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RFS62
09-29-2011, 09:23 AM
Anyone who thinks a good hitter can't change his approach to generate a flyball in a sac fly situation should watch the replays of Chase Utley's stroke last night to tie the game.

Is it a dying art? Definitely. Is it a part of a complete hitters game? Fewer and fewer guys shorten up or choke up and produce a compact stroke these days.

But if you want to see a textbook example of a smart player with a complete game at the plate, watch that stroke Utley put on the ball last night.

Chip R
09-29-2011, 10:07 AM
So you think he was trying to make an out?

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 10:46 AM
Anyone who thinks a good hitter can't change his approach to generate a flyball in a sac fly situation should watch the replays of Chase Utley's stroke last night to tie the game.

Is it a dying art? Definitely. Is it a part of a complete hitters game? Fewer and fewer guys shorten up or choke up and produce a compact stroke these days.

But if you want to see a textbook example of a smart player with a complete game at the plate, watch that stroke Utley put on the ball last night.

:beerme: Was thinking the same thing when it happened!

RedsManRick
09-29-2011, 12:44 PM
So you think he was trying to make an out?

I think there's a difference between trying to make an out and trying to make sure that your swing produces some loft. Perhaps he reduced his chances of really squaring one up and hitting a line drive, but in that situation he want to err on the side of fly-ball. We should be careful about just how much the batter influence the batter has (i.e. what's a reasonable expectation of the likelihood of converting? 25%? 50%? 75%), but there are times when it makes sense.

Of course, managers should also realize that not every major league hitter has the ability to control his bat that much, regardless of how much they think it's a "fundamental". And stubborn insistence of making any batter take that approach in that situation is probably a bad idea. But for guys like Utley, it makes a lot of sense.

dougdirt
09-29-2011, 05:09 PM
Chase Utley already has one of the shortest swings in baseball. He didn't really shorten his swing up at all, he just swung a little slower in trying to get the ball somewhere.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 06:02 PM
That stroke was nowhere near Utley's usual stroke.

PuffyPig
09-29-2011, 06:11 PM
Anyone who thinks a good hitter can't change his approach to generate a flyball in a sac fly situation should watch the replays of Chase Utley's stroke last night to tie the game.




I guess that's why last night's SF doubled Utley's output this year from 1 to 2,the same number as Adam Dunn.

He's had less than 1% of his PA's result in SF's in his career.

I just love how some posters make sweeoing generalizations based on one PA, in a sport where there is huge flucuations based on randomness.

Utrley threw his bat at the ball in a deperate attempt not to strike out. Good for him, he got the job done.

But it's clear that he didn't change his approach, and obviously seldom does.

RFS62
09-29-2011, 06:34 PM
So you think he was trying to make an out?



Nope. He shortened his swing and tried to put the ball in play in the air. Exactly what a smart player should do in that situation. It's called situational hitting, a drill that all advanced programs run a lot.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think this is a fantasy.

If you saw the play, I'd be very surprised if you don't agree.

But, this is a topic that comes up from time to time and gets beat down by people who think it's not possible.

RFS62
09-29-2011, 06:39 PM
Chase Utley already has one of the shortest swings in baseball. He didn't really shorten his swing up at all, he just swung a little slower in trying to get the ball somewhere.



Nope, it was a much shorter stroke than his usual very compact stroke.

At least you acknowledged that he changed his approach to put the ball in play.

:)

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 08:58 PM
I guess that's why last night's SF doubled Utley's output this year from 1 to 2,the same number as Adam Dunn.

He's had less than 1% of his PA's result in SF's in his career.

I just love how some posters make sweeoing generalizations based on one PA, in a sport where there is huge flucuations based on randomness.

Utrley threw his bat at the ball in a deperate attempt not to strike out. Good for him, he got the job done.

But it's clear that he didn't change his approach, and obviously seldom does.

And I equally love how some posters are oblivious to things that happen, on the playing field, that have been happening for ages. I have watched guys do the same thing Utley did last night for a long, long time. I played with guys in high school and college who would tell you that they were going to hit a fly ball to get the run in from third while they were on the on deck circle. But that's OK. I kinda pity some posters who live in a fantasy world that never allowed them to experience things like RFS62 described from last nights game. Totally oblivious without a clue. Amazing.

westofyou
09-29-2011, 09:04 PM
Nope, it was a much shorter stroke than his usual very compact stroke.

At least you acknowledged that he changed his approach to put the ball in play.

:)

Gorman Thomas did it.

Shortened up that is.

Said he's only do it with two strikes, the rest of the time he'd air it out.

westofyou
09-29-2011, 09:06 PM
I guess that's why last night's SF doubled Utley's output this year from 1 to 2,the same number as Adam Dunn.

He's had less than 1% of his PA's result in SF's in his career.


So do the career leaders.



SACRIFICE FLIES SF PA
1 Eddie Murray 128 12817
2 Cal Ripken 127 12883
3 Robin Yount 123 12249
T4 Frank Thomas 121 10074
T4 Hank Aaron 121 13940
T6 Ruben Sierra 120 8782
T6 George Brett 120 11624
T8 Rafael Palmeiro 119 12046
T8 Rusty Staub 119 11229
10 Andre Dawson 118 10769

mth123
09-29-2011, 09:13 PM
And I equally love how some posters are oblivious to things that happen, on the playing field, that have been happening for ages. I have watched guys do the same thing Utley did last night for a long, long time. I played with guys in high school and college who would tell you that they were going to hit a fly ball to get the run in from third while they were on the on deck circle. But that's OK. I kinda pity some posters who live in a fantasy world that never allowed them to experience things like RFS62 described from last nights game. Totally oblivious without a clue. Amazing.

:thumbup:

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 09:27 PM
It's called situational hitting, a drill that all advanced programs run a lot.

My son's high school team practiced situational hitting at their last fall practice. It's not rocket science and advanced players can handle it. Nothing new. Been going on for years. We did the same thing when I played, and in nearly every cage session that I have with my son, we work on situational hitting. Hitting the opposite way. Hitting up the middle. Getting loft on the ball. It's far from an exact science, but some people might be surprised at how often, even young high school players, can do these things.

I get a kick out of some of these guys. Kinda sad, actually.

dougdirt
09-29-2011, 10:02 PM
High school and college baseball pitchers aren't MLB Pitchers. Mike Leake was absolutely dominant in one of the best college baseball conferences around. Like Pedro Martinez circa 1999 dominant. So far in his career, he has been a below average MLB pitcher. What some people can do against high school or college pitchers doesn't mean guys can do it against MLB pitchers. They throw harder. They throw to better spots. The change speeds better. They have pitches that move and break better. This is like the college QB who played like Tim Tebow. It won't fly in the NFL because those guys are all just that much better. I am always confused when that premise gets lost on people. Baseball is the only pro sport where the absolute best of the best draftees spend YEARS learning to play after being drafted before making it to the Majors. The game is so much better in the pros than it was in college it isn't even funny.

