Quantifying the Trade-Off Between Power and Contact

Victor Martinez has the second-best True Contact percentage,  behind Ichiro Suzuki. (via Keith Allison)

Victor Martinez has the second-best True Contact percentage, behind Ichiro Suzuki. (via Keith Allison)

Intro – Setting the Table

For most hitters, batting is an optimization strategy between power and contact, finding that point where the incremental benefit of harder contact is offset by the incremental cost of less contact. Giancarlo Stanton could potentially be a more productive hitter if he tweaked that balance, sacrificing some of his power for gains in batting average. This might not work so much for Ben Revere on the reverse side, where there is little power upside. Is there a way we can quantify how hard a batter is swinging, from a purely numerical standpoint and give us some insight into which batters are sacrificing contact on the altar of power?

A simple approach would be to simply look at the correlation between contact percentage and isolated slugging, which would reveal a negative relationship (higher contact percentage links to lower ISO and vice versa) and a not insignificant .28 R squared correlation. I would argue that this is likely simply measuring the effect that pitchers will pitch around powerful hitters, thus reducing contact percentage. In other words, it’s only half the story; the real question we should be asking is: given that a power hitter will see pitches farther from the center of the zone than the average hitter, are power hitters making more or less contact than we would expect?

To do this, we’re going to take a four-step approach:

  1. Demonstrate the link between pitcher respect and batter slugging. Use “Distance from the Center of the Zone” as the key respect measure, quantified as feet from center-center.
  2. Demonstrate the extreme link between distance from the center of the zone and whiff percentage (swings and misses/swing), comparing a linear model and an exponential one
  3. Develop a metric, dubbed “True Contact,” which measures a hitters whiff percentage less the expected whiff percentage based on where each pitch was thrown in the zone. For example, if Ben Revere had all his pitches thrown right down the middle, he’d have a huge advantage when it comes to making contact, even if he were swinnging harder.
  4. Demonstrate the link between True Contact and Slugging on Contact, and show that there is little multi co-linearity between this relationship and the distance/power relationship.

Demonstrate the link between pitcher respect and batter slugging

Last year,

Let us begin by looking at the relationship between pitcher respect and SLG on Contact. On the Y-axis we have Distance from the Center (measured in feet) and on the X-axis we have SLG on Contact. All batters who have faced at least 400 pitches (in their career) are included in this analysis, which shows a 0.47 R Squared correlation, when looking at a batter’s entire career.

SLG-Distance Correlation

Joey Gallo stands out for both having prodigious power and clearly being pitched around more than any other hitter. Miguel Sano, while actually doing more with his contact, is perhaps forcing pitchers to pitch closer to the center of the zone due to his other elite skill. Who in the world is Mikie Mahtook? The latest, greatest example of SSS noise, where a roughly league average minor league player can put up a 168 WRC+ in 115 plate appearances (based on some other research I’m doing he did have the fly ball + HR distance to back it up, so maybe he’s a fantasy sleeper).

When we browse through the names that are displayed, we see at the top of the distance axis guys who have a lot of power and at the bottom a lot of pitchers. Free swingers such as Pablo Sandoval and Josh Hamilton are well above the trend line, suggesting pitchers are taking advantage and throwing them a lot of bad pitches. Chris Carter is below the trend line, which might suggest that pitchers feel confident that there are enough holes in his swing, or his patient approach is forcing pitchers to throw closer to the middle. I can’t explain why David Ortiz is in the same spot as Josh Hamilton; that does seem odd to me.

It is important to note that this relationship does exist in season as well, but is not as strongly, with a 0.28 R squared.

SLG-Distance Correlation in Season

Interestingly, this relationship maintains its predictive power when predicting SLGContact in the following year, with a similar distribution and an R Squared of 0.27:

SLG-Distance Correlation next Season

So, essentially, we’ve re-performed prior research that confirms that there is a strong relationship between how a pitcher approaches a hitter and the quality of contact that hitter produces, which is hardly ground-breaking news. This brings us to the second piece of the puzzle and another relationship that is well known, specifically the probability of a whiff, based solely on how far from the center of the zone a pitch is.

Demonstrate the extreme link between distance from the center of the zone and whiff percentage

I’m going to share two pictures, both showing whiff percentage graphed against distance from the center of the zone, as measured in feet. On top, you’ll see the linear trend line and on the bottom you’ll see the exponential trend line. Using a basic linear model we get a very strong relationship of 0.9, with the exponential model we get an almost perfect model.

Linear ModelExp Model Given how neatly the model fit the exponential curve (and without any advanced stats knowledge telling me that I’m over-fitting) I decided to use the exponential model to create an xSwStr% (expected swinging strike percentage) for each pitch based on its distance from the center of the zone. The formula, in case you were wondering, is xSwStr% = -.114*D4+0.478*D3-.415*D2+.16*D+ 0.093.

Develop a metric, dubbed “True Contact,” which measures a hitter’s whiff percentage less the expected whiff percentage

The table below gives metrics for all batters who have swung at at least 1,000 pitches in their career. Remember that the distance and whiff percentage metrics here are only on swings, not takes. A higher distance from center indicates the batter is swinging at more pitches farther away from the center of the zone (less selective).

