are below average. Hence an out is like -0.23 and single is like 0.7 etc.

ITS THE VERY SAME THING EITHER WAY. I will use Runs Created from here on out so outs=0. We are talking creating runs out of thin air. If you strike out, you created zero runs. Etc


So:


Don't you need to account for all the extra outs the doubles/HR hitter makes?


No, you dont. Just shut the hell up. you can ask anything you want after Im finished...

TL,DR

OK here's the tl,dr: singles are valued at 0.45 runs in a Runs Created system. That's because singles move people up the bases sometimes 2 bases...BUNTING For A BASE HIT IS NEVER GOING TO MOVE UP A RUNNER TWO BASES.

Right? A walk is valued at 0.3 (runs created) because the runner gets on and moves up anyone who is forced up. A single is 0.45 runs because about the half the time at least one runner is on base and sometimes he moves up one base and sometimes two bases. if you do the math, moving up one base is 0.25 and two is 0.5 average is 0.37, but more often one base so 0.3 and half the time no one is on so multiply by 0.5 and you get 0.15...

So 0.3 + 0.15 = runs created for a single.

Someone bunting is not going to score anyone from second.

Q: would a runner move up from second to third on a bunt base hit? I dont know but Im gonna assume yes since its an extreme shift.OK. Mind you: if the defense KNOWS YOU ARE GOING TO BUNT they might just play a man over there so you cant move the guy up from second. In which case your actual value of a bunt single is 0.3 NOT 0.37.

But OK Im in a good mood, I'm going to humor you all and pretend you can move the guy from second over to third on a bunt...maybe you can who knows?

so whats the Runs creatd value of a bunt base hit?

0.37 runs; using the above reasoning about runners on and moving up.

OK so now lets do the math using RUns Created (and no I DONT NEED TO USE NEGATIVE NUMBERS).

Hypothetical bunter lets say he bunts .500 (this is Ichiro on a good day mind you, but Ok lets pretend)

Here's his runs created per 10 AB: 5 bunts x 0.37 = 1.85 runs or

0.18 (or .19) runs PER AB

hypothetical .500 slugger using equal amounts HR and Doubles, say 1 double 1 HR in 12 AB, that's slug .500

Runs created: 1.4 + 0.75 = 2.15 in 12 AB, divide by 12 =

0.18 runs PER AB.

So its dead even. My .500 slug is = to your .500 bunter, or more exactly

My slugger .167/.167/.600

your bunter .500/.500/.500

So "no" Rally, the break even point is not .350 bunting. lets do the math on that one.

.350 X 0.37 = .13 runs


You're .350 bunter is producing 27-28% less runs than my .500 slugger (who doesnt walk). Right? So that's a joke, if you can only bunt .350 that's like someone batting


.290/,290/.290; so that's a joke. No there's no pt in bunting .350 unless your worse than Frank Taveras or someone....

BUT WAIT THERE"S MORE

Nobody really bats .167/.167/.600 OK? Does anyone dispute that?

There's walks. Nobody is going to walk a guy whos bunting. Why, well for one thing we've just showed that there's no reason to fear the bunt and pitch away from him, just make him hit it there's no reason not to..

Q What if Rick Ankiel is on the mound? Maybe then?

A. No, no one is going to pitch Rick Ankiel to face a bunting for a base Matt Carpenter, you just put in a position player and tell him to throw strikes. I'm sure even Jason Werth could just lob a strike over the plate.

So lets give our hypothetical slugger one walk in 12 AB, that's sort of realistic. His final batting still isnt realistic but OK here goes.

My mythical .500 slugger is: .200/.231(ish)/.500. That's like I dunno, Leo Gomez on a bad day?

His runs created is 2.45 in 12 AB or

0.2 runs per AB

versus your .500 bunter who's 0.18 runs per AB

or your insane/stupid .350 bunter whos really 0.13 runs per AB

Right? So Leo Gomez on a bad day is still better than your .500 bunter. And Frank Taveras is still better than your .350 bunter.


Ok? There's the challenge challenge gentlemen I say you're all full of sh!t.

Go ahead prove me wrong.

PS: Im sure as hell no one is going to let you bunt the guy home from third so its obvious the Runs created value of a bunt is less than 0.37
   81. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 08:31 PM (#5709315)
EDIT: I guess w/ Runs Created and/or weighted runs you are still supposed to subtract for AB - hits, which I am not sure why. But anyhow that doesnt change the main pt. that if you use WOBA or Runs Created an infield single on a bunt does not create the same number of runs as a normal single.
   82. Sunday silence Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:24 PM (#5709335)
so it looks like with that method your .500 bunter is a smidge above average at about

0.05 runs/ab above avg.

The weird .500 slugger w/ no walks is about average.

the .350 bunter is far below average about .06 runs/ab below.
   83. Bote Man Posted: July 13, 2018 at 12:05 AM (#5709387)
Just some anecdotal remarks from Tim Salmon during a Mike Trout PA, via the Mariners radio broadcast tonight, paraphrased:

Talking about pull hitters, Salmon credits Joe Maddon when he was a coach with the Angels with teaching him an "A" swing and a "B" swing. A swing: let her rip, like using the driver on a golf course. B swing is to cut down your swing a little bit, choke up, "go for contact, hit the ball up the middle, or drive the ball the other way."

The strike zone has really shrunk on the inside and outside edges over the years. Back then, I could pull the pitches on the outside corner, but we were forced to hit the ball the other way on those pitches 2-3 inches outside and the only way to hit those was to hit them the other way. We would scout umpires as well as pitchers to see if they were getting/calling that outside pitch for a strike.