Pete Rose never had more than 7 sac flies in a season. That is the guy who has some of the best bat control in the history of the game isn't it? And pitchers today are infinitely better than pitchers when he was playing. They are something that happens by accident, not by choice. If guys had the ability to place the ball where they wanted, hall of famers wouldn't fail 7 out of 10 times.

RFS62
09-29-2011, 10:18 PM
High school and college baseball pitchers aren't MLB Pitchers. Mike Leake was absolutely dominant in one of the best college baseball conferences around. Like Pedro Martinez circa 1999 dominant. So far in his career, he has been a below average MLB pitcher. What some people can do against high school or college pitchers doesn't mean guys can do it against MLB pitchers. They throw harder. They throw to better spots. The change speeds better. They have pitches that move and break better. This is like the college QB who played like Tim Tebow. It won't fly in the NFL because those guys are all just that much better. I am always confused when that premise gets lost on people. Baseball is the only pro sport where the absolute best of the best draftees spend YEARS learning to play after being drafted before making it to the Majors. The game is so much better in the pros than it was in college it isn't even funny.

Pete Rose never had more than 7 sac flies in a season. That is the guy who has some of the best bat control in the history of the game isn't it? And pitchers today are infinitely better than pitchers when he was playing. They are something that happens by accident, not by choice. If guys had the ability to place the ball where they wanted, hall of famers wouldn't fail 7 out of 10 times.



And likewise, MLB hitters are that more advanced than their scholastic counterparts. It's all relative.

Do you really think that Utley wasn't trying to put the ball in play in the air with that stroke in that situation? Really?

I'm not sure if it's available on-line, I imagine it is. Look at it again and tell me what you think.

Fundamentals are fundamentals. The ability level in MLB to perform these fundamentals is obviously higher. But it's not just the pitchers who are advanced. So are the hitters.

And do you really think that these things aren't taught and practiced in advanced programs from day one? Seriously?

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 10:23 PM
Yeah, the hitters are better too. And every major league pitcher is not Roy Halladay, or Justin Verlander. I've seen some pretty awful and inconsistent pitching at the big league level recently. You don't have to watch many games to see it. And nobody here has said that hitters can do it every time. That has been stated. Baseball is a hard game, regardless of the level, but with your logic, everything is just a "by chance," happening.

There are great players that are way better than anyone else regardless of the level that you watch. That hasn't changed. You can go to a game and see that one or two kids that are just on another planet. Same at the big league level. Some guys are just way better than the majority of the pack. The majority of the pack is still darn good, but there are those who are way better.

Some sac flies happen by accident. Some happen because somebody was trying. Plain and simple. Have seen it, can usually tell when it happens. Chase Utley was trying to loft a ball to the outfield last night.

dougdirt
09-29-2011, 10:30 PM
And likewise, MLB hitters are that more advanced than their scholastic counterparts. It's all relative.

Do you really think that Utley wasn't trying to put the ball in play in the air with that stroke in that situation? Really?

I'm not sure if it's available on-line, I imagine it is. Look at it again and tell me what you think.

Fundamentals are fundamentals. The ability level in MLB to perform these fundamentals is obviously higher. But it's not just the pitchers who are advanced. So are the hitters.

And do you really think that these things aren't taught and practiced in advanced programs from day one? Seriously?

Of course he was trying to put the ball in the air, but Chase Utley has come to the plate 18 times this season with a runner on third and less than two outs. He has hit .182 in those situations with 2 sac flies. Maybe he shouldn't have been trying to do that?

Of course they can try to teach it, but that doesn't mean it works. They have been teaching hitting for 100 years. Guys still fail 75% of the time and those guys are among the absolute best in the world at getting hits.

My point is, sac flies are a side effect of what players are trying to do, which is hit the ball. What if Chase Utley altered his swing and he hit the ball 1 mm lower than where he did? Well now he just popped up to the third baseman. Guys simply don't have that kind of bat control to do it because they want to. If they could, those same guys would hit .400 or better because they could just "hit it where they ain't". But they can't. At least not on anything close to a regular basis.

AtomicDumpling
09-29-2011, 10:32 PM
I would rather see a player try his best to get a hit or a walk than try to intentionally make a certain type of out.

I think it can sometimes be selfish of a player to intentionally squander one of his team's most valuable assets (an out) to make sure he is the individual that gets credit for the RBI. The player is reducing his team's chances of scoring multiple runs without appreciably increasing their chances of scoring one run (because his chances of successfully executing the sac fly are not much greater than if he had tried to get on base). It is an old-school vs a new-school mindset. Small ball vs smart ball. Out conservation is key.

Too often a player is credited for being fundamentally sound by hitting a sac fly when in reality he was trying to get a hit and failed but happened to hit a fly ball that drove in a run. (I am not saying that was what happened in Utley's AB last night.)

westofyou
09-29-2011, 10:33 PM
Pete had 79 Sac flies, 60 of them occurred in ties or down by one run, 7 occurred when down by 4 or more.

My bet is that Pete was willing to take that run for an out when the game was on the line

dougdirt
09-29-2011, 10:33 PM
Some sac flies happen by accident. Some happen because somebody was trying. Plain and simple. Have seen it, can usually tell when it happens. Chase Utley was trying to loft a ball to the outfield last night.

Sure, he was. But I bet he was trying to do it the other 16 times this season he came to the plate with a runner on third and less than two outs too. He has 2 sac flies, a double and 2 HR's in those 18 trips to the plate. That is my point. Guys can try to do it all they want. But it doesn't work out so often because its just incredibly difficult to actually do.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 10:41 PM
Sure, he was. But I bet he was trying to do it the other 16 times this season he came to the plate with a runner on third and less than two outs too. He has 2 sac flies, a double and 2 HR's in those 18 trips to the plate. That is my point. Guys can try to do it all they want. But it doesn't work out so often because its just incredibly difficult to actually do.

Is it any more difficult than getting a hit? Dang, guys, none of this stuff is easy to do.:laugh: Nobody is saying that, but you gotta have some skills. It ain't random.:eek: Heck, you've got eight guys in front of you with super skills trying to catch anything you put in play. Is that easy? Sometimes it might be easier to hit a long fly ball that gets caught than to find a hole or a gap. You new school guys live on a different planet and have all the your neat little answers on a piece of paper or spreadsheet somewhere. That makes it so, I guess. I think it's funny and again, kinda sad.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 10:41 PM
Pete had 79 Sac flies, 60 of them occurred in ties or down by one run, 7 occurred when down by 4 or more.