TRUE CONTACT
Batter Name Dist. from Center Whiff% xSwing and Miss% True Contact SLGContact
1 Ichiro Suzuki 0.9172 11.8% 23.4%  11.6% 0.416
2 Victor Martinez 0.8911 11.1% 21.9%  10.8% 0.509
3 Cesar Izturis 0.8476 10.3% 21.0%  10.8% 0.326
4 Marco Scutaro 0.7255  6.7% 17.4%  10.7% 0.423
5 Jeff Keppinger 0.7758  8.1% 18.8%  10.7% 0.397
6 Ben Revere 0.8006  9.2% 19.6%  10.4% 0.381
7 Jose Iglesias  0.898 12.8% 23.3%  10.4% 0.415
8 Martin Prado 0.8514 10.9% 21.3%  10.3% 0.475
9 Erick Aybar 0.9037 13.0% 23.1%  10.1% 0.424
10 Michael Brantley 0.7995  9.5% 19.4%   9.9% 0.469
11 A.J. Pierzynski 0.9735 15.3% 25.1%   9.8% 0.468
12 Steve Lombardozzi 0.8656 12.3% 22.0%   9.7% 0.378
13 Shane Victorino   0.93 14.2% 23.7%   9.5% 0.488
14 Jose Altuve 0.8409 11.8% 21.2%   9.4%  0.46
15 Salvador Perez 0.9543 15.3% 24.7%   9.4% 0.493
16 Melky Cabrera 0.9006 13.3% 22.6%   9.3% 0.474
17 Maicer Izturis 0.8503 11.7% 21.0%   9.3% 0.405
18 Ryan Sweeney 0.8869 12.9% 22.2%   9.2% 0.448
19 James Loney 0.8901 13.1% 22.2%   9.1% 0.452
20 Daniel Murphy 0.8711 12.5% 21.6%   9.1% 0.481
21 Darwin Barney 0.8148 11.2% 20.1%   9.0% 0.379
22 Alberto Callaspo 0.7908 10.3% 19.1%   8.9% 0.405
23 Casey Kotchman 0.8575 12.4% 21.3%   8.9% 0.417
24 Ender Inciarte  0.873 12.8% 21.7%   8.9% 0.429
25 Yangervis Solarte 0.8644 12.6% 21.5%   8.9% 0.444
26 Denard Span 0.7717  9.7% 18.6%   8.8% 0.444
27 Nori Aoki 0.7851 10.3% 19.0%   8.7% 0.415
28 Eric Sogard 0.8091 10.9% 19.6%   8.7% 0.357
29 Dustin Pedroia 0.8041 11.5% 19.9%   8.4% 0.492
30 Robinson Cano  0.922 14.9% 23.3%   8.4% 0.566
31 Ryan Theriot 0.7805 10.6% 19.1%   8.4% 0.382
32 Nick Markakis  0.846 12.6% 21.0%   8.3% 0.483
33 Brayan Pena 0.8597 12.7% 21.1%   8.3% 0.393
34 Endy Chavez 0.8982 14.7% 23.1%   8.3% 0.381
35 Dee Gordon 0.8909 14.5% 22.6%   8.1% 0.436
36 J.B. Shuck  0.828 12.3% 20.4%   8.1% 0.369
37 Emmanuel Burriss 0.8684 14.2% 22.2%   8.0% 0.307
38 Angel Pagan 0.8354 12.8% 20.6%   7.9%  0.47
39 Jose Reyes 0.8734 13.9% 21.7%   7.8% 0.479
40 Joaquin Arias 0.9217 16.4% 23.9%   7.5% 0.396
41 Jonathan Lucroy 0.8717 14.8% 22.2%   7.4% 0.501
42 Ian Kinsler 0.7923 12.0% 19.4%   7.4% 0.503
43 Pablo Sandoval 1.0026 18.8% 26.2%   7.4% 0.522
44 Alexi Casilla 0.8671 14.4% 21.8%   7.4% 0.382
45 Andrelton Simmons 0.8205 13.3% 20.6%   7.3% 0.398
46 Rafael Furcal 0.7975 12.2% 19.5%   7.3% 0.448
47 Ryan Hanigan 0.7549 11.1% 18.3%   7.3% 0.385
48 Alexei Ramirez 0.9112 16.3% 23.4%   7.0% 0.446
49 Chase Utley 0.9006 15.5% 22.5%   7.0% 0.531
50 Jimmy Rollins 0.8506 13.7% 20.7%   6.9% 0.452
51 Ramon Santiago 0.8179 13.3% 20.1%   6.9% 0.395
52 Jason Bourgeois 0.8133 13.0% 19.8%   6.8%  0.37
53 Jose Ramirez  0.817 13.3% 20.1%   6.8% 0.381
54 Yadier Molina 0.8389 14.2% 20.9%   6.7% 0.452
55 Kevin Frandsen 0.8494 14.3% 21.0%   6.7% 0.375
56 Skip Schumaker 0.8576 14.7% 21.2%   6.6% 0.418
57 Eduardo Nunez 0.8649 15.0% 21.6%   6.6%  0.44
58 Joe Panik 0.7949 12.7% 19.3%   6.6% 0.467
59 Jacoby Ellsbury 0.8343 14.0% 20.5%   6.5% 0.489
60 Albert Pujols 0.8671 15.2% 21.7%   6.5% 0.607
61 Joe Mauer 0.8405 14.2% 20.7%   6.5%  0.52
62 Alexi Amarista  0.895 16.4% 22.7%   6.3% 0.375
63 Don Kelly  0.858 15.0% 21.3%   6.3% 0.395
64 Brian McCann 0.9233 17.2% 23.4%   6.2% 0.545
65 Brian Roberts 0.8022 13.2% 19.4%   6.1% 0.481
66 Charlie Blackmon 0.8999 16.4% 22.6%   6.1% 0.516
67 David DeJesus 0.8157 13.7% 19.9%   6.1% 0.485
68 Stephen Vogt 0.9033 16.4% 22.6%   6.1% 0.508
69 Kurt Suzuki 0.7946 13.4% 19.5%   6.0% 0.412
70 Sam Fuld 0.7892 13.2% 19.2%   6.0% 0.382
71 Wilmer Flores 0.8509 15.4% 21.3%   6.0% 0.444
72 Jean Segura 0.8809 16.3% 22.2%   5.9% 0.417
73 Jemile Weeks  0.804 13.7% 19.6%   5.9% 0.415
74 Alberto Gonzalez  0.877 16.0% 21.8%   5.8% 0.357
75 David Murphy 0.8894 16.5% 22.3%   5.8% 0.503
76 Jordan Pacheco 0.8308 14.7% 20.6%   5.8% 0.429
77 Adam Eaton 0.8372 15.3% 21.0%   5.7% 0.491
78 Brock Holt 0.8269 14.9% 20.6%   5.7% 0.452
79 Chad Tracy  0.907 17.2% 22.9%   5.7% 0.462
80 Jack Wilson 0.8415 15.4% 21.0%   5.6% 0.367
81 Mike Aviles  0.851 15.6% 21.1%   5.6% 0.436
82 Nyjer Morgan  0.887 16.8% 22.3%   5.5% 0.422
83 Scooter Gennett 0.9081 17.5% 22.8%   5.4% 0.502
