FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. Very interesting stuff, and a good read.

    Comment by Jack Nugent — August 31, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  2. I think this is a really interesting idea and a new approach to power if the various hits are weighted a little more critically. However, I do wish there was some way to look at whether that double was caused by a deep hit off the wall or a speedy player, a la Jose Reyes, taking advantage of bad fielding.

    Comment by Larry — August 31, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

  3. That happens.

    But, you also need to look at whether a 380ft fly ball is an out because of a fielder who timed a leap right, or a homerun because a guy timed a leap poorly, and that probably happens just as often.

    Or if a lazy fly ball clears the fences because of a brisk breeze, or a shot ends up being a loud out because of a breeze the other way.

    We need hitFX.

    Comment by RC — August 31, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  4. I see what you’re saying, but it doesn’t happen as often. The ball in the left-center gap that gets turned into a double with a speedy guy happens more frequently than the HR example.

    But yeah, hitFX could help solve this. Nevertheless, enjoyed the piece, we should get wXB/AB up there as a stat (as well as FIB).

    Comment by PatsNats28 — August 31, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  5. If you’re talking about *power*, I’d think you want to discount triples and try to remove leg-doubles, no?

    Comment by Bigtinkler — August 31, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  6. My basic definition of power is how hard the player hits the ball, not the value his extra base hits provide. The average speed of the ball off the hitter’s bat should tell you the player’s power and wouldn’t rely on defense, park effects, the player’s speed or other factors that don’t really have much to do with power. ISO and wXB are certainly more useful to determine the quality of a hitter, but speed off the bat is more interesting to me (and a lot of fun to see in person).

    Comment by Pat — August 31, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  7. Interesting idea, but this doesn’t solve the inherent bias towards contact hitters inherent in SLG and ISO. Good contact hitters get more XBH just by virtue of having more hits. If you want to measure how much good a player’s power does, this looks like a good option. But if you want to measure raw power, go with Power Factor: (TB – H)/H

    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/8/10/2353241/who-are-the-most-powerful-hitters-in-baseball

    Comment by Lewie Pollis — August 31, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  8. That’s what I thought of too. Force of the ball coming off of the bat.

    Comment by Xeifrank — August 31, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  9. Just use your scouter, duh.

    Comment by Pelly — August 31, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  10. That would work, but then there’s guys who hit the ball 100+ mph off the bat but don’t generate loft or backspin. I’d be willing to wager Reyes, for one, would rank higher in that category than a lot of guys with legitimate power in doubles and triples.

    Comment by Deadpool — August 31, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  11. Yeah, for the purposes of measuring true power, I think triples should count the same as doubles. It seems to me that in almost all cases, triples are simply misplayed doubles or doubles hit by fast players. Yes, triples are more valuable, and players should be rewarded for that, but if we’re trying to determine power, I just want to know how hard the player is hitting the ball, not how fast he is.

    I think leg-doubles are much more rare than leg-triples, however, so I don’t know if that needs to be accounted for.

    Comment by strongbad56 — August 31, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  12. No. Why would you discount them? Are they not recorded in the boxscore? Are they not as valuable? Are they not as much a result of a player’s talent?

    Power, in the baseball context, doesn’t refer to brute strength. If you want to measure that, have the players do some bench presses. In the baseball context, “power” means the ability to hit for extra bases. Doesn’t matter whether it’s due to speed or strength.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 31, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  13. I wouldn’t say it’s a bias…if a player makes more contact and gets more XBHs, doesn’t that make them a better power hitter? A player may have a crapton of power, but if they can’t make contact and never make use of it, what use is that?

    So I guess what I’m arguing is that the “most powerful” hitter in the majors isn’t just whoever can hit the ball the hardest, but who does so on a consistent basis as well. Jose Bautista versus Chris Davis. Or at least, that’s what I’m trying to get at here.

    Tbh, isn’t Power Factor just a modified ISO? The numerator is still XBHs…you’re just looking at which players get mostly XBHs and few singles.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  14. Why on earth would you divide by at-bats rather than by plate appearances? Every walk is a forfeited opportunity to get extra bases, so they should certainly be included.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 31, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  15. This was my thought too. There’s a difference between scouting “power” — which is less tangible and tied more to brute strength — and discussing power in the context of XBHs.

    And anyway, it’d be nearly impossible to sort them out unless someone was watching every game and classifying the hits. Even if it’s not ideal this way, it’s a relatively small issue.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  16. In this instance, because that’s what SLG and ISO do and it made for an easy comparison.