My bet is that Pete was willing to take that run for an out when the game was on the line

:thumbup:

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 10:43 PM
Sure, he was. But I bet he was trying to do it the other 16 times this season he came to the plate with a runner on third and less than two outs too. He has 2 sac flies, a double and 2 HR's in those 18 trips to the plate. That is my point. Guys can try to do it all they want. But it doesn't work out so often because its just incredibly difficult to actually do.

I think a lot of what Utley might have been trying to do in those situations, might have something to do with the time in the game, and the ultimate need for a single run.

dougdirt
09-29-2011, 10:44 PM
Is it any more difficult than getting a hit? Dang, guys, none of this stuff is easy to do.:laugh: Nobody is saying that, but you gotta have some skills. It ain't random.:eek: Heck, you've got eight guys in front of you with super skills trying to catch anything you put in play. Is that easy? Sometimes it might be easier to hit a long fly ball that gets caught than to find a hole or a gap. You new school guys live on a different planet and have all the your neat little answers on a piece of paper or spreadsheet somewhere. That makes it so, I guess. I think it's funny and again, kinda sad.
New school guys? My belief in stats has nothing to do with my beliefs here, at all. No spreadsheets. No papers. Just my belief that if guys had the type of control over these things that you do, guys would do it far more often than they do and those same guys would get more hits too. But they don't. Just because you disagree with me doesn't make it funny, or sad. Just different.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 10:46 PM
You guys create situations over extended periods, with stats, that don't always tell the full story of what might have been happening at the particular time in any particular game. The numbers get manipulated, and the smarter the manipulator, the more it gets clouded. That, my friend, is sad.

AtomicDumpling
09-29-2011, 10:48 PM
Is it any more difficult than getting a hit? Dang, guys, none of this stuff is easy to do.:laugh: Nobody is saying that, but you gotta have some skills. It ain't random.:eek: Heck, you've got eight guys in front of you with super skills trying to catch anything you put in play. Is that easy? Sometimes it might be easier to hit a long fly ball that gets caught than to find a hole or a gap. You new school guys live on a different planet and have all the your neat little answers on a piece of paper or spreadsheet somewhere. That makes it so, I guess. I think it's funny and again, kinda sad.

Insulting other people's opinions doesn't bolster yours.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 10:56 PM
I would rather see a player try his best to get a hit or a walk than try to intentionally make a certain type of out.

I think it can sometimes be selfish of a player to intentionally squander one of his team's most valuable assets (an out) to make sure he is the individual that gets credit for the RBI. The player is reducing his team's chances of scoring multiple runs without appreciably increasing their chances of scoring one run (because his chances of successfully executing the sac fly are not much greater than if he had tried to get on base). It is an old-school vs a new-school mindset. Small ball vs smart ball. Out conservation is key.

Too often a player is credited for being fundamentally sound by hitting a sac fly when in reality he was trying to get a hit and failed but happened to hit a fly ball that drove in a run. (I am not saying that was what happened in Utley's AB last night.)

Looks like you are pretty adept at the "insulting" zingers too. Small ball vs "smart" ball. Give me a break. Nice.

dougdirt
09-29-2011, 11:02 PM
You guys create situations over extended periods, with stats, that don't always tell the full story of what might have been happening at the particular time in any particular game. The numbers get manipulated, and the smarter the manipulator, the more it gets clouded. That, my friend, is sad.

You guys? Again, my thoughts on this have absolutely nothing at all to do with stats and everything to do with the ability to control where you hit the ball. If guys could control that, hall of famers wouldn't fail 7 out of 10 times.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 11:12 PM
Of course he was trying to put the ball in the air, but Chase Utley has come to the plate 18 times this season with a runner on third and less than two outs. He has hit .182 in those situations with 2 sac flies. Maybe he shouldn't have been trying to do that?

Of course they can try to teach it, but that doesn't mean it works. They have been teaching hitting for 100 years. Guys still fail 75% of the time and those guys are among the absolute best in the world at getting hits.

My point is, sac flies are a side effect of what players are trying to do, which is hit the ball. What if Chase Utley altered his swing and he hit the ball 1 mm lower than where he did? Well now he just popped up to the third baseman. Guys simply don't have that kind of bat control to do it because they want to. If they could, those same guys would hit .400 or better because they could just "hit it where they ain't". But they can't. At least not on anything close to a regular basis.

How do you know what the situation called for those 18 times? You certainly are making your argument about sac flies based on those 18 times, noting that there were only 2 sac flies. How many times was he trying to hit a sac fly in those situations? I know that in the situation, last night, a tight game where runs were at a premium, they definitely needed to get one run home. Any one who has been around the game knows the swing he put on that ball was not his regular cut. That swing was designed to produce a fly ball.

You're free to think what you want, but a guy like Chase Utley has a little bit of bat control that can produce a fly ball from time to time, and that is exactly what he did last night.

BCubb2003
09-29-2011, 11:15 PM
Well this thread should take us up to the Winter Meetings.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 11:15 PM
Sure, he was. But I bet he was trying to do it the other 16 times this season he came to the plate with a runner on third and less than two outs too. He has 2 sac flies, a double and 2 HR's in those 18 trips to the plate. That is my point. Guys can try to do it all they want. But it doesn't work out so often because its just incredibly difficult to actually do.

Was he? Maybe they were down 4 or 5 runs in a few of those situations and he was trying to find a gap and get a big inning started. Maybe they were up 7 and he was trying to jack one out of the park. It's relative to the game situation. You're trying to make that statistic prove a point and work for you when you have no idea what he may have been trying to do in those situations or what the situation actually called for. Looks good, convincing on paper, but doesn't tell the whole story.

AtomicDumpling
09-29-2011, 11:23 PM
Looks like you are pretty adept at the "insulting" zingers too. Small ball vs "smart" ball. Give me a break. Nice.

Who is that insulting? That came from a post where I was simply giving my opinion and was not referring to anyone else's opinion. Your insults were directly aimed at the people whose opinions differed from yours. Not sure why you are getting so worked up. I respect your opinion about sac flies and wasn't making any comments in reference to your opinion.

RFS62
09-29-2011, 11:26 PM
Was he? Maybe they were down 4 or 5 runs in a few of those situations and he was trying to find a gap and get a big inning started. Maybe they were up 7 and he was trying to jack one out of the park. It's relative to the game situation. You're trying to make that statistic prove a point and work for you when you have no idea what he may have been trying to do in those situations or what the situation actually called for. Looks good, convincing on paper, but doesn't tell the whole story.



Exactly. That's why it's called situational hitting. It's relative to the situation.

It's not enough to know that he had a runner on third with less than two outs, you have to also know the situation in the game.