84 Omar Infante 0.8244 15.2% 20.5%   5.3% 0.435
85 Adrian Beltre 0.9219 18.3% 23.5%   5.3% 0.569
86 Mookie Betts 0.8016 14.7% 20.0%   5.3% 0.542
87 Carlos Ruiz 0.7745 13.5% 18.8%   5.3% 0.446
88 Dioner Navarro 0.8649 16.0% 21.3%   5.3% 0.439
89 Jonathan Herrera 0.8429 14.3% 19.6%   5.3% 0.378
90 Nick Punto 0.7818 13.5% 18.8%   5.3% 0.394
91 Willie Bloomquist 0.8394 15.5% 20.8%   5.3%  0.41
92 J.J. Hardy 0.8576 16.4% 21.6%   5.2% 0.485
93 Neil Walker 0.9241 18.4% 23.5%   5.1% 0.525
94 Elvis Andrus 0.7909 14.0% 19.1%   5.1% 0.393
95 DJ LeMahieu 0.8524 16.2% 21.3%   5.1% 0.443
96 Brett Gardner 0.8018 14.4% 19.6%   5.1% 0.487
97 John McDonald 0.8293 15.2% 20.3%   5.1% 0.378
98 Julio Borbon 0.9174 16.6% 21.7%   5.1% 0.398
99 Jon Jay 0.8789 16.8% 21.8%   5.0% 0.453
100 Josh Thole 0.8172 14.5% 19.3%   4.9% 0.365
101 Juan Rivera 0.8551 16.4% 21.3%   4.9% 0.473
102 Alex Rios  0.869 16.9% 21.7%   4.8% 0.504
103 Adam Kennedy 0.8376 16.1% 20.9%   4.8% 0.428
104 Troy Tulowitzki 0.8691 17.1% 21.9%   4.8% 0.623
105 Buster Posey 0.8264 15.7% 20.5%   4.7% 0.552
106 Marwin Gonzalez 0.9335 19.4% 24.1%   4.7% 0.462
107 Chone Figgins 0.7535 13.6% 18.2%   4.6% 0.382
108 Justin Turner 0.8024 15.2% 19.8%   4.6% 0.498
109 Nate McLouth 0.8035 15.0% 19.6%   4.5% 0.488
110 Freddy Galvis 0.9299 19.1% 23.6%   4.5% 0.428
111 Munenori Kawasaki 0.7878 14.6% 19.1%   4.5% 0.332
112 Rougned Odor 0.9016 18.2% 22.7%   4.5% 0.521
113 Tony Gwynn Jr. 0.7825 14.6% 19.1%   4.5% 0.369
114 Lonnie Chisenhall 0.9076 18.8% 23.1%   4.3% 0.505
115 Alcides Escobar 0.8632 17.3% 21.6%   4.3%  0.39
116 Jordy Mercer 0.8786 18.1% 22.4%   4.3% 0.453
117 Nolan Arenado 0.9301 19.4% 23.6%   4.2% 0.584
118 Coco Crisp 0.7796 14.6% 18.8%   4.2% 0.451
119 Matt Carpenter 0.8053 15.9% 19.9%   4.0% 0.555
120 Kevin Pillar 0.9328 20.1% 24.0%   3.9% 0.466
121 A.J. Pollock 0.8439 17.3% 21.2%   3.9% 0.546
122 Starlin Castro 0.8867 18.8% 22.6%   3.9%  0.48
123 Carlos Beltran 0.8809 18.0% 21.9%   3.9% 0.578
124 Trevor Crowe 0.8686 17.8% 21.7%   3.9% 0.393
125 Anthony Rendon 0.7697 15.2% 19.0%   3.7% 0.514
126 Justin Morneau 0.9182 19.8% 23.5%   3.7% 0.559
127 Chris Stewart 0.7853 15.7% 19.5%   3.7% 0.353
128 Dustin Ackley 0.8345 16.8% 20.4%   3.6% 0.458
129 Johnny Giavotella 0.7803 15.4% 19.1%   3.6% 0.409
130 Matt Duffy 0.8714 18.3% 21.8%   3.5%   0.5
131 David Lough 0.8917 19.1% 22.6%   3.5% 0.447
132 Adeiny Hechavarria 0.8522 18.0% 21.4%   3.4% 0.408
133 Eric Hosmer 0.9211 20.0% 23.4%   3.4% 0.511
134 Ramiro Pena 0.9416 19.5% 22.9%   3.4%   0.4
135 Gerardo Parra 0.9076 19.7% 23.0%   3.3% 0.486
136 Carl Crawford 0.8897 19.0% 22.3%   3.3% 0.516
137 Aaron Hill  0.807 16.5% 19.9%   3.3% 0.496
138 Ryan Goins 0.9169 20.0% 23.3%   3.3% 0.408
139 Shane Robinson 0.8043 16.5% 19.8%   3.3% 0.364
140 Gregory Polanco 0.9604 21.5% 24.7%   3.2% 0.462
141 Andres Blanco 0.8848 18.7% 21.9%   3.2%  0.47
142 Greg Dobbs 0.9194 20.1% 23.3%   3.2% 0.456
143 Anthony Rizzo 0.9632 22.0% 25.1%   3.1% 0.585
144 Zack Cozart 0.8095 16.8% 19.9%   3.1% 0.444
145 Gaby Sanchez 0.8482 18.1% 21.2%   3.0% 0.497
146 Billy Butler 0.8477 18.2% 21.2%   3.0% 0.522
147 Adam Lind  0.922 20.4% 23.5%   3.0% 0.584
148 Alex Presley 0.8261 17.3% 20.3%   3.0% 0.486
149 Donovan Solano 0.8339 17.4% 20.4%   3.0% 0.393
150 Paul Janish  0.766 15.7% 18.8%   3.0% 0.339
151 Jed Lowrie 0.7886 16.3% 19.2%   2.9%  0.49
152 Josh Harrison 0.8827 19.5% 22.4%   2.9% 0.481
153 Mike Moustakas 0.9096 19.0% 21.9%   2.9% 0.476
154 Ryan Braun  0.944 21.5% 24.3%   2.8% 0.663
155 Yunel Escobar 0.7781 16.2% 19.0%   2.8% 0.426
156 Ramon Hernandez 0.8163 17.4% 20.1%   2.7% 0.461
157 Logan Schafer 0.8692 19.2% 21.8%   2.6% 0.384
158 Ryan Zimmerman 0.9059 20.7% 23.2%   2.5% 0.587
159 Jarrod Dyson  0.771 16.3% 18.8%   2.5% 0.417
160 Matt Adams 1.0075 23.5% 25.9%   2.4% 0.587
161 Conor Gillaspie 0.8501 18.6% 21.0%   2.4% 0.469
162 Juan Lagares 0.8749 20.1% 22.5%   2.4% 0.455
163 Matt Wieters 0.9272 21.2% 23.5%   2.3% 0.526
164 Matt Dominguez 0.8736 19.6% 21.9%   2.3% 0.457
165 C.J. Cron 0.9759 22.8% 25.1%   2.3% 0.573
166 Josh Wilson 0.8818 20.2% 22.5%   2.3% 0.404
167 Michael Cuddyer 0.9031 20.9% 23.1%   2.2% 0.573
