A year ago, I discovered how highly correlated a hitter’s average home run and fly ball distance is to his HR/FB rate. Chad Young and I then embarked on a quest to use an assortment of data, including this batted ball distance, to construct an expected HR/FB, or xHR/FB rate, metric. Unfortunately, we failed to find an equation much better than the one that used just distance, of which the R-squared was just 0.54. While this was an excellent start, it simply wasn’t good enough to use in place of plain old HR/FB rate.
Thanks to Jeff Zimmerman, whose Baseball Heat Maps site inspired this quest to be undertaken to begin with, I have been provided with a wealth of additional data. The hope was that it included another piece or set of pieces to the HR/FB rate puzzle.
I began with a player population set that included 4,985 hitter seasons from 2008-2013, which also included pitchers during their times to the plate. In order to prevent the results from being skewed due to the randomness occurring in the smaller samples, I removed all player seasons with fewer than 20 total home runs and fly balls. This left me with a pool of 2,645 ready for analysis.
Let us begin with a correlation table:
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