This is a perfect example of how stats can be used to draw a conclusion based on an incomplete set of premises.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 11:29 PM
Who is that insulting? That came from a post where I was simply giving my opinion and was not referring to anyone else's opinion. Your insults were directly aimed at the people whose opinions differed from yours. Not sure why you are getting so worked up. I respect your opinion about sac flies and wasn't making any comments in reference to your opinion.

Smart ball? Give me a break. I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday. Subtle but very telling.

Chip R
09-29-2011, 11:32 PM
Nope. He shortened his swing and tried to put the ball in play in the air. Exactly what a smart player should do in that situation. It's called situational hitting, a drill that all advanced programs run a lot.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people think this is a fantasy.

If you saw the play, I'd be very surprised if you don't agree.

But, this is a topic that comes up from time to time and gets beat down by people who think it's not possible.

Not trying to beat this down or anything but I believe that except in cases like sacrifice bunts - or if you are Craig Biggio - you go up there trying to get a hit and not make an out. I saw Utley and I believe he was trying to hit a fly ball - perhaps a home run or a double into the gap but I believe he wasn't trying to make an out. The sac fly was what sac flies are - happy accidents.

Now if you want to see something about fundamental baseball that you don't see every day, look at Hunter Pence's hit to drive in the go-ahead run. He actually choked up on the bat.

RANDY IN INDY
09-29-2011, 11:33 PM
He always chokes up on the bat.

PuffyPig
09-29-2011, 11:42 PM
Any one who has been around the game knows the swing he put on that ball was not his regular cut. That swing was designed to produce a fly ball.



Well, if he has a swing that is designed to produce a FB, he must has a swing designed to produce a line drive, and one to produce a ground ball.

I'm surprised he didn't bring out his line drive swing, which would produce a hit and an immediate win 70% of the time.

Look, if guys could really produce SF's at will, the lifetime leaders would be doing it more than 1% of the time.

RANDY IN INDY
09-30-2011, 12:00 AM
And if they could all do everything at will, it wouldn't be a game, or a challenge and nobody would be interested. Heck, they wouldn't need to practice. Yeah, everything just happens by chance. You've convinced me...........................

signalhome
09-30-2011, 01:04 AM
Is it any more difficult than getting a hit? Dang, guys, none of this stuff is easy to do.:laugh: Nobody is saying that, but you gotta have some skills. It ain't random.:eek: Heck, you've got eight guys in front of you with super skills trying to catch anything you put in play. Is that easy? Sometimes it might be easier to hit a long fly ball that gets caught than to find a hole or a gap. You new school guys live on a different planet and have all the your neat little answers on a piece of paper or spreadsheet somewhere. That makes it so, I guess. I think it's funny and again, kinda sad.

That's more than a little condescending. I find there to be nothing funny or sad about how much trust I put in statistics to tell me exactly how baseball is supposed to be played.

MWM
09-30-2011, 01:20 AM
I will agree with doug on one thing. What's missing from the conclusions drawn in the OP is how effective guys who try to do this can be, and actually are. I agree with RFS that it is taught at all levels and I also agree that it used by many players in these very situation, of which Utley is probably a prime example.

But doug's point is valid in that just because its taught and is used with occasional success doesn't mean that it actually gets the desired result enough to justify it against the alternative of just trying to square one up like in all othe ABs. And to be clear, I'm not suggesting it doesn't either. The point is that you can't assume that because it works sometimes, that it's actually the best way to handle those situations. You have to consider what the success rate would be in getting the desired outcome of the players just tried to hit the ball hard. I don't know if it would be better, but ABs like Utley's last night is also not near compelling enough to me by itself to convince me it isn't.

Let's say some other player came up to the plate in a similar situation and didn't bother with any shortening of the swing and such. He just did what he always did and tried to hit a line drive. And let's say that player hits one in the gap and the run scores just like it did with the sac fly. Could I then come start a thread and say how great it was that the person who came up in that situation didn't try to do anything different and wind up hitting a weak pop up because he was trying to hit a fly ball and just tried to hit the ball hard? I don't think any more conclusion could be drawn from that than from Utley's AB last night.

signalhome
09-30-2011, 01:34 AM
I will agree with doug on one thing. What's missing from the conclusions drawn in the OP is how effective guys who try to do this can be, and actually are. I agree with RFS that it is taught at all levels and I also agree that it used by many players in these very situation, of which Utley is probably a prime example.

But doug's point is valid in that just because its taught and is used with occasional success doesn't mean that it actually gets the desired result enough to justify it against the alternative of just trying to square one up like in all othe ABs. And to be clear, I'm not suggesting it doesn't either. The point is that you can't assume that because it works sometimes, that it's actually the best way to handle those situations. You have to consider what the success rate would be in getting the desired outcome of the players just tried to hit the ball hard. I don't know if it would be better, but ABs like Utley's last night is also not near compelling enough to me by itself to convince me it isn't.

Let's say some other player came up to the plate in a similar situation and didn't bother with any shortening of the swing and such. He just did what he always did and tried to hit a line drive. And let's say that player hits one in the gap and the run scores just like it did with the sac fly. Could I then come start a thread and say how great it was that the person who came up in that situation didn't try to do anything different and wind up hitting a weak pop up because he was trying to hit a fly ball and just tried to hit the ball hard? I don't think any more conclusion could be drawn from that than from Utley's AB last night.

Well-stated.

remdog
09-30-2011, 02:25 AM
Gotta go with 62 and Randy: this is about knowing baseball, situational hitting, and how to get a run in.

62 and Randy: :thumbup:

Rem

mth123
09-30-2011, 06:49 AM
I will agree with doug on one thing. What's missing from the conclusions drawn in the OP is how effective guys who try to do this can be, and actually are. I agree with RFS that it is taught at all levels and I also agree that it used by many players in these very situation, of which Utley is probably a prime example.

But doug's point is valid in that just because its taught and is used with occasional success doesn't mean that it actually gets the desired result enough to justify it against the alternative of just trying to square one up like in all othe ABs. And to be clear, I'm not suggesting it doesn't either. The point is that you can't assume that because it works sometimes, that it's actually the best way to handle those situations. You have to consider what the success rate would be in getting the desired outcome of the players just tried to hit the ball hard. I don't know if it would be better, but ABs like Utley's last night is also not near compelling enough to me by itself to convince me it isn't.

Let's say some other player came up to the plate in a similar situation and didn't bother with any shortening of the swing and such. He just did what he always did and tried to hit a line drive. And let's say that player hits one in the gap and the run scores just like it did with the sac fly. Could I then come start a thread and say how great it was that the person who came up in that situation didn't try to do anything different and wind up hitting a weak pop up because he was trying to hit a fly ball and just tried to hit the ball hard? I don't think any more conclusion could be drawn from that than from Utley's AB last night.