168 Manny Machado  0.881 20.2% 22.4%   2.2% 0.548
169 Kyle Seager 0.8406 18.4% 20.6%   2.2% 0.526
170 Mitch Maier 0.8595 18.8% 21.0%   2.2% 0.435
171 Nate Schierholtz 0.9086 20.8% 23.0%   2.2% 0.494
172 Casey McGehee 0.8387 18.4% 20.5%   2.1% 0.471
173 John Jaso 0.8112 17.7% 19.7%   2.1% 0.482
174 Logan Morrison 0.8497 18.9% 21.0%   2.1% 0.512
175 Kolten Wong 0.8639 19.4% 21.4%   2.0% 0.448
176 Asdrubal Cabrera 0.8492 18.8% 20.8%   2.0% 0.498
177 Daniel Nava 0.8015 17.4% 19.4%   2.0% 0.486
178 Jeff Francoeur 0.9439 22.4% 24.3%   1.9% 0.488
179 Hanley Ramirez 0.8686 19.7% 21.6%   1.9% 0.593
180 Jason Bartlett 0.7967 17.8% 19.6%   1.9% 0.436
181 Daric Barton 0.7311 15.5% 17.2%   1.7% 0.429
182 Mark Teixeira 0.8534 19.1% 20.8%   1.7% 0.616
183 Andre Ethier 0.8752 20.3% 21.9%   1.7% 0.573
184 Yonder Alonso  0.825 18.4% 20.2%   1.7% 0.462
185 A.J. Ellis 0.7604 17.1% 18.8%   1.7% 0.441
186 Jose Tabata 0.8191 18.3% 20.0%   1.7%  0.44
187 Ronny Cedeno 0.8686 20.2% 21.9%   1.7% 0.446
188 Ronny Paulino 0.7898 18.1% 19.8%   1.7% 0.433
189 Miguel Cabrera 0.9072 21.4% 23.0%   1.6% 0.689
190 Alex Gonzalez 0.9194 22.0% 23.5%   1.6% 0.472
191 Andy Dirks 0.8529 19.6% 21.2%   1.6% 0.491
192 Pedro Ciriaco 0.9784 23.8% 25.4%   1.6% 0.451
193 Aramis Ramirez 0.8823 20.2% 21.7%   1.5% 0.564
194 Brennan Boesch 0.9312 22.1% 23.6%   1.5% 0.505
195 Ruben Tejada 0.7634 17.1% 18.6%   1.5%  0.38
196 Billy Hamilton 0.8364 19.0% 20.4%   1.4% 0.398
197 Josh Reddick 0.8513 19.7% 21.1%   1.4% 0.535
198 Howie Kendrick 0.8766 20.9% 22.1%   1.3%  0.51
199 Brian Dozier 0.8287 19.0% 20.4%   1.3% 0.515
200 Lorenzo Cain 0.8956 21.3% 22.5%   1.2% 0.522
201 Cliff Pennington  0.799 18.1% 19.3%   1.2% 0.421
202 Gerald Laird 0.7852 18.0% 19.2%   1.2% 0.403
203 Rajai Davis 0.8682 20.5% 21.7%   1.2% 0.472
204 Chris Coghlan 0.8217 19.2% 20.2%   1.0% 0.504
205 Logan Forsythe 0.7893 18.6% 19.4%   0.9% 0.474
206 Clint Barmes 0.8862 21.4% 22.3%   0.9% 0.468
207 Corey Dickerson 0.9682 24.4% 25.2%   0.9% 0.688
208 Gregor Blanco 0.7699 17.6% 18.5%   0.9% 0.441
209 Adrian Gonzalez 0.9092 21.9% 22.7%   0.8%  0.61
210 Allen Craig 0.8299 19.8% 20.6%   0.8% 0.547
211 Jason Kipnis 0.7969 18.7% 19.3%   0.7%  0.51
212 Brandon Phillips 0.8522 20.5% 21.2%   0.7% 0.484
213 Mike Trout 0.8612 21.0% 21.6%   0.7% 0.746
214 Edwin Encarnacion 0.8197 19.3% 20.0%   0.7% 0.605
215 Craig Gentry  0.775 18.2% 18.9%   0.7% 0.412
216 Drew Butera 0.7818 18.5% 19.2%   0.7% 0.328
217 Pete Kozma 0.7768 18.5% 19.2%   0.7% 0.371
218 Jesus Montero 0.9453 24.3% 24.9%   0.6% 0.497
219 Eduardo Escobar 0.8534 20.8% 21.4%   0.6% 0.489
220 Jason Heyward  0.897 22.0% 22.5%   0.5% 0.542
221 David Peralta 0.9445 23.8% 24.3%   0.5% 0.613
222 Stephen Drew 0.8275 19.8% 20.2%   0.4% 0.529
223 Brendan Harris 0.7967 19.1% 19.5%   0.4% 0.445
224 Reed Johnson 0.9173 23.1% 23.6%   0.4% 0.502
225 Prince Fielder 0.9051 22.6% 22.9%   0.3% 0.621
226 Domonic Brown 0.8859 21.8% 22.1%   0.3% 0.498
227 Jayson Werth  0.863 21.6% 21.8%   0.3%  0.62
228 Andy LaRoche 0.8197 19.7% 20.0%   0.3%   0.4
229 Gordon Beckham 0.8158 19.8% 20.0%   0.2% 0.445
230 Emilio Bonifacio 0.8521 21.0% 21.3%   0.2% 0.426
231 Everth Cabrera 0.8284 20.0% 20.2%   0.2% 0.414
232 Ezequiel Carrera 0.8413 20.8% 20.9%   0.2% 0.432
233 Mike Fontenot  0.811 19.5% 19.7%   0.2% 0.498
234 Xander Bogaerts 0.8649 22.0% 22.0%   0.1% 0.489
235 Ben Francisco 0.8137 20.0% 20.0%   0.0%  0.51
236 Tony Cruz 0.8179 20.5% 20.5%   0.0%  0.38
237 Grady Sizemore 0.8346 20.6% 20.5%  -0.1% 0.549
238 Kendrys Morales 0.9159 23.3% 23.2%  -0.1% 0.579
239 Brett Lawrie 0.8495 21.4% 21.3%  -0.1%  0.52
240 Chris Parmelee 0.8603 21.7% 21.5%  -0.2% 0.531
241 Robert Andino 0.8166 20.2% 20.1%  -0.2%  0.41
242 Matt Holliday 0.8939 22.9% 22.6%  -0.3% 0.608
243 Brendan Ryan 0.8369 21.4% 21.0%  -0.3% 0.369
244 Francisco Cervelli 0.7563 18.7% 18.3%  -0.3% 0.474
245 Jeremy Hermida 0.8969 22.8% 22.4%  -0.4% 0.527
246 John Baker 0.8438 21.3% 20.9%  -0.4% 0.444
247 Dewayne Wise 0.9092 23.4% 22.9%  -0.5% 0.507
248 Willie Harris 0.7751 19.3% 18.8%  -0.5% 0.467
249 Ben Zobrist  0.848 16.2% 15.5%  -0.6% 0.526