---

I'm not sure Salmon is correct about the narrowing of the strike zone. I thought the strike zone has been inching lower and lower, which has resulted in a number of changes by both pitchers and hitters that are now generating these complaints that "baseball is broken". Just more fodder for the discussion.
   84. Tin Angel Posted: July 13, 2018 at 02:23 AM (#5709403)
Talking about pull hitters, Salmon credits Joe Maddon when he was a coach with the Angels with teaching him an "A" swing and a "B" swing. A swing: let her rip, like using the driver on a golf course. B swing is to cut down your swing a little bit, choke up, "go for contact, hit the ball up the middle, or drive the ball the other way."


So...Maddon was teaching the things my little league coach told me when I was 9 in the 80's? Dude's a genius.
   85. Rally Posted: July 13, 2018 at 09:34 AM (#5709419)
Runs created per AB is meaningless because teams don't get equal PA or AB. If you don't account for outs then you can't possibly get the right answer. Good point though that the bunt single needs a lower LW value than a standard single.

So...Maddon was teaching the things my little league coach told me when I was 9 in the 80's? Dude's a genius.


It's all in the Science of Hitting.
   86. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 13, 2018 at 10:42 AM (#5709435)
Wouldn't a more accurate headline be "Hitters Explain Why They Won't Try To Beat The Shift"?
   87. gehrig97 Posted: July 13, 2018 at 07:36 PM (#5709702)
I really enjoyed this piece. These guys are thoughtful about their craft.
   88. homerwannabee Posted: July 13, 2018 at 08:40 PM (#5709722)
Prediction: Harper will get a big fat payday, but it'll be with a team he wouldn't normally go to.
I predict he signs with the Marlins. Jeter is stupid enough to give him that money. Some will say, but he traded out all his good players. True, but I believe he did that mainly because, "they weren't his guys."
   89. Sunday silence Posted: July 13, 2018 at 09:30 PM (#5709737)

Runs created per AB is meaningless because teams don't get equal PA or AB. If you don't account for outs then you can't possibly get the right answer. Good point though that the bunt single needs a lower LW value than a standard single.


Yeah, you're right. Another site (fangraphs? not sure I looked at a bunch) had diminished the linear wt. of an infield single by .06, but I think those would include balls that are hit to infielders and maybe get knocked down etc. Some of those might actually plate the runner from third.

Another thing we should look at is how they shift with runners on 2nd and or 3rd. I cant imagine the 3b is playing near 2b with a runner on third; otherwise the runner could take his lead halfway to home plate. With a runner on second, I guess he easily gets to third on the bunt since no one sees to be covering third. Is this how teams shift w/ a runner on 2b or does the 3b man play a little more toward the bag at third?


There's no reason to think that hitters are stupid or that there is some pyschological issue at work here. Even if baseball players cant articulate the math, surely those bean counters in the front office have done the math and have told the manager what the proper strategy is here. There are too many counter factual incidents to think this is not a deliberate choice. for instance:

Why didnt Ichiro do this more often? the last time this came up I think a reasonable est. for his bunting ability was .450+. If doing that would pay off more than him hitting away, why not do it?

why are they shifting and daring them to bunt even against above average hitters such as those mentioned above? Why would most/many teams be doing this? Surely they cant all have done the math wrong.

Why isnt every hitter bunting if would pay off? Etc. etc.

Thanks for reading my lengthy post; should have put a little more time into the research...

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
phredbird
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogASG All-Star Week Thread
(68 - 7:04pm, Jul 17)
Last: Bote Man

NewsblogOTP 2018 July 16: Why Does President Trump Balk At Attending Baseball Games?
(521 - 7:00pm, Jul 17)
Last: Jess Franco

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-17-2018
(4 - 6:57pm, Jul 17)
Last: Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com

NewsblogTexas Rangers: 'When that happens, I’m going to be nasty again': Why Rangers' Joey Gallo says banning shifts would get him back on track | SportsDay
(13 - 6:56pm, Jul 17)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogWhy the Cubs and Yankees Should Swap Tyler Chatwood and Sonny Gray
(32 - 6:54pm, Jul 17)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogOT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (let's call it July 2018)
(558 - 6:49pm, Jul 17)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogPhillies Reportedly Increase Offer For Manny Machado
(81 - 6:34pm, Jul 17)
Last: Zonk did it for the children of Russia

NewsblogJ.D. Martinez open to making more permanent relationship with Red Sox | WEEI
(5 - 6:18pm, Jul 17)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogOrioles have deal in place for Manny Machado, working through trade specifics
(4 - 6:17pm, Jul 17)
Last: Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle

NewsblogOT - 2018 NBA Summer Potpourri (finals, draft, free agency, Colangelo dragging)
(3301 - 5:48pm, Jul 17)
Last: Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington

NewsblogMax Scherzer doesn’t fear hitters or swimming with sharks
(17 - 5:33pm, Jul 17)
Last: Khrushin it bro

NewsblogIs Chase Utley a Hall of Famer?
(35 - 4:48pm, Jul 17)
Last: Sweatpants

NewsblogA rival’s struggles may make it even tougher for Mets fans
(10 - 4:16pm, Jul 17)
Last: Jose Bautista Bobblehead Day

NewsblogOT: Soccer Thread (World Cup)
(3201 - 12:56pm, Jul 17)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogProspect Carter Kieboom’s talent might force Nationals into some difficult decisions
(24 - 12:02pm, Jul 17)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

Page rendered in 0.6866 seconds
46 querie(s) executed