What a .486 ISO Looks Like

Between August 14 and August 17 in 2011, Giancarlo Stanton hit home runs in four consecutive games. One of baseball’s premier true power hitters, Stanton has never put together a longer streak, although in fairness his career is still just beginning. Between September 23 and September 27 in 2011, Adrian Beltre hit home runs in four consecutive games. Beltre is undeniably strong, but he’s never put together a longer streak. Troy Tulowitzki has topped out at four games. Matt Holliday has topped out at four games. Jose Bautista has topped out at four games. Ryan Howard has topped out at four games. Coco Crisp has topped out at four games, but the difference is that his streak is still active.

Five days ago, Crisp went yard off Brad Peacock. Four days ago, he went yard off Bud Norris. Three days ago, he went yard off Lucas Harrell. Yesterday, he went yard off C.J. Wilson. Crisp also has five doubles to his name in the early going, and it all adds up to a .343 average, a .829 slugging percentage, and a .486 ISO. That ISO presently ranks fifth in the league, between Mark Reynolds and Colby Rasmus. Justin Upton and Chris Davis, for the sake of your own curiosity, lead the way.

But this isn’t about those other guys — this is about Crisp, about the guy who came into 2012 with a career ISO of .133. Crisp has never been thought of as weak, so much — he’s popped 16 dingers before, and he’s at 90 for his career — but if you were just going off of the numbers, you’d think that Crisp might be having a breakthrough season at 33. You’d think that maybe Crisp changed his swing or something, to hit the ball with more force and at a greater launch angle. How else to explain such a bizarre data set, even after you consider the effects of a small sample size?

We think of ISO as being a simple measure of a guy’s power. That’s why it’s also referred to as Isolated Power, with “power” right in the name. It’s slugging percentage when you strip away the singles, and power and extra-base hits go hand in hand. The best measure of power would probably be something like strength or batted-ball speed, but ISO is a proxy that even a moron could calculate given guidance and safety scissors. The highest ISOs in baseball history belong to Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds. Powerful folk, those.

So let’s look at Crisp. Crisp already has nine extra-base hits, in 38 plate appearances. How powerful has he been, truly? Has he been hitting the crap out of the ball? Has he been both clearing fences and hitting them? Basically: has Crisp looked like a power hitter, or has he just hit for power?

We’ll look at the doubles in order, and then we’ll look at the dingers in order. Remember: five doubles, and four dingers.

crisp2b_1

Double the first, on April 3. Crisp hit a low line drive that split the gap between the left and center fielders. The ball rolled all the way to the wall and Crisp, of course, has plenty of speed, allowing him to reach second easily. For a fleeting moment there was thought he could try for third. Hit with the same trajectory to a different part of the outfield, this is probably a ringing single.

crisp2b_2

Double the second, on April 5. Crisp hit a low line drive down the right-field line. Down the line is a good place to hit a line drive, because it often means extra bases. In this case, it meant extra bases!

crisp2b_3

Double the third, also on April 5, and in fact in the same inning as the double above. Amazing! Crisp hit a fly ball down the right-field line that Rick Ankiel just couldn’t catch up to. It hung up for long enough that Crisp made it all the way into second. It’s possible a more athletic right fielder would’ve made the catch, but I’m not here to disparage Rick Ankiel. He’s been through enough, and now he’s on the Astros.

crisp2b_4

Double the fourth, on April 6. Crisp hit a slicing line drive over the third baseman and toward the left-field corner. What did we say about line drives down the line? Good speed, easy double.

crisp2b_5

Double the fifth, on April 7. Crisp hit a fly ball to an ideal location in between Justin Maxwell and J.D. Martinez. Maxwell nearly made the catch, but instead the ball just eluded him and Crisp had no trouble stretching. The fly ball came down short of the track, in case you couldn’t tell or in case you weren’t looking.

Now we move on to the home runs.

crisphr_1

Dinger the first, on April 5. Crisp pulled a fly ball just over the right-field fence, just inside of the foul pole. According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, it had a “standard distance” of 345 feet. The league-average home run has a standard distance of 395 feet. The league-average dinger leaves the bat at about 104 miles per hour; this dinger left the bat at about 95 miles per hour. So far, this is tied for the year’s shortest home run.

crisphr_2

Dinger the second, on April 6. Crisp hit a fly ball to the opposite field, into the Crawford Boxes, which are still a feature in a major-league stadium. This one left the bat at about 92 miles per hour, with a standard distance of 333 feet. It gained some distance due to wind, just sneaking past the boundary. The ESPN Home Run Tracker has a neat little stat the tracks how many ballparks, out of 30, a given dinger would’ve left under standard conditions. Under standard conditions, this dinger would’ve left zero ballparks.