250 David Wright 0.8035 20.2% 19.6%  -0.6% 0.597
251 Jose Bautista 0.8123 20.4% 19.8%  -0.6% 0.649
252 David Ortiz 0.8663 21.8% 21.3%  -0.6% 0.655
253 Danny Valencia 0.8845 23.0% 22.4%  -0.6% 0.527
254 Kevin Kiermaier 0.8487 21.7% 21.0%  -0.6%  0.53
255 Ryan Doumit 0.8964 22.6% 22.0%  -0.6% 0.527
256 Wil Nieves 0.8778 23.0% 22.5%  -0.6% 0.399
257 Garrett Jones 0.9378 24.3% 23.6%  -0.8% 0.575
258 Yoenis Cespedes  0.932 25.1% 24.0%  -1.1% 0.619
259 Jose Abreu 0.9804 26.7% 25.7%  -1.1% 0.699
260 Adam Jones 0.9694 26.3% 25.2%  -1.1% 0.577
261 Alejandro De Aza 0.8311 21.9% 20.8%  -1.1% 0.528
262 Adam LaRoche 0.9069 23.7% 22.6%  -1.1% 0.597
263 Chris Owings 0.8709 23.6% 22.5%  -1.1% 0.461
264 Chris Denorfia 0.8296 21.6% 20.5%  -1.1% 0.476
265 Brent Morel 0.8141 21.4% 20.1%  -1.3%   0.4
266 Caleb Joseph 0.8791 23.4% 22.1%  -1.3% 0.486
267 Ed Lucas 0.8386 21.8% 20.5%  -1.3% 0.416
268 Josh Rutledge 0.8529 22.7% 21.4%  -1.3%  0.51
269 Delmon Young 0.9128 24.6% 23.3%  -1.4% 0.513
270 Andy Marte 0.7826 20.7% 19.3%  -1.4% 0.441
271 Daniel Descalso 0.8088 21.1% 19.8%  -1.4% 0.414
272 Wilson Ramos 0.8515 22.6% 21.3%  -1.4% 0.497
273 Yorvit Torrealba 0.8193 21.6% 20.2%  -1.4% 0.442
274 Brandon Guyer 0.8478 22.7% 21.2%  -1.5% 0.474
275 Laynce Nix 0.9383 25.4% 23.9%  -1.5%  0.58
276 Andrew Romine 0.8327 22.5% 20.9%  -1.6% 0.363
277 Omar Quintanilla 0.8123 21.4% 19.8%  -1.6% 0.392
278 Evan Gattis 0.9484 25.9% 24.3%  -1.7% 0.613
279 Hunter Pence 0.8991 24.7% 22.9%  -1.7% 0.576
280 Derek Dietrich 0.8786 23.6% 21.8%  -1.7% 0.559
281 Xavier Nady 0.8698 23.7% 21.8%  -1.8% 0.528
282 Seth Smith 0.8684 23.5% 21.7%  -1.8% 0.569
283 Odubel Herrera 0.9207 25.5% 23.7%  -1.8% 0.556
284 Juan Uribe 0.8639 23.6% 21.8%  -1.8% 0.512
285 Travis d’Arnaud 0.7783 20.9% 19.1%  -1.8% 0.508
286 Didi Gregorius 0.8569 23.1% 21.2%  -1.9% 0.439
287 Mike Jacobs 0.9625 26.5% 24.6%  -1.9% 0.621
288 Jhonny Peralta 0.8411 22.5% 20.7%  -1.9% 0.526
289 Torii Hunter 0.8689 23.5% 21.6%  -1.9% 0.559
290 Trevor Plouffe 0.8025 21.7% 19.8%  -1.9% 0.534
291 Brad Miller 0.8532 23.3% 21.4%  -1.9% 0.494
292 Leonys Martin 0.8814 24.0% 22.1%  -2.0% 0.453
293 Andres Torres 0.8625 23.3% 21.4%  -2.0% 0.523
294 Mitch Moreland 0.8936 24.4% 22.4%  -2.0% 0.567
295 Luis Valbuena 0.8072 21.8% 19.7%  -2.1%  0.49
296 Bobby Wilson 0.8301 21.7% 19.6%  -2.1% 0.365
297 Danny Santana 0.8878 24.6% 22.5%  -2.1% 0.524
298 Lucas Duda 0.9227 25.7% 23.6%  -2.1% 0.615
299 Roger Bernadina 0.8533 23.2% 21.1%  -2.1% 0.456
300 Evan Longoria 0.8709 24.0% 21.8%  -2.2% 0.617
301 Cody Ross 0.8328 22.8% 20.6%  -2.2% 0.559
302 Austin Jackson 0.8033 22.1% 19.9%  -2.2% 0.528
303 Carlos Santana 0.8025 21.5% 19.3%  -2.3% 0.543
304 Aaron Hicks  0.788 21.5% 19.2%  -2.3% 0.455
305 Chris Nelson 0.8434 23.5% 21.2%  -2.3% 0.506
306 Matt Treanor  0.802 22.4% 20.1%  -2.3% 0.369
307 Christian Yelich 0.8107 22.1% 19.7%  -2.4% 0.527
308 Freddie Freeman  0.896 24.6% 22.2%  -2.4% 0.604
309 Ike Davis 0.8745 24.6% 22.2%  -2.4% 0.553
310 Jayson Nix 0.8444 23.4% 21.0%  -2.4% 0.468
311 Russell Martin 0.7565 20.8% 18.3%  -2.5% 0.483
312 Will Venable 0.9335 26.1% 23.6%  -2.5% 0.544
313 Travis Buck 0.8504 23.4% 20.9%  -2.5%  0.46
314 Derek Norris 0.7784 21.7% 19.1%  -2.6% 0.528
315 Michael Bourn 0.8004 22.2% 19.6%  -2.6% 0.456
316 Kevin Kouzmanoff 0.8439 23.5% 20.9%  -2.6% 0.512
317 Humberto Quintero  0.885 25.0% 22.4%  -2.6% 0.417
318 Robinson Chirinos 0.7853 21.8% 19.2%  -2.6% 0.524
319 Travis Ishikawa 0.9201 25.9% 23.3%  -2.6% 0.524
320 Joey Votto 0.8229 23.0% 20.3%  -2.7% 0.682
321 Desmond Jennings 0.7805 22.1% 19.2%  -2.9% 0.503
322 Bryan LaHair 0.9709 27.9% 25.0%  -2.9% 0.646
323 Erik Kratz 0.8984 25.6% 22.8%  -2.9% 0.499
324 Ryan Roberts  0.755 21.1% 18.2%  -2.9% 0.487
325 Carlos Gomez 0.9003 26.1% 23.1%  -3.0%  0.55
326 Marlon Byrd 0.8781 25.1% 22.1%  -3.0% 0.568
327 Cesar Hernandez  0.811 22.8% 19.8%  -3.0% 0.419
328 Alex Gordon 0.8169 23.0% 19.9%  -3.1% 0.564
329 Dayan Viciedo 0.8962 25.9% 22.9%  -3.1% 0.546
330 Eric Young Jr. 0.7707 21.5% 18.4%  -3.1% 0.397
331 Cody Asche 0.8767 25.5% 22.4%  -3.1% 0.526
332 Hank Conger 0.8596 24.6% 21.4%  -3.1% 0.493
333 Lou Marson 0.7239 20.5% 17.4%  -3.1%  0.39