    Also, if a player gets walked a lot (like Bautista), it’d then skew their power numbers. No sense penalizing them for that.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  17. I think triples just need to be treated as doubles. Most of the triples I see are either mistakes on the outfielders part, just some dude who can fly hitting a solid double, or both.

    If the purpose of power is to understand how well a player moves runners over, then a triple isn’t really offering much more than a double – particularly if it is outfielders making a mistake/missing on a dive etc.

    Comment by Resolution — August 31, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  18. Der, still Extra Bases* not XBHs.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

  19. “Better power hitter,” yes. But not “more powerful.” There’s a difference. A guy with a high SLG or ISO is better than a guy with a high PF, but I would say he has less actual pop.

    If all that matters is how well a batter uses his power, why not just use SLG? When you make the transition from SLG to ISO or wXB/AB, you’re already acknowledging that being the most powerful doesn’t mean getting the most bases. Why not take it all the way?

    And yes, PF = ISO/BA (= XB/H).

    Comment by Lewie Pollis — August 31, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  20. we should probably just start stripping intentional walks out of walk totals. This doesn’t necessarily help with batters getting pitched around, but it’s something that’s long overdue in my opinion.

    Looking at just walk totals, it looks like for a while, Vlad Guerrero really learned how to work counts and draw walks and now that he’s older he’s just lost some eye or is pressing too much. Really though, it’s just that people started intentionally walking him a bunch and then those same people all just stopped.

    Comment by Resolution — August 31, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

  21. Why on earth would you penalize Jose Bautista or Mike Stanton’s power numbers (SLG, ISO%) because a pitcher wants no part of them and throws 4 balls in a row?

    Comment by Mike — August 31, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  22. Hrm, fair enough I guess. I should really get more familiar with PF…that’s a great read you linked to, thanks.

    And I’m arguing you shouldn’t use ISO and SLG because they’re improperly weighing each of the XBHs. If you’re going to weigh them, you might as well do it accurately.

    The XB/H formula is sooo much easier to understand…awesome. I had such a hard time wrapping my head around the ISO/BA one.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  23. “Power, in the baseball context, doesn’t refer to brute strength. If you want to measure that, have the players do some bench presses. In the baseball context, “power” means the ability to hit for extra bases. Doesn’t matter whether it’s due to speed or strength.”
    ——
    You are stating your opinion on the definition of power, and this, I believe, is still the heart of the matter. The author asks, “what is power?” but I’m not sure he explains clearly how he defines it (looks to me it’s something like: the value created by a hitter in extra-base hits). It’s already clear in these comments that there are a few different definitions out there, and they all seem valid to me- they just measure different things. It may be worth having a few different “power” stats that describe these different things.

    Comment by Tim_the_Beaver — August 31, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  24. If we replace the term “power” with “extra base ability” are we all more comfortable with the descriptive power of ISO, SLG, and wXB for players like Granderson, Reyes etc. that get a lot of their “extra base ability” from their legs?

    Power seems to be a loaded term that obfuscates what we’re really trying to analyze here: The ability of hitter X to get X bases per AB/PA.

    Unless we can isolate the component contributions of hitting the ball hard vs. running fast I’m not sure that teasing the speed/legs out of “power” does anything to aid in analysis. Of course Wily Mo Pena is the most or one of the most “powerful” players in MLB….when he connects.

    To me, contact is a requisite for effective use of said “power” in whatever form a player has it.

    Comment by Scott — August 31, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  25. This comment its over 9000

    Comment by domingoes — August 31, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

  26. wXB looks sexy too.

    That’s my contribution to this discussion

    Comment by pbjsandwich — August 31, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

  27. If you’re penalizing somebody’s power numbers for hitting singles, you absolutely should penalize them for drawing walks. If a batter is capable of turning on a ball out of the strike zone and hitting it out of the park, but instead chooses to take that for ball four, he is voluntarily foregoing an opportunity to get extra bases. Saying that somebody’s isolated power is “skewed” by drawing walks is like saying that it’s “skewed” by hitting a lot of singles. Um… yeah. They’re both events that get a batter on first base. I can’t see why a batter gets penalized for swinging at a ball and getting on first base, but doesn’t get penalized for not swinging at a ball and getting on first base.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 31, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  28. I just wanted to say that wXB is a great idea in it’s simplicity, so much so that in retrospect it seems like wXB should have been obvious a long time ago. I liked the article a lot.

    Comment by domingoes — August 31, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  29. If they’re really concerned about getting an extra base on a home run or double, they’re free to swing at pitches out of the strike zone.

