Measuring "Plate Skills"

One last funky stat: "Hitter's +/-"

Once again, to recap our overall philosophy:  PRODUCTION + PLATE SKILLS + AGE-ARC

We got a new stat to measure "Production," which is called "Plausibility Index," which is covered via the "Allegory of the Window."  I felt there needed to be a stat that incorporated both walks and extra-base hits, but also recognized that strikeouts impact Production by reducing the number of balls in play, and, thereby, increasing the necessary conversion rate (the rate of conversion of balls in play to "random-y singles") to a level that may (if it's very high) make offensive success "implausible."

So what about "Plate Skills," the other part of the formula?

Plate Skills can be measured by on-base percentage, or by "eye ratio" (BB / K), or by separate calculations of K% (K / PA) and BB% (BB / PA).  But, here again, I didn't think we were getting the whole picture.  Just like I view strikeouts as a non-trivial part of Production, I view "hitting the ball with authority" as an integral part of Plate Skills.

In other words, it's not just a matter of distinguishing balls from strikes, it's distinguishing a "hitter's pitch" from a "pitcher's pitch."  The latter two may be balls or strikes, so "just" strike-zone judgment is not enough.  When the hitter gets a "hitter's pitch," what is he supposed to do with it?  Hit it!  So, except as it demonstrates the relative ability to avoid strikeouts (by connecting with the ball), "eye ratio" doesn't really cover that part of Plate Skills.

OBP, then, might be better ... except, (1) it doesn't tell you anything about strikeouts, and (2) it can be  mightily affected by our old friend the "random-y single."  As we've noted, the "random-y single" represents a ball hit without authority, and our system treats "random-y singles" as no better than "random-y ball-in-play outs."  Our theory is that the ability to hit "random-y singles" against minor-league pitching doesn't really tell us anything about a prospects likelihood of major-league success.

So, once again, we devised our own stat, which we dubbed "Hitter's +/-

Without going into excruciating detail (well, maybe we already have), we took what appeared to be a reasonable "average" distribution of our six measurable "plate outcomes" from a bunch of major and minor leagues.  [Again -- going back to the Manifesto -- we weren't looking for a "perfect" model, just something "reasonable."]  [The six are walks, strikeouts, home runs, balls hit with authority (2b + 3b), singles (assumed "random-y" per our assumption), and ball-in-play outs (also assumed "random-y").]

Once we had this "normal distribution" of plate outcomes, there is an "expected" OBP resulting therefrom.  It was .295.  If a hitter's results reflected that "normal distribution," he would have a "Hitters +/-" of 0.00, because he would have neither increased nor decreased his "expected" OBP.

OK (maybe?) ...

We then take each plate appearance and measure the difference between that particular plate outcome and the "expected" OBP.  A strikeout drops that PA's expected OBP from .295 to .000, so each strikeout is weighted at -.295.  A home run or a walk increases the "expected" OBP from .295 to 1.000, so they are weighted at +.705.  Balls in play hit with authority (measured as doubles and triples) we calculated (somewhat arbitrarily) to be worth +.225.

Singles and balls in play hit without authority we assume are neither positive nor negative (but "random-y").  Therefore, they neither increase nor decrease the "expected" OBP.  In other words, they don't count in this equation at all.

So ... for a hitter to achieve a positive "+/-" the value of his weighted XBH + BB must exceed the value of his weighted K.  Singles and ball-in-play outs are assumed out of the equation.  If a hitter achieves that positive value, then he is turning the plate appearance to his advantage vis-a-vis the pitcher. 

That last thing, ultimately, is what we are driving at.  The hitter must "play defense" against the pitcher's attack in order to "play offense" against the other team.  The ability to do that is what this stat is driving at.



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Tacoma Rain's picture

Tacoma Rain

You have not lost me so far... and I do think it makes baseball sense so far from my point of view.