334 Andrew McCutchen 0.7771 21.8% 18.6%  -3.2%  0.61
335 David Freese 0.8509 24.2% 21.0%  -3.2% 0.546
336 Ian Desmond  0.876 25.4% 22.2%  -3.2% 0.556
337 Reid Brignac 0.9029 25.9% 22.7%  -3.2% 0.423
338 Scott Hairston 0.8476 24.2% 20.9%  -3.2% 0.569
339 Welington Castillo 0.8461 24.3% 21.1%  -3.2% 0.563
340 Jeff Baker  0.858 24.6% 21.4%  -3.3% 0.568
341 Justin Smoak 0.8665 24.8% 21.5%  -3.3% 0.522
342 Jace Peterson 0.8248 23.6% 20.2%  -3.4% 0.402
343 Jason Kubel 0.8438 24.3% 20.9%  -3.4% 0.597
344 Kelly Johnson 0.8729 25.1% 21.7%  -3.4% 0.558
345 Wilson Betemit 0.9255 27.1% 23.7%  -3.4% 0.625
346 Yan Gomes 0.8603 24.9% 21.5%  -3.4% 0.585
347 Yasmani Grandal 0.8314 23.6% 20.2%  -3.4% 0.541
348 Todd Frazier 0.9016 26.3% 22.7%  -3.5% 0.597
349 Franklin Gutierrez 0.8225 23.5% 20.1%  -3.5% 0.508
350 Carlos Quentin 0.8171 23.6% 20.1%  -3.5% 0.593
351 Robbie Grossman 0.7744 22.3% 18.8%  -3.5% 0.468
352 Ryan Flaherty 0.9046 26.3% 22.7%  -3.5%  0.49
353 Marcus Semien 0.8194 24.0% 20.4%  -3.6% 0.532
354 Dexter Fowler 0.8045 23.1% 19.5%  -3.6% 0.552
355 Curtis Granderson 0.8335 24.0% 20.4%  -3.6% 0.625
356 Starling Marte 0.9133 27.0% 23.4%  -3.6% 0.585
357 John Mayberry Jr. 0.8596 24.8% 21.3%  -3.6% 0.561
358 Xavier Paul 0.8585 25.1% 21.5%  -3.6% 0.472
359 Miguel Montero  0.858 24.9% 21.2%  -3.7% 0.544
360 Adam Rosales 0.8076 23.7% 20.0%  -3.7% 0.438
361 Wil Myers 0.8656 26.0% 22.2%  -3.7%  0.55
362 Chris Young 0.8001 23.7% 19.9%  -3.8% 0.554
363 Mike Carp  0.874 25.6% 21.8%  -3.8% 0.563
364 Travis Hafner 0.8444 24.5% 20.7%  -3.8% 0.557
365 Carlos Gonzalez 0.9347 27.7% 23.8%  -3.9% 0.683
366 Martin Maldonado 0.8262 24.6% 20.7%  -3.9% 0.458
367 Colby Rasmus 0.9079 27.0% 23.0%  -4.0% 0.616
368 Elian Herrera  0.833 24.7% 20.7%  -4.0% 0.483
369 Travis Snider 0.8625 25.5% 21.5%  -4.0% 0.546
370 Ty Wigginton 0.8132 24.1% 20.1%  -4.1% 0.517
371 Ryan Ludwick 0.8598 25.7% 21.6%  -4.1%  0.59
372 Chris Johnson 0.9188 27.6% 23.5%  -4.1% 0.552
373 Devin Mesoraco 0.8357 24.6% 20.6%  -4.1% 0.538
374 Jack Hannahan 0.7952 23.5% 19.4%  -4.1% 0.455
375 Michael Morse 0.9292 28.0% 23.8%  -4.2% 0.633
376 Bryce Harper 0.8933 26.5% 22.3%  -4.2% 0.675
377 Peter Bourjos 0.8455 25.4% 21.2%  -4.2% 0.498
378 Chase Headley  0.818 24.2% 19.9%  -4.3% 0.535
379 Brandon Crawford 0.8531 25.4% 21.0%  -4.3% 0.483
380 Kole Calhoun 0.8195 24.4% 20.1%  -4.3% 0.558
381 Michael McKenry 0.8256 25.1% 20.8%  -4.3% 0.554
382 Paul Goldschmidt 0.8267 25.0% 20.5%  -4.5% 0.713
383 Josh Donaldson  0.804 24.4% 19.9%  -4.5% 0.613
384 Marcell Ozuna 0.9159 28.0% 23.5%  -4.5% 0.553
385 Elliot Johnson 0.8666 26.2% 21.7%  -4.5% 0.431
386 Jonathan Schoop 0.9438 29.0% 24.5%  -4.5% 0.541
387 Carlos Corporan   0.91 27.5% 23.0%  -4.6% 0.469
388 Jesus Guzman 0.8234 25.2% 20.6%  -4.6% 0.514
389 Nick Hundley 0.7969 24.4% 19.7%  -4.8% 0.529
390 Nolan Reimold 0.8145 24.9% 20.1%  -4.8% 0.568
391 Scott Sizemore 0.7491 22.9% 18.1%  -4.8% 0.535
392 Mark Trumbo 0.9542 29.9% 25.0%  -4.9% 0.621
393 Jake Marisnick 0.8895 27.2% 22.2%  -4.9%  0.47
394 Jesus Flores 0.9209 28.4% 23.5%  -4.9% 0.495
395 Tyler Colvin 0.9468 29.2% 24.4%  -4.9% 0.617
396 Nick Swisher 0.7806 23.8% 18.8%  -5.0% 0.583
397 Eugenio Suarez 0.8172 25.2% 20.1%  -5.0% 0.531
398 George Kottaras 0.7793 23.6% 18.6%  -5.0% 0.558
399 Jason Donald 0.8186 25.0% 20.0%  -5.0% 0.481
400 Wilin Rosario 0.9037 27.9% 22.9%  -5.0% 0.611
401 Will Middlebrooks 0.8679 27.1% 21.9%  -5.3% 0.542
402 Michael Saunders 0.8519 26.6% 21.2%  -5.4% 0.522
403 Scott Van Slyke 0.8564 27.3% 21.9%  -5.4% 0.618
404 Jay Bruce  0.906 28.2% 22.7%  -5.5% 0.625
405 Chris Gimenez 0.8056 25.9% 20.3%  -5.6% 0.446
406 Collin Cowgill 0.8294 26.1% 20.5%  -5.6% 0.457
407 Jonny Gomes 0.8798 27.9% 22.2%  -5.7% 0.597
408 Alex Rodriguez 0.8362 26.2% 20.5%  -5.7% 0.637
409 Steve Pearce 0.7994 24.4% 18.6%  -5.7% 0.554
410 Hector Sanchez 0.8942 28.2% 22.3%  -5.8% 0.458
411 Jose Lobaton 0.8365 26.2% 20.4%  -5.8% 0.437
412 Matt LaPorta 0.8543 27.1% 21.3%  -5.8% 0.505
413 Shin-Soo Choo 0.7946 25.1% 19.2%  -5.9% 0.602
414 Matt Joyce 0.8041 25.4% 19.4%  -5.9% 0.555
415 Pedro Florimon  0.808 25.9% 19.9%  -6.0% 0.397