    This of course would never happen in the modern game, but I’ve always wanted to see a batter just REFUSE an intentional walk. Swing at the first two intentional balls, and get to an 0-2 count, just to see if the pitcher would then try to actually pitch to him. If a hitter is confident enough in his abilities, it would be cool to see.

    Comment by JimNYC — August 31, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  30. I don’t think backspin is particularly meaningful, the guys who have swings that might generate backspin are the guys with tremendously high ground ball rates swinging downwards on the ball. While sometimes backspin allows a ball to carry a little better I think we’re talking about a pretty negligible effect. The only example off the top of my head I can come up with for a guy who generates power with backspin would be Derek Jeter.

    The guys we really think of as having power, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez all swing flat or up at the ball. This holds true for more historical examples as well, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron. These guys are planing the bat and swinging level or up on the ball. To generate legitimate backspin you’ve got to be swinging down on the ball which is a mechanic that under-utilizes core muscle mass and doesn’t generate consistent power, while also causing a very high ground ball rate. Actually I’m kind of thinking HR/GB might shed some light on that. I think you can even extrapolate this for people who generate their power from doubles. Edgar Martinez, swinging on plane with the ball, thus generated a huge amount of doubles. Now doubles get biased by the fact that successful ground ball hitters are likely to turn more singles into doubles, and doubles into triples.

    If anyone is keeping track of mph off the bat I would love to see that, because that’s what power really comes down to. Lacking that, we need to extrapolate from box scores. Personally I like the stat and while I like to see what people are saying here, and I find it interesting, I don’t agree with a fair amount of what gets said on this page. wXB/AB is exactly what I was thinking when I read the title, but if we could get avg mph off the bat and variance of mph off the bat widely published I think that would shed a lot of light on how effectively different players drive the ball and would tell us a lot about some real mysteries. For example, I saw a piece a little while ago about Ryan Roberts’ power surge, effectively arguing that Roberts’ power this year is a fluke, and maybe it is, but if the guy found a way to dramatically increase his batspeed over the winter then there’s no reason we should be skeptical of his ability to maintain it. I don’t really watch the Diamondbacks, so I don’t know, but it’s entirely plausible that Roberts has changed his swing mechanics to move away from the low batspeed downward arch towards a more full body swing that can generate power and consistency. If we can measure batspeed in a game or ball speed off the bat in a game we can tell a lot more about a player’s power than we get from extrapolating power from their box score statistics.

    Comment by Corey — August 31, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

  31. I’d look at something like the difference between a player’s wOBA and the theoretical wOBA if you replaced all of their hits with singles. So Bautista becomes a .315/.455/.315 hitter. How much has his power been worth?

    Comment by test — August 31, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

  32. To measure true power I would think distance and LD% would have to be entered into the equation. A Ben Revere blooper into shallow left that he turns into a double is very different from Adrian Gonzalez crushing a line drive into the Green Monster. Who has more power here? With wXB they have the same. It’s an easy fix to some possible problems with ISO but it has some of the same issues. You cannot weight different extra base hits because speed comes into that too much. You end up measuring speed over power. Also average cannot be included because many of the most powerful hitters do not hit for average and so when they are penalized for hitting too few doubles they are not given a fair shake when the attempt is to measure their power.

    Something like Power = (Total feet/(#of hits + errors)) * LD%

    That probably isn’t great but it works for the little effort and time I have available to dedicate to it.

    Comment by cuck — August 31, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  33. I suppose this is only for qualified batters, but John Mayberry, Jr has a .217 wXB/AB in 205 ABs. As many extra base hits as singles.

    Comment by Travis — August 31, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  34. .330 iso does not mean nearly 1 extra base hit every 3 AB. that would mean Joey Bats is bating over .330 avg when also considering singel and he is not.

    Comment by SaloF — August 31, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  35. Disclaimer: Did not read any of the comments. Forgive any unintended redundancy.

    The problem with extra bases and power is that all doubles and triples are not achieved the same way.

    A double in one situation could be a blast that hits the top of the wall, in another it could be a hard ground balldown the line.

    Triples are more of a function of speed + lucky bounce, so I wouldn;t count triples in a “power equation”, unless we wanted to count them as doubles and chalk the extra base up to speed.

    When you look at a batted ball and wonder if there’s a chance it can be a triple, the first thing you look at it the batter’s speed. With a double, you pretty much look at where the ball was hit and when we say “Oh, that’s a double”, we pretty much mean it’s a double for anyone due to its hit distance and location.

    We seemingly keep looking for alternate definitions of “power” because we don’t like it being limited to home runs …. even though most of the fans and players view power as represented by home runs.