crisphr_3

Dinger the third, on April 7. Crisp pulled a fly ball to right field and cleared the wall by a row or two or three. This one left the bat at about 92 miles per hour, with a standard distance of 341 feet. It was very windy, in a favorable way, for the hitters. As Crisp returned to the Oakland dugout, one of the announcers remarked that this wasn’t “a cheapie”. According to that ESPN Home Run Tracker measure, under standard conditions, this ball would’ve left zero ballparks. There have been five such home runs so far in 2013 — one by Jimmy Rollins, two by Robinson Cano, and two by Coco Crisp. By speed off bat, Crisp has the two weakest home runs, the sixth-weakest home run, and the 42nd-weakest home run. (There have been 251 home runs.)

crisphr_4

Dinger the fourth, on April 9. Crisp pulled a fly ball to left field, batting righty. Of Crisp’s four home runs, this is the most “legitimate” — it is the hardest off the bat, by far, and it has the highest standard distance, by far. But we’re talking about a speed of around 99 miles per hour and a distance of 379 feet, and as you can see, Mike Trout came close to bringing the dinger back. I don’t think there’s any such thing as a cheap home run in Anaheim, especially in a night game, but Crisp did his best to try to prove me wrong.

Coco Crisp, right now, owns a .486 ISO, which is the fifth-highest ISO in all of baseball. He owns that ISO thanks to a quintet of doubles and a quartet of dingers, and each of the doubles were somewhat lucky to be doubles, and each of the dingers were somewhat lucky to be dingers. Under other conditions, the dingers could’ve been outs. Under other conditions, the doubles could’ve been outs or singles. It’s hard to imagine a less representative ISO than the one Crisp is presently running.

Which, okay, whatever, I guess we all already knew Crisp hadn’t morphed into some sort of power hitter. In that sense this article is a complete waste of time. But think about it this way: Crisp has proven that he’s capable of a .486 ISO. He’s proven that he’s capable of that because he’s done that for a short period of time. Now imagine a graph, with something not unlike a bell curve, measuring ISO on the horizontal axis. Crisp right now is way, way, way to the right. In keeping with the statistical theme, Crisp is maxing out his error bars. There’s nowhere but down to go from here, but it is a demonstrated possibility that Crisp can perform like one of baseball’s premier power hitters, even if he doesn’t actually look like a power hitter in the act. You don’t always need no-doubters. For a time you can settle for just-enoughs.

Just-enoughs have fueled Crisp to an improbable-but-not-really-improbable .486 ISO. He could just as easily be posting an ISO under .100, given basically the same balls in play. Just think about that for a minute, and then think about it a little more. Then think about baseball. This is a weird game that we watch.




Print This Post



Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

36 Responses to “What a .486 ISO Looks Like”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Dan Rozenson says:

    “In that sense this article is a complete waste of time.”

    No more so than any other statistical analysis based on the first week of play.

    +28 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Tsunamijesus says:

    Crisp hit a few bomb fly outs against the Ms, he’s making the best contact he can, a lot, right now. Then again, he always wears out the warning track against the Ms

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. mrrr says:

    I thought Trout should have caught that one last night. He didn’t take a very good route back to the wall and wasn’t in position to get over the fence. He’s got more hops than that.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Mr Punch says:

    The HRs are striking, of course, but the doubles are a bit notable as well. Crisp, as you say, has always had some pop, and he is (or was) very fast – but except for that one year in Cleveland he’s never really hit a lot of doubles. I’d guess that over his career he has more or less intentionally sacrificed ISO for OBP (as, for example, Lou Brock did).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Jon says:

    This was fun. An even more thorough analysis could include his outs as well. Maybe Crisp has hit some ringing line outs, and some long fly balls that were caught on the track. Just maybe, these were his 9 worst-hit balls of the season. But I doubt it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Tomrigid says:

    You think you’re so goddamn smart. You join up with Johnny Caspar, you bump Bernie Bernbaum. Up is down. Black is white. Well, I think you’re half smart. I think you were straight with your frail, I think you were queer with Johnny Caspar… and I think you’d sooner join a ladies’ league than gun a guy down.