I get this and see the point. I'm actually a guy who doesn't like "small ball" all that much. I think that bunting is for pitchers and weak hitters in the Janish mold and everyone else should take their cuts. I think the SB is way over rated and in the case of all but a few of the elite baserunners is a risk not worth taking unless its at the bottom of the order where the hitters coming up need all the help they can get to get the runner around...

...but, what is being overlooked here is that the hitter isn't the only guy with some control over what happens. The pitcher and the defense are trying their best to prevent the run from scoring. A normal cut is likely to result in a ground ball and a wasted opportunity because that is how the pitcher is approaching that at bat. In that game, in that situation, getting that run in is of most importance. A hit would be great, an extra base hit better and a home run would be ideal, but a fly ball gets the job done. Baseball is about adjustments from AB to AB and from pitch to pitch. In that AB, its Utley's primary job to make contact and avoid the ground ball (without popping up). That does not mean he's trying to make an out, it means he's trying his best to hit one hard in the air becuase if he does even an out will usually produce a run. He can't approach that like he always does. He has to take into account the outcomes he wants in conjunction with what the pitcher is trying to do and the pitcher is after a ground ball here. If Utley doesn't adjust, its probably what will happen if he makes contact (and if doesn't adjust properly he could end up with a pop fly which does no good at all). Hitting one in the air is not an accident. Its the exact adjustment he should be making given what everyone knows the pitcher is trying to do. Hopefully its a gapper or goes over the fense, but even the lesser result ends up with a good outcome.

Ron Madden
09-30-2011, 06:50 AM
I will agree with doug on one thing. What's missing from the conclusions drawn in the OP is how effective guys who try to do this can be, and actually are. I agree with RFS that it is taught at all levels and I also agree that it used by many players in these very situation, of which Utley is probably a prime example.

But doug's point is valid in that just because its taught and is used with occasional success doesn't mean that it actually gets the desired result enough to justify it against the alternative of just trying to square one up like in all othe ABs. And to be clear, I'm not suggesting it doesn't either. The point is that you can't assume that because it works sometimes, that it's actually the best way to handle those situations. You have to consider what the success rate would be in getting the desired outcome of the players just tried to hit the ball hard. I don't know if it would be better, but ABs like Utley's last night is also not near compelling enough to me by itself to convince me it isn't.

Let's say some other player came up to the plate in a similar situation and didn't bother with any shortening of the swing and such. He just did what he always did and tried to hit a line drive. And let's say that player hits one in the gap and the run scores just like it did with the sac fly. Could I then come start a thread and say how great it was that the person who came up in that situation didn't try to do anything different and wind up hitting a weak pop up because he was trying to hit a fly ball and just tried to hit the ball hard? I don't think any more conclusion could be drawn from that than from Utley's AB last night.

Good post, very well said. :thumbup: :beerme:

Ron Madden
09-30-2011, 07:16 AM
Gotta go with 62 and Randy: this is about knowing baseball, situational hitting, and how to get a run in.

62 and Randy: :thumbup:

Rem

I have always respected your opinion along with those of RFS62 and Randy's.

I do however disagree with the accusation that those of us interested in statistical analysis have no real knowledge of baseball or have any experience playing the game.

RFS62
09-30-2011, 07:44 AM
Well, I guess nobody actually really ever tries to put the ball on the ground to the right side. That's just random, an accident.

And I guess nobody actually tries to hit a line drive, it just happens. None of these guys have any control at all over their stroke.

And nobody ever learned how to shorten up their stroke to make contact in a "make contact" situation like Utley's.

RFS62
09-30-2011, 07:50 AM
Pete had 79 Sac flies, 60 of them occurred in ties or down by one run, 7 occurred when down by 4 or more.

My bet is that Pete was willing to take that run for an out when the game was on the line

Yep. That would be my bet too.



Well this thread should take us up to the Winter Meetings.


You're welcome!

:beerme:

RANDY IN INDY
09-30-2011, 09:15 AM
I get this and see the point. I'm actually a guy who doesn't like "small ball" all that much. I think that bunting is for pitchers and weak hitters in the Janish mold and everyone else should take their cuts. I think the SB is way over rated and in the case of all but a few of the elite baserunners is a risk not worth taking unless its at the bottom of the order where the hitters coming up need all the help they can get to get the runner around...

...but, what is being overlooked here is that the hitter isn't the only guy with some control over what happens. The pitcher and the defense are trying their best to prevent the run from scoring. A normal cut is likely to result in a ground ball and a wasted opportunity because that is how the pitcher is approaching that at bat. In that game, in that situation, getting that run in is of most importance. A hit would be great, an extra base hit better and a home run would be ideal, but a fly ball gets the job done. Baseball is about adjustments from AB to AB and from pitch to pitch. In that AB, its Utley's primary job to make contact and avoid the ground ball (without popping up). That does not mean he's trying to make an out, it means he's trying his best to hit one hard in the air becuase if he does even an out will usually produce a run. He can't approach that like he always does. He has to take into account the outcomes he wants in conjunction with what the pitcher is trying to do and the pitcher is after a ground ball here. If Utley doesn't adjust, its probably what will happen if he makes contact (and if doesn't adjust properly he could end up with a pop fly which does no good at all). Hitting one in the air is not an accident. Its the exact adjustment he should be making given what everyone knows the pitcher is trying to do. Hopefully its a gapper or goes over the fense, but even the lesser result ends up with a good outcome.

:thumbup: Also, the pitch to Utley was in a place that would allow him to loft the ball.

Cooper
09-30-2011, 09:41 AM
Both sides are right, but both batters and pitchers lie so often -how would you know?

I think it may depend on the hitter and the pitcher he is facing. Do i think Drew Stubbs could do such a thing? No, i see not one bit of evidence that he has ever attempted to. He has a long swing and he rarely if ever makes even slight adjustments. Drew Stubb's margin of success is so small that i doubt he could do it.

A player like Rose/Larkin or Carew? I think they may be able to do such a thing depending upon the pitcher where he may have a larger margin of success. I don't think they could do such a thing against Nolan Ryan.

Saying all that, i do think it's possible at the extreme margins (bat control type hitter .vs pitcher with stuff that's kind of vanilla). It's very rare when it occurs. So rare that i'm not sure it could be measured or pointed out- you would have to know the true intent of the batter and, let's face it, batters and pitchers lie.