    When we get hit Fx and batted ball velocity becomes a familiar term that guys like matt Holliday may get more respect in the power department, but since their swing path is flatter, they tend to hit a lot of hard liners, rather than the archs that result in home runs. Jose Bautista has an excellent C-path home run swing. He hits, high-arching moon blasts.

    When we talk about power, I’d prefer to use the average distance of a struck ball, and that includes line drives that roll to the wall. On this last bit, this is the same thing I do with my son and other young hitters who we want focusing on hitting the ball hard. When they hear the term they think of how far it goes on the fly, so they try to hit high fly balls. I want them to hit the ball so damn hard that it makes it to the wall. Long fly balls don’t make it to the wall, hard lines drives do. So, that’s the perspective I would come from in regards to “power hitter” … batted ball velocity + distance travelled.

    IMHO, extra base hits factor in too much player speed to really be effective in measuring “power”. Power to me is the science way of saying “hits the shit out of the ball.” Pardon my French. Power also equals Force (N) x distance(m) over time(s); Work(W)/Time(s). When we have the data, that would be a good baseball definition as well.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 31, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  36. “…they’re free to swing at pitches out of the strike zone.

    This of course would never happen in the modern game, but I’ve always wanted to see a batter just REFUSE an intentional walk.”

    Miguel Cabrera begs to differ.

    http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=16860119

    Comment by Toffer Peak — August 31, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  37. I like the stat. But why do you AB instead of PA? Tradition?

    Comment by Matt M — August 31, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  38. Yes!

    Comment by Xeifrank — August 31, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  39. He is averaging 1 *extra base* every 3 AB. It just so happens he hits lots of homers.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  40. Fair enough. It’s an opinion, and you’re entitled to disagree. But if your goal is to measure strength, why are you trying to use baseball stats to get there?

    Even if you look at percentage of batted balls that are HR’s, or fly ball distance, you’re looking at baseball skills rather than strength. Wily Mo Pena has to be one of the strongest men ever to play in the majors, but you can’t come to that conclusion no matter how you slice and dice the stats. He usually strikes out or hits the ball into the ground.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — August 31, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  41. I think you’re overstating how much of an effect speed influences power numbers. Yeah, some players will get more 2Bs and 3Bs because they’re fast, but 90% of the time they’re still hitting the ball quite far.

    And even if it influences a handful of batters to a large degree — Reyes pops to mind — I don’t think it undermines the utility of the stats for the rest of the majors.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  42. Answered above. Why penalize a hitter for walking a lot?

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

  43. my bad, I see you were not alking about extra base hits

    Comment by SaloF — August 31, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  44. Well maybe you shouldn’t, but i think the general problem is that this statistic is awkwardly stuck between something that is trying to measure value, and something that is trying to examine a particular tool. i think you need to go oneway or the other, stick with wOBA or us a metric that truly isolates power. Something like maybe speed score would for speed or possibly the powerfactor which was mentioned.

    Comment by bocephus — August 31, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  45. Are you aware that most baseball players are NOt Vlad Guerrero?

    Swinging at bad pitches trying to hit them out generally does not work.

    Singles are included because they are all pitches that the batter was willing to swing at and able to hit, but they did not (for whatever reason) get extra bases out of them.

    Comment by williams .482 — August 31, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  46. We should use PA because it grounds the quotient in the number of times a player comes to the plate- which is what you want to ground all offensive stats in.

    If Bautista is walked in every PA because he is perceived by pitchers to be too powerful to pitch to, well, he’s not collecting XBHs is he? The stat should reflect that reality.

    If you want to show rate of productive power then you should use Balls-in-Play (or simply Hits) in the denominator.

    “At Bats” is a pernicious funhouse mirror that distorts everything it touches- it should be banned from all future stats and slowly culled out of existing ones.

    Comment by mkd — August 31, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  47. I would love to see raw power scores for batters using speed and spin of the ball after contact (maximum and average), factor wind and ballpark, and be able to stdev them in a whole slew of ways: (hits – bunt hits), (BIP – bunts & groundball outs), (LDs + FBs), etc.

    That data, once available, will rewrite the book on luck, obliterate BABIP as we know it, and reside at the core of player projection models.

    Comment by Choo — August 31, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

  48. @Jim the difference is that when a player hits a single, he chose to swing and did not hit an extra base hit.

    Comment by Bill but not Ted — August 31, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  49. The derivation process of this stat makes ISO appear to be further from the linear weight values than it actually is. After all, ISO isn’t measuring the total value provided by non-single hits (as wXB is). It’s measuring the additional value provided by the fact that some hits were not singles.