    In other words.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. GT says:

    FREE MATT ADAMS

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. CSJ says:

    According to my Home Run Damage statistic, Crisp’s four home runs are worth a total of -14.51 damage. That’s basically 3.5 standard deviations below the mean for each home run. Three of them are in the bottom 5 this year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Blofkin says:

    Awesome, awesome article Jeff. Perfect timing too, as I asked Dave a question similar to the one you answered in this article. While I certainly had no dreams of Crisp suddenly becoming a power hitter, I was certainly curious if he had changed something in his approach in order to be a different hitter, perhaps to combat the loss in speed with age?

    Seems like he’s not done much other than hit some hard line drives in the right places and gotten just enough of a few fly balls. Still, should be fun to watch this year!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Joe says:

    7/9 vs the Astros

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Choo says:

    “The highest ISOs in baseball history belong to Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds.”

    There is something poetic and very God of War about the ruddy ISO bridge made of massive brachioradialis and latissimus dorsi muscles connecting heaven (Ruth) and hell (Bonds), but I am not Dayn Perry enough to figure it out.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Shlum says:

    Loving the backhanded compliment style from a Mariners writer.

    I bet every single Morse HR has been a no doubter, according to your research at least.

    -21 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. La Flama Blanca says:

    The title looks like a Jeopardy answer to the card “3 games in Houston”

    +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Cgk says:

    Shlum, come on guy. Jeff’s a mariners fan, yes, but Jeff is a mariners fan whose blog’s logo was richie sexson with his face in his hands. Say what you want, but don’t be foolish enough to accuse him of being a homer.

    This is factual evidence to back a claim. If you want to believe Coco Crisp is muscling out missiles, knock yourself out, but he’s not.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • matt w says:

      And here is Morse’s Hittracker page, should you choose to examine it yourself.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Shlum says:

      I enjoy Mr Sullivan’s. But you cannot deny this piece tries just a wee bit harder to discredit a player than normal.

      As a counterpiece, I’d like to see Mr. Sullivan post 10-15 gifs with large discursive chunks demonstrating how much King Felix has benefited from a capacious stadium and the best SS in the majors. Capiche?

      -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jeff says:

        Well, Felix isn’t much a flyball pitcher, but he has talked about it before on Lookout Landing. Does this really try harder? Don’t you remember all the Jeff Francoeur or Fukedome articles from when they had a hot starts? Maybe this is a bit of confirmation bias on your part.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • You have to be kidding. I probably like the A’s more than I like the Mariners right now.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. LionoftheSenate says:

    If you are going to cherry pick lucky hits, you need to also analyze “unlucky” outs. Then see if they are evenly distributed. It’s theoretically possible Crisp has had 50 unlucky outs and he is actually net unlucky.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Dirck says:

    Baseball IS a strange game . Players are very often either much better or much worse than they appear to be at any given time . I discovered this when I started playing fantasy baseball and my success in that endeavor has been largely due to trading with other team owners who believe what their lying eyes are telling them at that moment .It is very similar to succeeding in the stock market by exploiting an inefficiency in the market.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Mike Krukow says:

    so Crisp hit a few balls hard. Anybody is capable of anything. That isn’t news.

    Whats news is if they can do it all year, which, obviously, he will not. You’re right, yknow. Complete waste!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. metsfaninparadise says:

    Baseball IS a funny game, and with the magic of video we can examine very small portions of incredibly large data sets. Seeing a coin land tails 10 times in a row might make it look like that’s the normal result, but we know it isn’t. Similarly, a 35 AB stretch might make almost anyone look like a slugger or a .400 hitter, but we know better. Some may consider it a waste of time but many fans enjoy being presented with baseball’s quirks and head-scratchers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. YourMom says:

    Crisp is one of the best part-time/half season fantasy players around. He has some good skills and could have a really great season one day. Sadly, we will likely never see one because he is even more brittle, and adverse to pain, than the great JD Drew was.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. tahititaco says:

    What about the reverse? Is there any way to find the guys who have hit it to the warning track every time, i.e. “the not-quite-enough non-HR”

    I’m always curious if there’s a way to tell which players have their power sucked away by a big park or which players are getting unlucky over and over again on their HR swings.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Articles like this being fun and interesting are why Fangraphs exist. People need to chill the f out.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. MyrEn says:

    Daniel Nava!!!! Three HR in three games with a .667 ISO!!! GO FOR FOUR!!!!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Manic McReynolds says:

    I would love to see some ball-off-bat speed for those liners–or for hits other than HRs in general.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Jorts says:

    It wasn’t a complete waste of time because I laughed out loud at “but I’m not here to disparage Rick Ankiel. He’s been through enough, and now he’s on the Astros.”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *