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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MtGrizzlyFrom mlbtr: "The Mariners, Mather explained, overshot their allotted player personnel budget by nearly $16MM in 2014. However, ownership had no complaints after seeing the team’s strong performance. Rather than asking how the $16MM would be recouped, they instead asked Mather how the team was going to get six more wins in 2015."15 hours 25 min ago
mojicianBe sure to tune into the shoutbox if you ever want to hear tomorrow's news today. :)21 hours 6 min ago
mojicianI'd like the record to reflect that I called a Giants World Series win on the night of the NL Wild Card game and right before the World Series started. My foresight is not quite 20-20, so I predicted a series win in five games. I want bragging rights and a bracket of some kind.21 hours 8 min ago
MtGrizzlyTo be fair, it's not as if Smoak had any success with his 'old' batting mechanics.1 day 7 hours ago
moethedogModern coaches would probably try to fix M. Ott or S. Oh!1 day 19 hours ago
moethedogChanging a hitter's stroke is more tricky than we wish to admit. There is a lot of investment by a player that has to be discarded, some can't do it. Many struggle because the stroke they have is their natural one, and the right one given their particular set of physical skills, make-up, vision, etc. Just telling a player to "go the other way" and assuming that fixes him is problematic, as is much "teaching" in that regard. PGA Tour-level players regularly "lose it" as they try to make mechanical fixes, some never get it back. What we think is purely mechanical is often bio-mechanical, meaning that a persons body optimally functions is a certain way. "Fixing" that may not be a fix. You older guys will remember Keith "Silk" Wilkes, the former UCLA and NBA player. He had a completely weird jump shot stroke that you would teach to nobody...but it worked.1 day 19 hours ago
moethedog"Fixing" it would have been disastrous. I think both Smoak and Ackley have been "fixed" to death. leaving them alone would have been a much better option. Some guys can be changed for the better. Some can't. Leave those guys alone. Hitting coaches (like swing coaches) are paid to coach, so they do. But I think in the majority of cases they would be better (at the MLB level) if they just said, "Swing a lighter bat" or "stand closer to the plate" or "take a day off" a lot more than they do. Not every problem can be "mechanically" fixed.1 day 19 hours ago
DaddyOI hope Smoak figures how to carve out a productive MLB career for himself. Meanwhile, he remains just one of a number of M's can't-miss hitting prospects who so far have sputtered and missed. A team can only pitch so well. Meanwhile they have to score some runs. Of course that sentiment is preaching to the choir.1 day 20 hours ago
SABR MattMcClendon's impulse to get Smoak to hit the opposite way and get on top of the ball was, (assuming this analysis is correct) the right thing to instruct. Smoak wanted to be a power hitter though. A power hitter's brain with a contact hitter's actual power because his swing was greedy and mechanically flawed.1 day 21 hours ago
SABR MattJust had an interesting discussion with a hitting instructor who used to intern with the Yankees the year I was there about Smoak. He thinks the Mariners fouled up Smoak's swing mechanics. He sees in Smoak's vids, a guy who starts the bat head too low in the zone and whose swing is too wristy, meaning when he wants to hit for power (gets a cookie pitch), he is going to have to swing up at the ball and the barrell will be at both an upper-cutting and a hinged (pullside) angle. If he squares it up with that funky contact plane, the ball will be a very high fly ball (subject to warning track outs)...and if he gets funny contact, he will ground out to the pull side. Hey...remind me again...what were Smoak's main out types? When he looked at scouting vids of early Smoak...he didn't start the bat head too low and his swing was way less wristy.1 day 21 hours ago
Bat571I suspect the Ms let Blake walk, though. If he's smart, he'll run to the D'backs and sign for whatever to get a chance to work with Dave Duncan. He's the classic Duncan project - big RH that doesn't overpower people and needs to learn how to pitch.2 days 15 hours ago
Bat571Griz - I think Blake Beavan is still in the org. He was outrighted to Tacoma in August, and can become a free agent if not put back on the 40-man by a date that's pretty soon or signed to a new minor league deal, but the Ms still have a shred of the return left.2 days 15 hours ago
DaddyOThis has nothing to do with current conversations, but I sure like Joe Panik. Not just his stats, but the way he plays the game. This guy is going to be a fixture for a LONG time.2 days 17 hours ago
misterjonezLove to see the decision made on Smoak. The M's seriously need to re-evaluate their offensive development program, but when it's time to cut bait it's time to cut bait. LoMo looks like a better bet, and neither one projects as a world beater. Here's hoping Smoak can turn into Adam Lind in Toronto; I wish him well.2 days 18 hours ago
moethedogSo here's the Lind attraction: Career vR he is .293-.349-.510! (Career vL he's .212-.257-.331) In a platoon situation at 1B or DH, he would be a terrific (and relatively cheap ($) add. Is Montero the vL bat to go with him? What is the cost of trading for Lind? But if you want to bring 115 starts of vR mashing, Lind is a guy to consider.2 days 18 hours ago
MtGrizzlyAll of the guys that came to Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade are now gone from the org.2 days 18 hours ago
SABR Mattand at least one of those catchers that did make the final three isn't even major league average defensively...I'll let you guys figure out which one. :)2 days 20 hours ago
mojicianSpeaking of rigged, what about Zunino's gold glove nomination? He caught the filthiest pitching staff in the American league, he cheated and stole caught strikes on a grand scale with his pitch framing, and then there are the tangibles: His AL Rankings: Second in catchers ERA, Fifth in baserunners nabbed, Third in fielding percentage, sixth in passed balls despite catching the magic changeup, the shuuto, and the Pax Curvanus, Second in games played. It is hard to come up with any measure of a catcher that Zunino isn't near the top of the leaderboard.2 days 20 hours ago
mojicianWhat about DJ making the AFL all star game with his .641 OPS and Kivlehan snubbed with his .913 OPS? This seems rigged.2 days 21 hours ago
mojicianSmoak's gone? Heh. That was a long and painful relationship. I hope he does well.2 days 22 hours ago