    To get a stat which does the same thing as ISO in the wXB framework, we should subtract the wOBA weighting of a single from each of the numbers above. In 2008, I that was 0.89 (http://www.tangotiger.net/bdb/lwts_woba_for_bdb.txt). That change yields a formula for w(XB-S) of (0.38 * 2B) + (0.72 * 3B) + (1.20 * HR) dividing this by 0.38 yields (1 * 2B) + (1.89 * 3B) + (3.16 * HR), which looks a lot like ISO. It weights HR a little more than ISO and triples a little less, but this process makes it clear that ISO isn’t that far off the linear weights difference between the value of extra base hits and the value of singles (if on a different scale).

    Comment by Telnar — August 31, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

  50. Somebody hasn’t ever watched a game in SF before. Triples are a legitimate thing, and can depend on how deep into the alley a ball is hit.

    Comment by AK707 — August 31, 2011 @ 5:47 pm

  51. Corey doesn’t understand what backspin is. Backspin is when top of the ball is rotating back towards the batter after contact. Topspin is when the top of the ball is rotating away from the batter after contact. Hitting just under the vertical center of the ball generates backspin, which occurs during flat and uppercut swings. Swinging with a downward stroke is more likely to hit the top of the ball, generating topspin. Your post is exactly the opposite of reality.

    Comment by AK707 — August 31, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  52. Funny no one has mentioned Ryan Howard…Now thats Pure Power

    Comment by Terry Davis — August 31, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  53. I’m gonna repost this down here:

    We should use PA because it grounds the quotient in the number of times a player comes to the plate- which is what you want to ground all offensive stats in.

    If Bautista is walked in every PA because he is perceived by pitchers to be too powerful to pitch to, well, he’s not collecting XBHs is he? The stat should reflect that reality.

    If you want to show rate of productive power then you should use Balls-in-Play (or simply Hits) in the denominator.

    I love the whole concept of wXB, but “At Bats” is a pernicious funhouse mirror that distorts everything it touches- it should be banned from all future stats and slowly culled out of existing ones.

    Comment by mkd — August 31, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  54. I agree with a lot of the ppl who posted above, that batted ball data (velocity, spin, angle of contact…etc) are the ideal factors we should be looking at to measure power. There must be a distinction we make for if we are measuring value of XB’s vs. the pure power tool. You have to clearly define what exactly you are trying to find.

    If we are measuring value, triples should count for more, but not for the power tool. Shouldn’t taking the extra base on balls in play be counted in speed score instead though?

    This is all a bit confusing because some of us define power differently. Personally I think it is only a combination of contact ability and raw strength.

    Comment by Larry — August 31, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

  55. Great article, but there are two major issues, at least given how i look at power. i tend to agree with all the sentiment about ‘leg XBH’ vs ‘distance XBH’ because the fact that a player can get a double on a seeing eye grounder that an outfielder doesn’t charge hard enough is not power. now, here’s where my bigger issue comes in – clearly, that double is more valuable than a single, it just doesn’t demonstrate power. using wOBA for a set of weights implies that power relates to the value of a hit relative to the likelihood of scoring a run. This is something incredibly important to know when judging a players value to a team. however, power is the ability to hit the ball far/hard, not necessarily create a run by putting yourself in scoring position. I’m not sure of a good system for measuring this but I’m not sure that the proposed method captures power (at least to my way of thinking)

    Comment by miffleball — August 31, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

  56. AAARRGG… I already came up with wXB, i called it wISO. I came up with the exact same formula too!!! I even wrote an essay and submitted it to fangraphs. Oh well, at least it’s finaly being used EVEN if I’ll never ever get recognition for it. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

    Comment by Jack — August 31, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

  57. How would that be a measure of power? Power is what happens when you put the bat on the ball…

    If anything, AB – K is a better denominator.

    Comment by philosofool — August 31, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

  58. One ballpark does not a statistic make.

    Comment by Resolution — August 31, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  59. I think the point is more like (3B/(2B+3B)) is a matter of speed, not power.

    Comment by philosofool — August 31, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  60. If that’s true, you just got a stupid idea plagiarized.

    This is real simple: The players who hits a home run scores 100% of the time. And so does anybody on base at the time said home run is hit. Players score more often when they are standing on 3rd base. When a players hits a triple, any players on base in front of him score nearly 100% of the time. Home runs and triples have more influence in ISO because they’re more valuable outcomes. Which means ISO is good.

