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  1. Very cool article. Will watch Ackley’s numbers with interest. Seems the next logical step would be to look at his strikeout rate by month to see if there is any effect.

    Comment by futant462 — August 30, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

  2. This is awesome stuff! Is this pitch data publicly available?

    Comment by Matthias — August 30, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  3. Sure enough, his k% is down from ~20-22% to 15%. Taken together with this data it seems that there is some correlation. Unfortunately his BB% has tanked with it from 10% to 3.6%.

    Comment by futant462 — August 30, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  4. I’m not sure his swing is sustainble, for long-term success.

    Comment by John — August 30, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  5. It’s interesting to me that the lefty strike that isn’t is called such so consistently, while in a recent arricle on mlb.com, a person involved with the grading of umpires calling balls and strikes stated that even when closely reviewed,umpires almost never call balls and strikes wrong and quite frequently go entire games without a single incorrect call… It would seem they must be very generous in their grading.

    Comment by Daven — August 30, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  6. It’s such crap that Ackley has been punished so much because he has a better idea of the strike zone than the umpires. I wish they would just start using a live version of pitch fx to call balls and strikes it would be nice to get rid of the arbitray zone and see reality.

    Comment by Average_Casey — August 30, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  7. Sorry, nit-picky correction: “bit obstinate in accepting that, though technically a strike by the book” should probably read “…though technically NOT a strike…”

    Good stuff, though! We’ll see what the pitchers respond with.

    Comment by Noel — August 30, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  8. Sorry, nit-picky correction: “bit obstinate in accepting that, though technically a strike by the book” should probably read “…though technically NOT a strike…”
    Good stuff, though! We’ll see what the pitchers respond with.

    Comment by Noel — August 30, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  9. Also: 1) Speaking as a lefty, looking at the lefty strike zone, I’d like to argue for ROBOTS. Grrr! and 2) I have found a bug in the FanGraphs mobile theme. Please feel free to delete one or both of my previous comments (which the mobile site staunchly told me it couldn’t post – then I popped in via my PC and saw both. D’oh!)

    Comment by Noel — August 30, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  10. Pitch FX technology needs to be developed more before implementation, I think.

    After it is, however…

    Comment by Ruki Motomiya — August 30, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  11. Are these totals in the 300’s including pitches in the actual strike zone and the “lefty” zone? Looks like too many to be just the lefty zone, since he’s only seeing a little more than 400 pitches a month total. Or I might have read it wrong.

    Comment by Patrick — August 30, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  12. Um, neither actually. The rates were all correct but I made a join error in the query and ended up with duplicate counts so the numbers listed were a factor too large. The post has been updated now.

    Comment by Matthew Carruth — August 30, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

  13. The whole “lefty strike zone” thing bugs me no end, but I understand to succeed these guys have to play the game as it’s defined by the officials on the field…

    BTW this may be a dumb question, but – is there a corresponding “righty strike zone”? Or do the umpires cover that side of the plate better because of their typical positioning?

    Comment by Westside guy — August 31, 2012 @ 12:11 am

  14. Very interesting and clearly presented article, and I’m impressed you seem to have figured out this specific issue! I’ve been a fan of Ackley for a couple years and have had him on my fantasy squads the last 2 years, so I’m encouraged and optimistic to see him adjusting and improving, for both real-life and fantasy purposes. I can visualize a future with an electronically monitored strike zone, but I haven’t decided if I’ll like it better or not.

    Comment by King of Diamonds — August 31, 2012 @ 12:17 am

  15. Dave C. put out contact maps for Ackley earlier in the year elsewhere which conform to your analysis of the problem, Matt. While those showed Ackely had a separate problem with going after the high strike (which he had little facility to hit with his swing path), he wasn’t just holding off on the ‘lefty strike’ he was giving away _the entire outer half of the plate_. Opposing pitchers would be crazy NOT to pound him there since he wouldn’t swing, and then having gotten him down in the count they could do with him what they wished. Ackely just didn’t want to swing away, period. And as I recall watching him, there was a reason why: he pulled the pitches I did see him swing at, resulting in weak ground balls. And yes, to my eyes he looked frightfully passive during too many early season ABs.

    Assuming Ackley has made the decision to at least protect the outer part of the plate, that is sure to be a positive. I’ll be convinced he can be an effective major league _hitter_ when he starts to take outside pitches the other way. Ackley’s got a lot of retooling to do to hit major league pitching with authority. His eye at the plate could be a major asset, but we need to see him do something postitive with pitches outside of the sliver of the inside part of the plate where he can turn on a pitch. I’d like to think that we won’t still be debating ‘progress’ for him a year from now, but . . . .

    Comment by Balthazar — August 31, 2012 @ 4:39 am

  16. Propaganda.

    Comment by I Agree Guy — August 31, 2012 @ 8:32 am

  17. remember the article here about a year ago where some writer proclaimed Ackley as >>> Strasburg? You would expect a site like this wouldn’t jump so fast on conclusions by small sample sizes. It’s embarrassing the MSM is better in that regard because they would never have had Ackley better than Strasburg based on 1 half season fluky performance that of course regressed in the future.

    Ironically Ackley might make the playoffs so his value could be higher than a Strasburg shut down in the playoffs.

    Comment by Greg — August 31, 2012 @ 11:13 am

  18. I personally don’t, and don’t care to look it up since you didn’t either, but I assume the writer’s conclusion was not based on “1 half season fluky performance that of course regressed in the future” as you so poorly put it.

    My hunch is that it was based mostly on hitters tending to have more stable value than pitchers and Strasburg being already under the knife for Tommy John surgery and thus likely to cost the Nationals a lot of team-controlled value.

    Not to mention that “of course [Ackley] regressed” is ludicrous

    Comment by Matthew Carruth — August 31, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

  19. Let me get this straight….

    You’re attacking the site’s credibility because they make conclusions based on small sample sizes.

    And you’re basing this on that one time somebody at the site wrote an article about a year ago.

    Comment by DowntownChico — August 31, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  20. What I’m trying to get at is….

    Your sample size = 1
    Population size (# articles on site) = ~ 10,000

    Comment by DowntownChico — August 31, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

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