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Thursday, May 05, 2022

The Athletic: Swinging less could be the answer to MLB’s offensive woes. But is it bad for the sport?

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Very few hitters in the history of baseball have a positive run value on swings. Hall of Famers did good things; everyone else was a net negative for their team when they swung.

“Hitters should not swing,” said Kyle Boddy, proprietor of Driveline Baseball, an independent player development lab in Washington. His analysts even looked at the value of swinging at more strikes… and found it was negatively correlated with outcomes.

The best hitters and teams swing less. Just look at the teams that have swung the least at pitches outside the zone. They are quality offenses: the Dodgers, the Padres, the Yankees, the Giants and the underrated Athletics of the last few years are all over this key stat, making it a new “Moneyball,” if you will.

“I think the ‘Moneyball’ part of it, it was almost an eye-opening movie to people,” says Yankee slugger Joey Gallo, who is struggling right now but also swinging more than he ever has before in his career, during which he’s been one of the more patient hitters in baseball. “Just get on ####### base. I don’t hit for a high average, I wish I did, but I know I can get on base, I can walk, I can contribute that way.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 05, 2022 at 10:12 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: plate discipline

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: May 05, 2022 at 06:31 PM (#6075421)
Hitting made simple:

#1: Unless you are Vlad Guerrero Sr, never swing at a pitch outside the zone ... and he probably shouldn't have either. This will be even more important when robo-umps arrive.

#2: Unless you are young Frank Thomas HoF, only swing at meatballs in the zone, at least until you have two strikes. Note, for young Frank Thomas HoF, it wasn't so much that he swung at non-meatballs as it was that the whole zone seemed to be meatball zone.

#3: And whatever you do, don't ground into a DP. We will be less upset if you are prime Albert Pujols.

Let the Baseball Gods of Randomness sort out the rest.

Thus Sprach Ted Williams.

Alas, for #1, I'm not sure there are any hitters who intentionally swing at pitches outside the zone. OK, Barry Bonds' bat was quick enough he could feast on stuff an inch inside. Maybe there's an occasional hitter who expands his zone with men on base although I'm not sure such hitters ever actually existed. Mainly it's just guys who get fooled or who have to start their swing so early their brains haven't processed the pitch yet.**

Alas, for #2, hitters who aren't that good at assessing whether the pitch is in/out of the zone probably also aren't that good at assessing where they are in the zone. Oh well.

** Admittedly, I'm confused by the Buckner, Beckert, Randall Simon types. They are clearly swinging at stuff outside the zone often but making contact with it. So their brain knows soon enough where the pitch is going for them to make contact but not soon enough to prevent swinging? Or were they really that focused on not striking out that they considered easy GBs and pop-ups a success?
   2. Ron J Posted: May 06, 2022 at 02:11 PM (#6075547)
Beckert was employed specifically as a bat control guy. Productive outs and all that stuff.

He could put hit bat on anything in the same time zone so they used him a lot for hit and run. Or run and hit.
   3. depletion Posted: May 07, 2022 at 04:55 PM (#6075677)
“Hitters should not swing,” said Kyle Boddy

Pretty tough to be a hitter without having swung. "Batters should not swing" is a different argument, and is a demonstration of why the mean is a very small piece of information about a set of data.

I'm biased as a Mets fan, but I though this was a neat article about what is working in 2022 baseball.

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