    If we must quibble over calling this power, fine, I therefore suggest we call it Isolated Awesomeness (ISA) and leave the formula that Branch Rickey invented 60 years ago alone because it works.

    Comment by Paul — August 31, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

  61. If triples were an indication of power and not speed, then fast guys wouldn’t lead the league in triples almost every year. That was my point.

    To another point, almost all batters use a C-path swing. Simply put, itls almost impossible to “swing kevel” and hit well. Level swings pretty much result in grounders. Pujols is sort of a unique case in that his swing path flattens out at the bottom. The result is that the barrel stays in the zone longer which resultsin power to all fields. He’s also a type B power hitter based on his bat speed being in the 80s, whereas type A’s have bat speeds in the upper 90s and above like Fielder, etc. Pujols is simply an extremely strong line drive hitter.

    Unlike Fielder, Bonds, eyc he does not tip the bat toward the pitcher or oppo when drawing his hands back. Pujols hands start stationary and uses virtually no leg kick or step. Often Pujols is used as an example of how to hit. Yeah if you have the type of leg strength to have a low center of gravity stance and use pure rotational mechanics without incorporating bat whip.

    In terms of force per distance I cannot imagine anyone topping Chase Utley. Lots of power in a very short swing, from a guy that’s not all that big. Freak of nature.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 31, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

  62. Woh! Seriously? Care to toss out a link? I’d love to see it…this is just something that I’ve been mulling around in my head for a few weeks.

    Comment by Steve Slowinski — August 31, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

  63. I like this a lot. The weights make a ton of sense, one question though. What’s FIB? Is it fielding independant batting?

    Comment by MauerPower — August 31, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  64. I guess this was a bad title.

    Too bad this devolved into a debate about the best way to measure power, because everyone is ignoring that this is an improvement on ISO.

    Comment by The Nicker — August 31, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

  65. I like simple things. I think all extra base hits kick ass. I can do up to single-digit division in my head with relative accuracy, so I vote, XBH/H.

    So if I see Bautista has 62 extra base hits out of 132 total hits, I know his hits actually kick some ass about %45 of the time. (In my brain I estimated 6 divided by 13) 45% is pretty awesome. These numbers can be found on almost any stat line including a baseball card.

    If I want to know how good a guy is at hitting I leave that up to OBA or wOBA.

    That’s how I do it.

    Comment by Erich — September 1, 2011 @ 1:51 am

  66. The launch angle matters more than the spin, no?

    It’s hard to hit the ball as hard with an uppercut and as with a straight swing, because it’s harder to make good contact on that plane. The ability to launch home runs is a true skill that doesn’t just depend on the speed of the ball off the bat.

    Comment by DCN — September 1, 2011 @ 2:05 am

  67. AK, I understand topspin and backspin thank you very much. Two swings making contact at the same point of the ball on the bottom middle where you must hit to drive a ball, a swing planing downwards will create backspin on the ball, a swing planing upwards at the ball will create topspin, and a swing planing roughly flat (maybe slightly upwards) will create little spin in either direction. So the swing that generates grounders will be the same swing that generates backspin, though that swing will very rarely hit the correct part of the ball to hit out of the infield.

    Comment by Corey — September 1, 2011 @ 2:19 am

  68. I think Corey does understand what backspin is, he’s just thinking in terms of how it’s generated in ping pong (or tennis). You cut up for topspin (downspin), and you cut down for backspin.

    The thing is, it’s different in the racket sport than in baseball – first, the racket is in contact with the ball for longer than the bat is, so you have more of a chance to pull and torque the ball. But even more importantly, the way the tool hits the ball is different. To generate backspin, you hit the bottom of the ball – in racket sports, this means holding the racket at an upward angle (the racket is lower closer to the ball, higher farther back), like you do when you cut down. For a topspin swing, cutting up, you have it at a downward angle to hit the top of the ball.

    With a round bat, it’s a little different. You’re not presenting a plane and dragging it through space – you’re bringing the bat to the ball. So you’re actually more likely to hit the top of the ball with a slightly downward swing (topspin), and to hit the bottom of the ball with an upward swing (backspin).

    But wait, there’s more, because the direction of the bat relative to the ball does matter. And, keep the spot constant, a downward swing generates more backspin, and an upward swing more topspin. The two factors – where you hit the ball, and how you hit it – are working against each other.

    CORRECT ME IF I’M WRONG but I think…

    If you can actually manage to hit the bottom of the ball with a downward cut, you get a lot of topspin (and a pop fly). If you hit the top with an upward cut, you get one of those funny bouncers. Those are the spinniest hits you can get.