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GLSThere are other GMs not named Beane that understand roster construction. We had Pat Gillick once upon a time. He understood roster contruction pretty well. There are others out there now. I agree that Jack is probably somewhere at that median level of GM competence, and it's not like he doesn't understand how to put a roster together. But, even with today's moves, I'm hoping the organization goes in a different direction with the GM position in the offseason. I just don't see much from Jack in the way of creative thinking.3 hours 46 min ago
bsrBtw who wants to guess how much the A's payroll has increased this year vs 2013, including the deadline additions? Yep, right around $25M. What a coincidence! So now we are seeing what Billy Beane can do with a decent payroll...i.e., destroy the league.4 hours 19 min ago
bsrGLS - I agree but Billy Beane's are in short supply. If you don't have a genius played by Brad Pitt to run your team :) ... you need some extra dough! $130M is what good teams with 2 mega contracts are spending these days, so I assume that's what we need too. Given that Jack seems to be on balance about an average-ish GM. He's definitely good enough that I'd trust him to build a champion with an extra $20-30M this offseason. With an extra $0-10M...not so sure he's got the skills.4 hours 35 min ago
bsrI have no idea what the cash flows are from the ROOT deal, and when they hit the coffers and can be spent. But the national TV money by all reported accounts was $25M extra to each team starting in 2014. So the M's should have that money already. I was surprised to see when I just looked, that they actually did increase payroll $15M in 2014 (it was $85M in 2012 and 2013). My guess is they spent what they had in hand of the national TV money, maybe there were timing issues w/ the payout that didn't allow them to access the entire $25M in year 1, or maybe they spent $10M on other stuff (who knows what - minor leagues, international facilities, Safeco...). In any case I'd assume they'll get a +$10M boost to payroll this offseason right there. Plus attendance is up, that's another few million they'll have. So really they need $15-20M from somewhere else to be at the $130M competitive payroll level, hopefully it'll be ROOT money.4 hours 41 min ago
bsrLast 11 WS winners payroll (in 2013 $, adjusting for increases in avg salary): 151, 139, 120, 109, 230, 117, 178, 112, 104, 189, 69 (Marlins #2...amazing). Median is $120M, average is $140M. M's payroll is 100M this year. To be a real solid contender they need to add $20M payroll in the offseason. $30-40M would be ideal.4 hours 51 min ago
GLSbsr - the difference with the A's is that Billy Beane seems to have complete control of roster decisions and he has a very clear understanding of how to put a roster together.4 hours 52 min ago
Bat571I also have a sneaking suspicion that, right after trading Cespedes, the A's will suddenly be the favorites to sign Rusney Castillo5 hours 6 min ago
Bat571If the Ms go after Yasmani Tomas, they'll be looking at something like $70M to sign him, so the payroll does have to have some room. But I'm thinking *THE PLAN* may just allow for one big signing each year and a gradual buildup with extensions (Seager?), etc., to the TV money level we all figure the Ms can truly afford. By spacing it out they have a more predictable budget 3-4 years out, so it does make some sense. So ...., if it's the plan, I hope Tomas clears the Treasury vetting soon, so the Ms can get the lineup closer to 9 men long, rather than the 2 or even 4-5.5 hours 8 min ago
bsrWhy can't the M's succeed the way Beane and the Rays have -- they don't have $130M payrolls. Well they haven't won any titles in either place. But setting that aside, the M's have already given up on the A's/Rays approach. The $130M payroll strategy is the one they chose by adding Cano. Teams that have won on the cheap didn't have $50M tied up in two guys. Period. So hopefully 2014 will be a transition year, and they'll complete the strategy this offseason and go to war in 2015 with a full scale MLB roster.5 hours 35 min ago
bsrThe most important question for M's fans is, when will they be able to start spending the new TV money. There are zero other teams with $50M payroll tied up in two guys like us, who have an overall payroll under $130M. We are a total outlier in MLB. The math is simple, there is just no money left over if payroll stays in the $90-100M range and half of it is tied up in Cano and Felix. Get payroll up to $130M with new TV money and we are talking. Then we have a good chance to go on a multi-year run, as long as some of the young guys keep taking steps forward. I hope we hang tough this year and get into the Dice Roll Game, that would be awesome. But really next year is where we should have a chance to be very good, IF we have the cash to bolster the team.5 hours 50 min ago
rick82Moe, I was thinking the same thing! Why not put Kelly at first? At the very least, he'll get on base ahead of Zunino. But seriously, he seems to be taking the Mike Carp route, sacrificing batting average and some OBP for the power needed to play in the bigs.5 hours 57 min ago
bsrSeems pretty clear Z had $7M in 2014 money to spend at the deadline, i.e. Hart's incentive money. And that's what he spent. So my question is, do we think he made good use of $7M? Anything more was not realistic. But Price+Zobrist would have cost $7M too (but obviously along with more young talent going out the door). Would that pair, less the additional prospects lost, be better than what we got? (not losing much young talent)6 hours 22 min ago
PlawsableYork was at 3b until August and hit one HR after that as a PH. His total at catcher was 22, so I&#039;d think of it as a tie with Fisk6 hours 30 min ago
rick82Montero is in his hotel room thinking, "I had 15. What's the big deal?"6 hours 38 min ago
moethedogKelly homers again for Tacoma, BTW. He played 1 game at 1B back in the Sally League in '11. Just in case you were wondering.6 hours 41 min ago
moethedogPlaw: Earl Williams hit 33 in '75 with the Braves. NL though. But Rudy York hit 35 in '37 for the Tigers. He started 54 games a C and 40 at 3B.6 hours 45 min ago
Bat571Absolutely agree, Rick - Saunders is the key to why JackZ didn't go harder after the bigger names. If he can get back soon it will make a BIG difference.7 hours 19 min ago
Bat571Morban hits one ~418' and ends up with a triple and an RBI - but that ball was hit HARD ! But CF is 420' in the Salt Lake ballpark.7 hours 20 min ago
PlawsableI was trying to find AL record for rookie catcher HR. Searched every way I could think of then every name I could think of and the AL catchers known for HR mostly developed their power in their mid to late twenties. Carlton Fisk had 22 his rookie year, anyone with more in AL history?7 hours 43 min ago
Bat571Tacoma on CBSSports tonight. Beaven pitching with score 1-0, bases loaded, and Fields of SLC just hit one *barely* foul and then strikes out.7 hours 49 min ago