Danny Serafini
09-30-2011, 09:55 AM
I think the biggest problem here is that you rarely know the intent of the batter. We don't know if that sac fly attempt (for lack of a better term, since he's just trying to get the ball in the air as opposed to trying to make sure an outfielder catches it) fell between two fielders for a double, or carried over the wall for a homer, or was totally blown and resulted in a grounder to third. We don't know if that high fly to the warning track didn't just come as a result of a normal swing. There's no way to calculate any kind of sac fly percentage, give it a number and plop it into a nice, easy table. It isn't something that is easily quantified, so it makes it harder for some people to believe that skill actually exists.

RANDY IN INDY
09-30-2011, 10:05 AM
I don't think anyone is trying to make sure that an outfielder catches the ball. The idea is to hit it in the air and far enough to have a chance of scoring a run, if it is caught.

Danny Serafini
09-30-2011, 10:12 AM
I don't think anyone is trying to make sure that an outfielder catches the ball. The idea is to hit it in the air and far enough to have a chance of scoring a run, if it is caught.

Totally agree. I find the notion that someone is trying to intentionally make an out a bit silly. You put it in the air and hope for the best.

RFS62
09-30-2011, 10:13 AM
Totally agree. I find the notion that someone is trying to intentionally make an out a bit silly. You put it in the air and hope for the best.


Exactly

dougdirt
09-30-2011, 10:28 AM
I don't think anyone is trying to make sure that an outfielder catches the ball. The idea is to hit it in the air and far enough to have a chance of scoring a run, if it is caught.

But that is the entire point... the difference between a ground ball, a pop up, a line drive and a fly ball is about an inch and a half on the bat. I just don't buy that the guy can "do that" with anything close to often by trying to do it. If they could, they would also be able to hit more line drives (which they can't - players tend to almost always fall into a narrow window regardless of actual hitting ability) because they are trying to do so. That isn't what we see happen though. They are probably all trying to go up there and hit line drives nearly every time. But they only do it about 20% of the time.

RANDY IN INDY
09-30-2011, 10:31 AM
I have always respected your opinion along with those of RFS62 and Randy's.

I do however disagree with the accusation that those of us interested in statistical analysis have no real knowledge of baseball or have any experience playing the game.

Nobody is implying that. There are, without a doubt, a huge number of folks who are interested in statistical analysis that embrace the playing and coaching aspect of the game, as well. That's not "new school" at all. Embracing all aspects available to make you a better coach or player is never a bad thing. I coached with a fellow who loved statistical analysis, and it brought so much to the dugout in the decisions that we made during any given game. He also was a good coach and teacher, and played college baseball at Cal State Fullerton. It was a great mix. I valued having the stats that he provided. It made me a better coach and I was happy to have that information to study and discuss with him. It also made the players better as we could better define things that they needed to work on like having better plate discipline, putting them in situations where they could better succeed, and evaluating pitching and how valuable strike one really is. You could show a pitcher how he was so much more successful when he pounded the strike zone early and how falling behind led to multiple problems. Those are just a few examples. Understanding both sides and blending them together is a wonderful thing. One thing is still true. The players still play the game and create the stats. The stats don't play the game or create the player.

RANDY IN INDY
09-30-2011, 10:52 AM
But that is the entire point... the difference between a ground ball, a pop up, a line drive and a fly ball is about an inch and a half on the bat. I just don't buy that the guy can "do that" with anything close to often by trying to do it. If they could, they would also be able to hit more line drives (which they can't - players tend to almost always fall into a narrow window regardless of actual hitting ability) because they are trying to do so. That isn't what we see happen though. They are probably all trying to go up there and hit line drives nearly every time. But they only do it about 20% of the time.

Doug, baseball is baseball and being really good at hitting means you fail a whole lot of the time. It's relative, Factor that in, and there are a lot of guys who hit a lot of line drives. It's definitely not an easy game, (I still believe that hitting a baseball may be the hardest thing to do in all of sport) yet there is still a tremendous amount of precision in the game. I watch regularly, and after being in and around the game for so long, I am still amazed at what a lot of Major League players can do. I've had the opportunity of watching Major League players work out in the winter, my son right along side some of them, and it is truly amazing the things they can do with a bat. The tiny things that they work on, the precision of their swings, is amazing. Talking to these guys about their approach has been very enlightening to me. They, in turn, are amazed at what the young players can do. Many state that they couldn't do the same things at such an early age. The players that I have had the pleasure of being around are so ready to share with the kids. Can they do it every time or with regularity that is not relative to the standards that measure success in the game? No and I don't think anyone is implying that.

MWM
09-30-2011, 10:53 AM
Well, I guess nobody actually really ever tries to put the ball on the ground to the right side. That's just random, an accident.

And I guess nobody actually tries to hit a line drive, it just happens. None of these guys have any control at all over their stroke.

And nobody ever learned how to shorten up their stroke to make contact in a "make contact" situation like Utley's.

I don't think anyone's saying that, at least I know I'm not. I agree 100% that players are taught to do exactly what you're suggesting and they actually try to do what you're suggesting in these situations. And I'm also not suggesting there's no value to it. I'm just saying I don't think we can conclude that because they're taught to do it and they do do it that it's automatically the right thing.

The goal in that situation is to maximize the chance of getting the run in. How do we know that the higher percentage play isn't just trying to hit the ball hard rather than trying to adjust your swing to hit a flyball? So if we take every one of those situations in a year for every team in every game and they attempt do what you're suggesting Utley did last night (to which I think you're probably right). Then you take those same situations and have the hitters just try to hit the ball hard like they do most ABs. Are you suggesting more runs would score with the former? I'm not convinced that's true. I'm also not claiming I know it to not be true. But I don't think last night's AB for Utley is proof of either when I don't think anyone has ever looked at the latter the same as you're looking at the former and evaluated if it leads to better results. Have you ever watched an AB in that situation where the hitter line a shot into the gap and thought what a great approach that was? If you haven't objectively considered both alternatives, I think it's difficult to claim to have the right answer.

Intuitively, I see a lot of value in a shortened stroke in that situation. The worst possible scenario is a strike out so making sure you get the bat on the ball is very important. What seems less intuitive to me is the idea of both shortening the swing and trying to hit a fly ball. Again, I do think players are taught this and put it into practice so I'm not questioning that. But I also don't know if the likelihood of success in getting the ball not only into the air but also deep enough into the outfield to score the run is high enough to offset all the other potential ways for the run to score if he just gets the bat on the ball. In other words, I think the success rate of just putting the ball in play with a shortened swing is significantly higher than being able to execute a certain type of fly ball. But that's just my speculation.

If you think about it all the way through, a short fly ball or pop up isn't going to score the run, and you have to admit that a swing intended to get the ball in the air has a decent chance of being just that. Also, a shortened swing further altered to try to get the ball in the air is not as highly likely to wind up in a deep drive. That leaves you with a mid-range fly ball.