    The thing is, if you’re making solid contact, you’re probably not doing that. BUT – keeping the launch angle constant, the guy with the more downward swing is gonna have more backspin on the ball. Because he had to hit the ball lower (relative to the launch) to get that angle. So line drive hitters who get slightly under it are going to get that backspin effect.

    Again, this is all theory on what I know of physics and baseball – I’d love to hear from someone who really knows.

    Then there’s hooks and slices, too.

    Comment by DCN — September 1, 2011 @ 2:28 am

  69. Ah, Corey responds.

    But Corey, if you hit bottom middle with a level swing, you’re gonna get some backspin, which can be become significant if you’re hitting hard enough. Enough of Bonds’ swing was level that I’m sure he was getting some backspin when he hit slightly below center with that portion of the swing (others he just hit squarely with the rising portion of the swing and with little spin at all).

    Pujols definitely gets some backspin. Some of Ripken’s home runs came from backspin too. In general, doubles hitters get some backspin taters.

    Comment by DCN — September 1, 2011 @ 2:37 am

  70. Precisely.

    Not all home-runs are created equal: a no-doubter in Oak, SD, of STL is not the same as wrapping one around the pole at Yankee or Fenway. “Power” has to account for flyballs in shallow park fences that would be outs at most other parks.

    Comment by Ryan — September 1, 2011 @ 4:23 am

  71. Measure the intial velocity of the ball off the bat.

    Comment by pounded clown — September 1, 2011 @ 9:08 am

  72. Dear Steve, here’s a link to a preview of the article I submitted, it says that it was last edited today, I didn’t just write it, I just added 2010 wISO numbers for a few players. http://www.fangraphs.com/community/?p=6793&preview=true&preview_id=6793&preview_nonce=49d4745595

    Comment by Ted Williams Head — September 1, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  73. By the way, my numbers are slightly different because I used the linear weights that are listed in “the book” to calculate the stat. (1.24 2B, 1.56 3B, 1.95 HR)

    Comment by Ted Williams Head — September 1, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  74. “. The ball in the left-center gap that gets turned into a double with a speedy guy happens more frequently than the HR example. ”

    you got some data to back up that claim?

    Comment by RC — September 1, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  75. “but I would say he has less actual pop.”

    I would strongly disagree.

    You don’t get a pitch you can put in the stands every at-bat. Most really hard hit balls are the result of mistakes, pitches that end up in the heart of the zone.

    You’re essentially assuming the fact that a guy can take a pitch on the outside half of the plate and turn it into an easy single as being a sign of him having poor power.

    Comment by RC — September 1, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  76. Jim Thome hit triples in Target field. Nuf’ said.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — September 1, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  77. I’ve always wondered why triples have a higher value in wOBA. Usually, a double will clear the bases and a player that is fast enough to hit a triple should make it home on a base hit from second or third alike.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — September 1, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  78. This data *is* being measured because it’s available on HitTrackerOnline.com

    Velocity AND angle are available on that site, but only for Homeruns; so it’s hard to use for anyone but sluggers.

    Using that site, I would argue that Wily Mo Pena is the most powerful hitter in baseball right now. Interestingly, an earlier commenter claimed that Wily Mo Pena was in fact the strongest man playing baseball as well.

    Comment by mcneo — September 1, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  79. @Resolution, aside form IBB, there is also the pitcher that can’t bring himself to put it across the plate to the power hitter and so walks him. It’s hard to say how intentional some walks are.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — September 1, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

  80. It matters if you care about production or, whatever you are interested in. production = moving runners towards home and not getting out. power is moving them faster per PA.

    Think of it this way strikeouts are type of “very, very poorly hit balls.” This is most obvious for foul tips and swinging strikes, but also true for takes.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — September 1, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  81. I wasn’t using a ballpark to make a statistic, but using the extreme to demonstrate that triples really happen, not just misplayed doubles

    Comment by AK707 — September 1, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

  82. i would imagine this is due to the idea that a runner is more likely to score from 3rd when a ball is put in play than he is from 2nd. there are a few cases, like when a ball is hit on the ground to the 2nd baseman that a runner can score from 3rd, but not 2nd base. also, in the case of a sac fly a runner probably won’t score from 2nd, but he could from 3rd.

