FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. I was just thinking about how bad the left fielders in the NL central are in terms of defense. Soriano, Lee, and Braun were all -8 or worse by UZR/150 last year. STL and Pittsburgh had a rotation going through there all year so its hard to tell how good they were on defense. Perhaps Votto’s natural ability to hit to left field, hit them ball hard, and the bad LF defense in the NL Central combine to give Votto his amazingly high BABIP to left on fly balls last year and could contribute to him posting an above average number again next year

    Comment by Patrick M — February 15, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  2. Any chance you could change this graph as well to make the piece a size relative to the % of balls hit there? Reading labels and looking at colors is counter-intuitive (or at least requires conscious thought that would indicate a table may be as good of a solution).

    For instance, you could make the size of the average piece 0.37 (max value in the chart) and then scale down the size of each other piece in accordance with how often the ball is hit there. Keep the black outlines, and just scale the colored pieces, so that it’s clear which segment indicates which.

    (Any suggestions on how to learn R so that I can do these awesome things myself rather than constantly bothering you to do it? I downloaded the package and have no trouble loading data, but creating the graphs is a nightmare!)

    Comment by Sal Paradise — February 15, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

  3. Yeah Sal,

    I agree that size/color is a lot easier to compare than numbers/color. Your same suggestion for the Jeter post was totally right on. This one could also work well, but it is a little trickier for me to think about how to code up — especially this late. But maybe I will give it a try in these next couple days.

    Anyway your comments are not a bother, they are often very helpful. I guess R has a pretty steep learning curve. My only real suggestion is just to play around with it a lot, but that might not be very helpful. This website has a collection of graphs made in R with the source code.

    Comment by Dave Allen — February 15, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

  4. Sounds like a lefthanded hitter tailor-made for Fenway Park.

    Comment by drchstrpunk — February 16, 2010 @ 1:16 am

  5. There was a good article at the hardballtimes a while back about how parallax might affect what gets called a fly ball and what gets called a line drive. I can’t remember if they mentioned GABP, but I feel I’ve heard discussion about whether or not the scorer at GABP (apparently he’s new as of the past couple years) might suppress LD rates. In particular I recall this being talk about in relation to Jay Bruce’s miniscule LD% last year. Were this the case is it not a possibility that Votto’s high BABIP on flies is actually a reflection of some of those balls being liners? I’m really curious how strongly scorers influence these calls, since we use their subjective decisions to create statistics which get treated rather objectively when run through our analytic ringerer.

    Comment by Doug — February 16, 2010 @ 1:57 am

  6. At the same time, couldn’t another analysis of this data find that Votto may be in line for a regression at the plate? His fly ball BABIP would be very difficult to duplicate, which means this impressive stat could quickly turn into outs, bringing him closer to the league average.

    Comment by Chris — February 16, 2010 @ 2:05 am

  7. I see y one could expect regression from joey given that huge babip on fly balls. But if most of those non hr flies to left r so deep, what’s to say he won’t take a step foward and start putting them over the fence. Obviously we won’t know til after this season, but I just thought it was worth mentioning

    Comment by lee d — February 16, 2010 @ 6:34 am

  8. Great point. Those classifications are done by stringers and just over a year ago in these very pages Brian Cartwright wrote about this problem specifically with LDs.

    Comment by Dave Allen — February 16, 2010 @ 9:34 am

  9. Votto seems to have really good bat control on pitches up, getting the head of the bat on balls that aren’t your usual “good pitches to hit”. I guess this is a case where the impression matches the data. If he can continue demonstrating this nearly uncanny skill, he will have high averages, including obp as he gets more respect. Pitchers with good command will find a way to tame him a bit but not enough to take these averages down significantly. I, for one, hope he doesn’t ever leave for Fenway (but you’re right drchstrpunk).

    Comment by Matt McWax — February 16, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  10. Tough call how to align the OF defense against him. Can’t really shift toward left against him can you???

    Comment by Jimbo — February 16, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  11. It seems like his high BABIP could in fact be a function of the fact that he hits so many FBs to LF: LFers may be playing him like a normal LHB (to pull, shading to right), and he often hits it too far to their right for them to make a play.

    Comment by The Hit Dog — February 16, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  12. What would really be fascinating to see is a hit chart of Votto’s FBs to LF… pretty good odds that a lot of those are on the “left” half (from the perspective of home plate) of the left field grid.

    Comment by The Hit Dog — February 16, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

  13. I’m just happy there’s someone like you who is intent on making clear understandable graphics. For those who haven’t gotten into sabermetrics, these graphs are a really easy window into what the community is doing, and that makes it more accessible.

    I’ll just be sad when one of the major media outlets snags you to do their graphics for them.

    (Okay, I’ll just follow your graphics there instead)

    Comment by Sal Paradise — February 16, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  14. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that seeing a fangraphs post based on a comment I made is the highlight of my day thus far (to be fair, it’s only 10:50 AM).

    Comment by Temo — February 17, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  15. I don’t have the data and this is pretty subjective, but Votto has tremendous power toward the left-center gap. I’d be willing to bet a good portion of his HRs and non-HR flyball hits are to that area.

    I would also tentatively agree with Matt McWax that those HRs/hits are the result of Votto having good bat control on pitches up in the zone.

    Comment by Brad — February 17, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  16. That’s a good point, though even if true it only reinforces the idea that he has tremendous skill in going to the opposite field.

    Comment by Temo — February 18, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  17. Wow, fascinating article! How can you come up with such fascinating write-ups every time? I am impressed ;)

    Comment by Margie Pepitone — January 31, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

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