Take the alternative of a shortened swing just trying to make contact but agnostic to trajectory of the ball. The infield is in at that point, so the chances of one getting through is higher. The infielders will also have less time to react, so the chances of them bobbling the ball are higher. They also have to come up with the ball and make a throw to the plate under the most pressure filled situation possible. the infield being in also increases the chance of a blooper dropping for a single. And finally, it's not like this approach will never lead to a fly ball that will score the runner.

Again, I don't claim to know which approach scores the runner more often. But based on all the different scenarios that could get the run in, my gut tells me I'd rather take my chances with just trying to get the bat on the ball or maybe even just taking a normal swing (depending on who is at the plate). And while good points were made regarding the situations Utley was in all year and how they could differ, twice out of 16 ABs still seems pretty small to me, especially considering Philly was playing with the lead most of the year. But someone would have to look at them one by one to understand if those 16 ABs tell us anything.

I don't think this is the old school versus new school thing some are making it out to be. I think it's just a matter of thinking through the situation and all the possible ways to get the run in. Heck, I think it's just taking "situational hitting" to the next level and trying to fully understand the "situation" before jumping to a conclusion. There's nothing new school about that. I also don't think simply questioning the validity of the conventional wisdom that comes from the baseball establishment makes someone "new school" and unwilling to accept the traditional way of thinking either.

dougdirt
09-30-2011, 11:16 AM
Doug, baseball is baseball and being really good at hitting means you fail a whole lot of the time. It's relative, Factor that in, and there are a lot of guys who hit a lot of line drives. It's definitely not an easy game, (I still believe that hitting a baseball may be the hardest thing to do in all of sport) yet there is still a tremendous amount of precision in the game. I watch regularly, and after being in and around the game for so long, I am still amazed at what a lot of Major League players can do. I've had the opportunity of watching Major League players work out in the winter, my son right along side some of them, and it is truly amazing the things they can do with a bat. The tiny things that they work on, the precision of their swings, is amazing. Talking to these guys about their approach has been very enlightening to me. They, in turn, are amazed at what the young players can do. Many state that they couldn't do the same things at such an early age. The players that I have had the pleasure of being around are so ready to share with the kids. Can they do it every time or with regularity that is not relative to the standards that measure success in the game? No and I don't think anyone is implying that.
Well if they can't do it with regularity, then I just don't see the point that was attempting to be made that players can alter their swings to do it. Isn't that the original point that was made in post #1?

osuceltic
09-30-2011, 11:25 AM
But that is the entire point... the difference between a ground ball, a pop up, a line drive and a fly ball is about an inch and a half on the bat. I just don't buy that the guy can "do that" with anything close to often by trying to do it. If they could, they would also be able to hit more line drives (which they can't - players tend to almost always fall into a narrow window regardless of actual hitting ability) because they are trying to do so. That isn't what we see happen though. They are probably all trying to go up there and hit line drives nearly every time. But they only do it about 20% of the time.

When I played, if I was trying to get the ball in the air, I would lower my hands just a little and concentrate on keeping my knees bent through my swing. And it worked. Not always, but it increased my odds.

That's all anyone is saying. A baseball is 3 inches in diameter. Occasionally you square it up and get a line drive. More often, you miss either a little high or a little low. When you're trying to hit a sacrifice fly, you're doing everything you can to make your miss be on the low side. That's all. And yes, it's possible and done all the time.

Chip R
09-30-2011, 11:54 AM
I don't think anyone is trying to make sure that an outfielder catches the ball. The idea is to hit it in the air and far enough to have a chance of scoring a run, if it is caught.

Agreed.

remdog
09-30-2011, 12:47 PM
I have always respected your opinion along with those of RFS62 and Randy's.

I do however disagree with the accusation that those of us interested in statistical analysis have no real knowledge of baseball or have any experience playing the game.

Ron: I certainly never said that and, to my knowledge, neither did 62 or Randy.

To paraphrase Ted Williams, 'the hardest thing to do in sports is to put a round bat on a round ball squarely'. And he was, IMO, right. Yet there are players that can do that.

When I played I was usually the lead off hitter 'cause I'm a smaller guy with good speed but I had no power. :) But I did have a good eye and drew a fair amount of walks. (I also played SS or 2nd so Dusty would have loved me. :lol:) So, in BP, since I knew I wasn't about to hit a home run, I worked and worked and worked on being able to hit to right field or left field even if the pitch was inside. There are guys that get very good at what they practice, especially in MLB.

There are lot of pitchers in MLB that are very tough to hit. OTOH, there are a lot of hitters in MLB that can put that 'round bat on a round ball, squarely'. A lot depends on the game situation, the batters' recognition of the situation, the matchup between pitcher and hitter and if the hitter really has a plan of action going into the AB.

Just as a side note: one player that I was very disappointed with this year for the Reds was Jay Bruce. The guy has a world of talent but, to me, he seldom seems to have a plan at the plate---he's just hacking away. Votto, OTOH, usually has a well thought out idea of what he wants to do almost everytime he's in the batter's box. JMO, of course.

Rem

RANDY IN INDY
09-30-2011, 01:24 PM
Well if they can't do it with regularity, then I just don't see the point that was attempting to be made that players can alter their swings to do it. Isn't that the original point that was made in post #1?

Here is the original post:


Anyone who thinks a good hitter can't change his approach to generate a flyball in a sac fly situation should watch the replays of Chase Utley's stroke last night to tie the game.

Is it a dying art? Definitely. Is it a part of a complete hitters game? Fewer and fewer guys shorten up or choke up and produce a compact stroke these days.

But if you want to see a textbook example of a smart player with a complete game at the plate, watch that stroke Utley put on the ball last night.

You really don't think that a major league hitter can do this? Honestly? And I will argue, again, that your measurement for "regularity" seems to change to support your position. It's relative to the difficulty of hitting a baseball. The only thing that I have stated is that players can execute the skill although they cannot produce the result, every time. Impossible. The game is too hard. But I know and have seen, players execute it at many different levels, including the major leagues. I have done it myself, at a very high level, against very good pitching.

I'm not going to argue with you anymore on this one, Doug. I've stated my position and you've stated yours and nobody's mind is going to change. :beerme:

Edskin
09-30-2011, 02:40 PM
I think I'm with 62 on this one. I say "I think" because as always, RZ produces some of the best baseball discussion on the web and there are some very good counter points here.

But in response to the stat that he's had 18 AB's this year with a man on third and less than two out and only hit two sac flies....

Those numbers don't address the situation. Huge difference if that situation occurs in the first inning, the fifth inning, or the ninth inning. Also a huge difference if it's a one run game or a tie game as opposed to a lead of two or more runs.

