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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KingCorranAnd by 2014, I mean 2016. *headdesk*11 min 40 sec ago
moethedogIf we get Smith (w/o giving up something young and sweet), the Smith/Ruggiano pairing is as good as bet as Melky would be at less than 1/2 the cost. And with Melky we still needed to grab the 2nd CF. This is the type of early complementary move the Giants usually make.14 min 51 sec ago
KingCorranI like that this doesn't block us from the 2014 OF FA market. If this is a chess match and we're thinking 4 moves ahead, there's a lot to be said for preserving flexibility for a no-prospect-cost move next offseason.29 min 20 sec ago
Gordon GrossYep, Ruggiano cost us a fungible asset. I would have preferred a different reliever, but really: we can find relievers. We probably just drafted 2 more while I was typing this.30 min 1 sec ago
TaroAckley probably needs to be platooned so you can still acquire either handed OF. We'll see, but I'm not holding my breath on an impact add.35 min 21 sec ago
moethedogThat's a good description, Gordon. I would prefer Souza...but this guy comes essentially free. Brazis is certainly a promising MiLB relief arm, but we hove those guys in spades. Ruggiano is the classic 4th OF as he can play all three positions and he's got a nice .266-.329-.508 career split vL. He does K, certainly. He is a potential nice addition. Does this mean Miller is no longer a SS? Or at least not the primary one and Taylor gets the ball? With Seth Smith then we would have a neat 25-man. Bloomie would be gone...In that situation I would give Romero the nod over Montero as BU 1B just because he's way more flexable. Right now it would be Ackley-Jackson-Ruggiano-Miller-Taylor-Seager-Cano-Morrison-Zunino-Sucre-Cruz. That's 11. We need one more guy that can play 2B/3B and a RHB 1B. One of those guys should be able to play COF, too. Then we are filled and flexable. Smith and Romero would get all that done.35 min 38 sec ago
Gordon GrossWe'll get more relievers, Spec, no doubt there. ;-) I just wanted Brazis available if we were gonna trade a major league reliever (like Medina). In fact, I would rather have traded Medina than Brazis. Now I assume the pen will stay relatively set (once we shake out the lefty thing, and find a place for Carson Smith... so maybe Medina is still in play after all).37 min 45 sec ago
Gordon GrossAnd really: Saunders + Brazis + 5 million bucks to throw at another move, or Ruggiano + Happ? It only makes sense if you have a legit platoon in RF (something that Saunders wouldn't have been happy with) AND one that will outhit Saunders.39 min 24 sec ago
SpectatorBrazis one of the unending spring-fed tap of RH relief guys that flow out of Jack&Mac's factory. Ruggiano's ISO 103 points higher vs. LHP (138 vs. 241!). But even tho he's 32, that's based on only 443 MLB PAs. So it's not carved in stone or anything. That being said, even Ruggiano's "bad" ISO (vs. RH) is an improvement over Denorfia and Endy.40 min 10 sec ago
Gordon GrossYeah, that's my worry Taro: that Ruggiano is losing his usefulness. He struck out 28% of the time against righties in 2014... AND against lefties. When you're K-ing 30% of the time against the arms you need to hit - that it is your ONLY useful skill to hit - I get worried that the end may be nigh. It may not be, and we're betting it isn't. But that better not be the last move. A Ruggiano/Jones platoon would sorta terrify me.42 min 23 sec ago
Gordon GrossSeth Smith is part 2 of that move, padna. I'll be pretty surprised if we don't now make that one.45 min 40 sec ago
TaroExtreme platoon player, history of mashing LHs, below-average defensive OF, showed some signs of decline in the 2nd half of the season. Will either be semi-useful in a platoon role or is finished due to decreasing contact. Still need a starting RF.45 min 44 sec ago
Gordon GrossThat said, if we'd traded Brazis for Souza I would have thought that was okay, so Ruggiano just needs to hit like his 2012 campaign and I'll be happy. ;-)47 min 6 sec ago
SilentpadnaThis looks like a Beane-style move to me. Ruggiano would be nice plug and play 4th OF. I'm okay with this. A low-risk, moderate reward. Am hoping there's still something more and the Divish is wrong. "Rays working a 3-4 team deal" makes me wonder....49 min 7 sec ago
Gordon GrossIMO, Matt Brazis was the best reliever we had left in our minors, and I had him ranked over Yarbrough. He was the next Dominic Leone and I expected him to "surprise" and make the pen in Spring Training (or at least be the first guy up). Cubs got a good one, IMO, in the vein of stealing Lord Farquhar. Hope Ruggiano can hit better than Denorfia.51 min 57 sec ago
okdanI'm just happy that it's not Viciedo.52 min 54 sec ago
Gordon GrossMATT BRAZIS??? ARGH!! I WILL USE MORE PUNCTUATION!!55 min 1 sec ago
DaddyOAh the lot of the baseball fan. Wondering all night what trade was going down, only to find out it's Justin ^&*(% Ruggiano (with a tone similar to that of Tommy Lasorda in his famous Kurt Bevacqua rant). I'm sure Ruggiano is serviceable, though I don't really know.55 min 35 sec ago
Gordon GrossYeah, I would now expect Seth Smith. A Smith/Ruggiano RF would be a .835 vs lefties / .840 vs RHP platoon for about 10 million bucks. It leaves room for the minors guys to step into an OF role while giving us guys who are used to platooning and pretty good at it to pin down the position. As long as we add a Smith-like bat, I'll be okay with that. Unless the early age curve hits either guy, in which case I'll cry into my cornflakes - and await Kivlehan (assuming he hasn't been traded for either dude... which would be pretty bad...)55 min 48 sec ago