416 Josh Hamilton  0.976 30.9% 24.8%  -6.1% 0.662
417 Matt Kemp 0.8781 28.2% 22.2%  -6.1% 0.648
418 Anthony Gose 0.8627 27.6% 21.5%  -6.1%  0.49
419 J.D. Martinez  0.892 28.2% 22.1%  -6.1% 0.639
420 Brett Wallace 0.9599 31.2% 25.1%  -6.1% 0.596
421 Avisail Garcia 0.9514 31.0% 24.7%  -6.2% 0.508
422 Chris Heisey  0.827 26.8% 20.6%  -6.2% 0.545
423 Rene Rivera 0.8932 28.9% 22.7%  -6.2% 0.444
424 Chris Snyder 0.7873 25.4% 19.0%  -6.3% 0.523
425 John Buck 0.8649 28.2% 21.8%  -6.4%  0.53
426 Yasiel Puig 0.9105 29.8% 23.3%  -6.5% 0.628
427 J.P. Arencibia 0.8982 29.3% 22.8%  -6.5% 0.587
428 Jedd Gyorko 0.8238 26.9% 20.4%  -6.5% 0.522
429 Brian Bogusevic 0.8795 28.1% 21.6%  -6.5% 0.509
430 Nick Castellanos 0.8905 29.2% 22.6%  -6.6% 0.543
431 Austin Kearns 0.7573 25.0% 18.4%  -6.7% 0.465
432 Brent Lillibridge 0.8441 27.9% 21.2%  -6.7% 0.483
433 Jordan Schafer 0.8319 27.1% 20.4%  -6.7% 0.424
434 Nelson Cruz 0.8773 29.0% 22.2%  -6.8% 0.689
435 Corey Hart 0.8434 28.0% 21.2%  -6.8% 0.604
436 Josh Willingham 0.7429 24.7% 17.8%  -7.0% 0.628
437 Andruw Jones 0.8401 27.8% 20.8%  -7.0% 0.597
438 Jackie Bradley Jr. 0.8348 28.3% 21.3%  -7.0% 0.502
439 Ryan Raburn 0.7848 25.9% 18.9%  -7.0% 0.584
440 Brandon Belt  0.815 26.3% 19.2%  -7.1% 0.622
441 Brandon Moss 0.8865 29.3% 22.2%  -7.1% 0.633
442 Danny Espinosa 0.9327 30.9% 23.8%  -7.2% 0.556
443 Ian Stewart  0.888 29.3% 22.2%  -7.2% 0.601
444 Koyie Hill 0.8894 29.5% 22.2%  -7.3% 0.395
445 Sean Rodriguez  0.819 27.7% 20.3%  -7.4% 0.491
446 Brandon Inge 0.8007 27.2% 19.7%  -7.5% 0.505
447 Rickie Weeks 0.7868 27.1% 19.3%  -7.8% 0.579
448 Geovany Soto 0.7582 26.1% 18.3%  -7.8% 0.578
449 Juan Francisco 0.9842 33.1% 25.3%  -7.8% 0.697
450 Tyler Moore 0.8545 29.0% 21.2%  -7.8% 0.564
451 Clete Thomas 0.8434 28.7% 20.9%  -7.9% 0.498
452 Darin Ruf 0.8741 29.2% 21.3%  -7.9% 0.633
453 Jimmy Paredes 0.9853 33.4% 25.4%  -8.0%  0.52
454 Jason Castro 0.8723 26.9% 18.9%  -8.1% 0.547
455 Justin Upton  0.827 29.0% 20.7%  -8.3% 0.646
456 Tyler Greene 0.8317 28.9% 20.1%  -8.8% 0.499
457 Brandon Barnes 0.8887 31.3% 22.4%  -8.9% 0.507
458 Pedro Alvarez 0.9182 32.3% 23.2%  -9.1% 0.644
459 Melvin Upton Jr. 0.7951 28.5% 19.3%  -9.2% 0.551
460 Addison Russell 0.8643 31.1% 21.8%  -9.3% 0.562
461 Luke Scott 0.8567 26.2% 16.9%  -9.3% 0.605
462 Chris Davis 0.9469 34.0% 24.4%  -9.6% 0.767
463 Ryan Howard 0.9604 34.0% 24.3%  -9.6% 0.699
464 Chris Dickerson 0.8426 30.4% 20.8%  -9.6% 0.569
465 Giancarlo Stanton 0.9429 34.0% 24.2%  -9.8% 0.805
466 Casper Wells 0.8026 29.8% 20.0%  -9.8% 0.552
467 Chris Iannetta 0.7276 27.7% 17.7% -10.0% 0.559
468 Mike Napoli 0.8061 29.7% 19.6% -10.1% 0.697
469 Jarrod Saltalamacchia 0.8865 32.2% 22.1% -10.1% 0.633
470 Alex Avila 0.7729 29.1% 18.9% -10.2% 0.567
471 Jeff Mathis  0.845 31.4% 21.1% -10.2% 0.418
472 Kyle Blanks  0.891 32.2% 22.0% -10.2% 0.618
473 Drew Stubbs 0.8017 29.8% 19.5% -10.3% 0.585
474 Dan Uggla 0.7916 29.9% 19.4% -10.5% 0.616
475 Jonathan Villar 0.8196 30.9% 20.4% -10.5% 0.492
476 Khris Davis 0.8234 31.0% 20.4% -10.6% 0.665
477 Nick Franklin 0.8273 31.4% 20.2% -11.2% 0.509
478 Kirk Nieuwenhuis 0.8407 32.0% 20.6% -11.5%  0.59
479 Oswaldo Arcia 0.9106 34.4% 22.9% -11.5% 0.651
480 Miguel Olivo 0.9202 35.2% 23.4% -11.7% 0.595
481 Michael Taylor 0.8627 33.2% 21.6% -11.7% 0.506
482 Chris Colabello 0.8421 32.9% 21.1% -11.9% 0.638
483 Donnie Murphy 0.8139 32.0% 20.0% -12.0% 0.589
484 David Ross 0.8058 32.4% 19.9% -12.5% 0.578
485 Justin Maxwell 0.8554 34.3% 21.7% -12.6% 0.605
486 Justin Ruggiano 0.7958 31.8% 19.3% -12.6% 0.611
487 Mike Zunino 0.8709 34.9% 21.8% -13.1% 0.529
488 Carlos Pena 0.8193 33.2% 20.0% -13.2% 0.644
489 Joc Pederson 0.9036 35.8% 22.7% -13.2% 0.614
490 Tyler Flowers  0.852 34.8% 21.2% -13.5% 0.584
491 Kris Bryant 0.8556 35.8% 21.2% -14.6% 0.748
492 Junior Lake 0.9189 38.2% 23.3% -14.9% 0.558
493 Cody Ransom 0.7953 34.7% 19.5% -15.2% 0.636
494 Chris Carter 0.8481 37.0% 21.2% -15.7% 0.724
495 Mark Reynolds  0.827 36.4% 20.3% -16.1% 0.694
496 Taylor Teagarden  0.827 37.2% 20.7% -16.5% 0.585
497 George Springer 0.7954 36.4% 19.6% -16.8% 0.677
498 Kelly Shoppach 0.8143 38.2% 20.2% -18.0% 0.657