    Comment by Erik P — September 1, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

  83. I like taking ‘initial velocity’ a little further…If a ball gets to the outfield wall(artificial device to place mo seats somewhere$) in a record time(ie.under 3 seconds)then that is an automatic homer. Most homers lack that ‘bat energy’ but we REWARD anyhow!! When we put up walls w/o amending the rules we really diminished athleticism and rewarded BACKSPIN/OWNERS. Dudes who hit equator of bat /equator of ball with great bat lag and excessive bat weight got jobbed…if they had great arm lag they got jobbed too ’cause they(outfielders) could’ve played deep enough to hold virtually all batted balls to singles. Total distance got trumped by ‘air time’ when the the walls went up… Going forward all lazy fly balls that carry the fence will be called hometrots and all line drives that reach the wall in warp speed will be homeruns, ’cause they would’ve had to RUN if that device wasn’t out there. How much more valuable would Clemente have been if they left athleticism in the game…not to mention more entertaining..can you imagine the thrill of guys going for a double when he was about 400ft. out in right.

    Comment by Elfego — September 1, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  84. look, all this talk of backspin is silly. someone said it already, we’re talking about a round bat on a round ball, which is coming at said round bat from all kinds of goofy angles. nothing in baseball is level or on a fixed plane. the pitcher throws the ball downhill to a batter, who is trying to hit the ball in the air. i might recommend all of you to read ted williams’ book, the science of hitting.

    Comment by Erik P — September 1, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  85. Yeah, DCN, I think you and I are actually on about the same page here, we just describe things differently. My real point was that while I suspect Bonds was able to generate some backspin, its less than if he were swinging down, the spin is not the primary motivating force of ball carry, the batspeed is. So a Jeter who swings down generates a lot less power than Bonds for 2 reasons, one being that Jeter has to miss in order to hit a fly ball while Bonds has to miss to hit a ground ball, the second being that Bonds’ swing is more integrated with the larger muscles in his body so he’s putting a lot more force into the ball. I’ve seen a few players who can occassionally bomb a ball with a downward swing path for precisely this reason, but the margin for error is so tiny that the bulk of their balls get hit on the ground and they don’t show consistent power, the real power hitters swing more level, and often upwards at the ball in order to generate line drives and fly balls.

    All I was really going for with all this was what a lot of other people have brought up, that data on batspeed and ball exit speeds would be tremendously useful and would tell us a lot more about raw power than what we can extrapolate from a box score. I think most marginal differences in ball spin, particularly at the major league level have a pretty negligible effect on power anyway, so I’m not sure why we’re debating spin so intensely.

    Comment by Corey — September 1, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

  86. I’m gong to get myself in more trouble here as I think most of what I’ve said on the topic has been misinterpreted (probably largely my own fault), but that was really my point, spin is not the impetus for power, batspeed is. It’s not an inconsequential point though, because a majority of batting coaches tell their players to swing down on the ball “to create backspin.” You can in fact change spin with your bat angle, which will be more or less constant due to consistency of swing mechanics, my only point was that the mechanic that creates backspin is different than the mechanic that creates power, in other words, “all the talk of spin is silly.”

    Comment by Corey — September 1, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  87. Tim McCarver led the league in triples as a catcher one season.

    I know this doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but as long as everyone is throwing out random triple facts as if they trump the bulk of the data, I wanted to get in on the action.

    Look at the career leaders in triples, we have to go all the way down to Stan Musial to find a player that has more homers than triples.

    We also should notice that triples correlate with stolen bases more than they do with home runs. Could that be because they’re based more on speed than power?

    Is this a real discussion or am I in an alternate universe? I’m cool with either scenario.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — September 1, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  88. Hopefully, I did not miss that I missed it in the comments as I zipped through them. Ron Shandler (Baseball HQ) uses a less sophisticated stat that is similar to the above that he calls linear weighted power. It is ((2b x .8)+(3b x .8)+(HR x 1.4))/(AB-K)x100. This similar to the method above but not as accurate.

    Comment by tripvm — September 1, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  89. Original Life Magazine article: http://books.google.com/books?id=9FMEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA78#v=twopage&q&f=true

    Recent post on subject: http://captnsblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/was-branch-rickey-the-father-of-sabermetrics/

    Comment by Paul — September 1, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

  90. Ok, I think we agree. While I maintain backspin does contribute to homers on line drives that carry, I completely agree that swinging in order to generate backspin is a poor strategy if you’re trying to hit for power. The best power swing is one where full-on contact launches the ball at a slightly upward angle, because that’s how you’re going to get a lot of launch speed on a fly ball.

    Comment by DCN — September 4, 2011 @ 4:24 am

  91. Yeah, spin is something that happens, but it’s not what you’re trying to hit for. You’re trying to make contact and drive the ball one place or another.

    Comment by DCN — September 4, 2011 @ 4:29 am

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