It’s always comforting when the list generated produces names that you would expect to be at the top of the list and the bottom of the list. Ichiro performed almost a full percentage point better than the next closest. When you combine his elite ability to make contact, with his ability to hit pitches anywhere in the strike zone, you get a lot of hits and a great batting average. Salvador Perez and AJ Pierzynski seem to swing at everything, yet don’t swing and miss very often. Marco Scutaro and Chris Iannetta both swing at pitches on average 0.73 feet from the center, but Scutero whiffs seven percent of the time and Ianetta 28 percent.

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Robinson Cano and Pedro Alvarez are both at 0.92 feet, but are at 15 percentand 32 percent and respectively. Michael Brantley is clearly exceptional at pitch selection and combines that with exceptional contact abilities as well, all of which jibe with what we know of him as a ball player. George Springer is pretty selective as well, but swings and misses a ton.

Demonstrate the link between True Contact and SLG on Contact

 

SLG-TRUContact Years

The graph above charts Slugging on Contact to “True Contact” as described above. This yields an impressive 0.28 to 0.32 R-squared relationship (depending on the threshold for swings), implying that we can predict 30 percent of batters’ SLGContact (a good measure of batted ball quality) knowing only how much they over or under-perform their expected whiff percentage based on the location of the pitches they swing at. The underlying assumption is that this can serve as a proxy for how hard the batter is swinging and adjusts for the fact that powerful batters will be pitched around more (and thus have a higher probability of whiffing simply due to pitches being farther from the center of the zone).

One thing that pops out at me from this chart is the clustering that occurs where you have hitters clustered in almost identical locations, suggesting these are very stable skills year to year. Look at Albert Pujols 2008-2010, Ryan Howard 2008/2009, Carlos Pena 2012/2013 and Giancarlo Stanton 2012/2015. It also highlights something very interesting about Mike Trout:

SLG-TRUContact Trout

Trout has seen his SwStr% (on swings) move up steadily since 2012, but this can be mostly attributed to pitchers pitching away from him more and more (20.4 SwStr% in 2012 to 22 percent in 2015 is mirrored by average distance increase of 0.84 feet to 0.89 feet). This would suggest that his true talent level for making contact has remained steady, while he has significantly increased his damage on contact since ’12/’13. It looks like there is still some upside. Interestingly, 2012 Ryan Braun was very similar to 2012 Trout, but never got close to ’14/’15 Trout. I would have published this to Tableau public but the data sets are way too large, unfortunately. Bryce Harper 2015 has a very similar profile to Giancarlo Stanton, but swings at pitches about 0.1 feet closer to the center of the zone.

SLG-TRUContact Career

The relationship holds up when we look at things from a career standpoint. Look at Kris Bryant clustered with Chris Carter, Mark Reynolds, George Springer and Carlos Pena. The latter fou definitely profile the same way, so a little bit troublesome that Bryant is in that zone.

Why not just use SwStr%?

There is a stronger (slightly) relationship between SwStr% and SLGContact, which begs the question, why not just use SwStr%? Well, essentially, I was looking for two distinct variables with no measurable correlation (True Contact and Distance from the Center of the Zone). SwStr% has about a 0.12 R Squared correlation with Distance, so we’d have to deal with multi co-linearity. TRUContact-Distance

True contact has almost no relationship with Distance from Center (0.01 R squared), which indicates that the formula above did a good job stripping out the location variable. This brings us to our final chart of the day:

MULTIPLE REGRESSION
Coefficients Standard Error t Stat P-value
1 Intercept -0.189929484 0.048158186  -3.94386704 0.00008884989
2 True Contact -0.823549038 0.045197794 -18.22100069 0.00000000000
3 Distance from Center  0.642158027 0.040693373  15.78040804 0.00000000000

This relationship has a 0.50 R Squared correlation, implying we can predict almost half of a batter’s Slugging on Contact on two variables: How far away the average pitch is from the center of the zone and how often he swings and misses (adjusted for how far away the pitch is from the center of the zone).

Conclusion

So, what have we learned from all of this? True Contact may be a useful measure to classify hitters who either have long swings or are swinging harder than average (or vice versa). This may lead to some clues to the batters who would benefit from tweaking their swings to be shorter. Giancarlo Stanton leads the list above with an .805 SLGContact, but he may be better off shooting for a Goldschmidt-esque -4.5% and end up as a more productive hitter.


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Eli Ben-Porat is a Senior Manager of Reporting & Analytics for Rogers Communications. The views and opinions expressed herein are his own. He builds data visualizations in Tableau, and preps data in Alteryx. Follow him on Twitter @EliBenPorat.
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Scott
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Scott

David Ortiz and Josh Hamilton seeing pitches just as far away from the center of the plate?

Makes perfect sense: Ortiz has a 22.8% career O-swing % and Hamilton has a career 38.9% career O-swing %. Pitchers are trying to stay away from power in both cases but one can/will take a walk.

Fantastic work and a great read!

Mark
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Mark

Tremendous. You are gifted with numbers my friend.

MGL
Guest

Very good research! I like it a lot…

Stephen
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Stephen
Wow awesome article… I particularly liked the part on Trout, basically getting to the idea that as he gains reputation for being a damaging hitter, pitchers are more careful and therefore throw less hittable pitches. Which might explain his drop in batting average and rise In swtrk% . I’m not sure what the data is but I bet this could explain more concretely sophomore slumps and regression. I am a Sox fan and I saw Abreu as nearly the same hitter yet his numbers showed some decline, and I bet it has more to do with the pitches he sees… Read more »
Brad Libros
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Brad Libros
One of the most interesting articles I have read. Can really see groupings of players with similar approaches/skillsets., and also players who stand out (or not) relative to those at similar points along the spectrum. You were looking mostly at larger (career) data for players – I was wondering if using ISO on contact might be better if working with shorter timeframes such as 1 season or within a season? Would similar logic apply to pitchers? Seems like are some pitchers who throw too many strikes and give up alot of HR/EBH and perhaps would benefit from trading off some… Read more »
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Viktoriya

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