I beleive that Chase Utley (and many other big league hitters) probably ARE capabale of controlling the bat and placing the ball a bit better than we give them credit for. It's just that there really aren't THAT many situations when a medium fly ball to left is a clear positive. Chase Utley is an awesome hitter... I don't want him focusing alley on a sac fly if my team is down two runs in the third inning...

But I do think situational hitting is a bit of a lost art and Utley gave everyone a pretty good lesson on how it's done.

Homer Bailey
09-30-2011, 05:03 PM
I believe that Utley can change his approach to increase the liklihood that he'll hit a fly ball. This one example does not "prove" anything. Chase Utley can not hit a fly ball off a major league pitcher on command.

If he changed his approach, hit a fly ball, but popped it up slightly, and the run doesn't get in, then this thread does not get started, showing how volatile the situation is that we're talking about. It's a sample size of 1.

dougdirt
09-30-2011, 05:42 PM
When I played, if I was trying to get the ball in the air, I would lower my hands just a little and concentrate on keeping my knees bent through my swing. And it worked. Not always, but it increased my odds.

That's all anyone is saying. A baseball is 3 inches in diameter. Occasionally you square it up and get a line drive. More often, you miss either a little high or a little low. When you're trying to hit a sacrifice fly, you're doing everything you can to make your miss be on the low side. That's all. And yes, it's possible and done all the time.

Did you play in the majors? Otherwise, the comparison simply isn't going to sway me at all. While I get that the hitters are also infinitely better than you were and that they do indeed try to do the thing you speak of, that doesn't make it something that I believe they truly have control over. Seriously, 1 mm lower on the ball and Utley pops that ball up to 3B or SS. So yes, it is possible and done all the time that players try to lift the ball. I don't believe it is something that they can do on command (hit the ball in the air and deep enough to get that sac fly simply by changing their swing).

AtomicDumpling
09-30-2011, 06:09 PM
I don't think anyone's saying that, at least I know I'm not. I agree 100% that players are taught to do exactly what you're suggesting and they actually try to do what you're suggesting in these situations. And I'm also not suggesting there's no value to it. I'm just saying I don't think we can conclude that because they're taught to do it and they do do it that it's automatically the right thing.

The goal in that situation is to maximize the chance of getting the run in. How do we know that the higher percentage play isn't just trying to hit the ball hard rather than trying to adjust your swing to hit a flyball? So if we take every one of those situations in a year for every team in every game and they attempt do what you're suggesting Utley did last night (to which I think you're probably right). Then you take those same situations and have the hitters just try to hit the ball hard like they do most ABs. Are you suggesting more runs would score with the former? I'm not convinced that's true. I'm also not claiming I know it to not be true. But I don't think last night's AB for Utley is proof of either when I don't think anyone has ever looked at the latter the same as you're looking at the former and evaluated if it leads to better results. Have you ever watched an AB in that situation where the hitter line a shot into the gap and thought what a great approach that was? If you haven't objectively considered both alternatives, I think it's difficult to claim to have the right answer.

Intuitively, I see a lot of value in a shortened stroke in that situation. The worst possible scenario is a strike out so making sure you get the bat on the ball is very important. What seems less intuitive to me is the idea of both shortening the swing and trying to hit a fly ball. Again, I do think players are taught this and put it into practice so I'm not questioning that. But I also don't know if the likelihood of success in getting the ball not only into the air but also deep enough into the outfield to score the run is high enough to offset all the other potential ways for the run to score if he just gets the bat on the ball. In other words, I think the success rate of just putting the ball in play with a shortened swing is significantly higher than being able to execute a certain type of fly ball. But that's just my speculation.

If you think about it all the way through, a short fly ball or pop up isn't going to score the run, and you have to admit that a swing intended to get the ball in the air has a decent chance of being just that. Also, a shortened swing further altered to try to get the ball in the air is not as highly likely to wind up in a deep drive. That leaves you with a mid-range fly ball.

Take the alternative of a shortened swing just trying to make contact but agnostic to trajectory of the ball. The infield is in at that point, so the chances of one getting through is higher. The infielders will also have less time to react, so the chances of them bobbling the ball are higher. They also have to come up with the ball and make a throw to the plate under the most pressure filled situation possible. the infield being in also increases the chance of a blooper dropping for a single. And finally, it's not like this approach will never lead to a fly ball that will score the runner.

Again, I don't claim to know which approach scores the runner more often. But based on all the different scenarios that could get the run in, my gut tells me I'd rather take my chances with just trying to get the bat on the ball or maybe even just taking a normal swing (depending on who is at the plate). And while good points were made regarding the situations Utley was in all year and how they could differ, twice out of 16 ABs still seems pretty small to me, especially considering Philly was playing with the lead most of the year. But someone would have to look at them one by one to understand if those 16 ABs tell us anything.

I don't think this is the old school versus new school thing some are making it out to be. I think it's just a matter of thinking through the situation and all the possible ways to get the run in. Heck, I think it's just taking "situational hitting" to the next level and trying to fully understand the "situation" before jumping to a conclusion. There's nothing new school about that. I also don't think simply questioning the validity of the conventional wisdom that comes from the baseball establishment makes someone "new school" and unwilling to accept the traditional way of thinking either.

Excellent post and I agree 99%. The only thing I would adjust is to remove the bolded phrase. Striking out isn't really the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario is hitting the ball and causing the runner on 3rd to be eliminated. Hitting a shallow fly ball or an infield grounder that results in the runner being thrown out at home is far, far more damaging than merely striking out. The batter could also hit into an inning-ending double play (the runner on 3rd may not be the only runner). Shortening up the swing increases the chances of these more damaging outcomes happening. In many cases striking out is the most harmless way to make an out.

To add a comment that is not in reference to your post, one issue that has not been touched on too often in this thread is that focusing exclusively on the best way to make sure the runner on 3rd comes in to score is not a comprehensive manner to judge the overall game situation. Keep in mind, in most of these cases it would behoove the team to score more than one run. Shortening or altering your swing in an attempt to drive in the run right away with a fly ball reduces the likelihood your team is going to score multiple runs -- and therefore could reduce your odds of actually winning the game. Shortening your swing to make contact reduces your chances of drawing a walk, and hence reduces your chances of getting on base. And we all know that OBP is the key to scoring runs and winning games as a team.

In my mind I would be more likely to attempt a sac fly approach if it was the 9th inning of a tie game, otherwise I would play for more than one run. If the batter is a player that has demonstrated an ability to execute the strategy at a high rate then that could influence my strategy as well. Looking around the league I can't find any players that seem to have demonstrated a real "sac-fly skill". It seems to me the guys with high sac-fly rates are sluggers that hit a lot of fly balls anyway -- they are just doing what they always do and if there happens to be a guy on 3rd with less than 2 outs he gets credit for the fundamentally sound sac fly stat. I don't see the bat-control types being any more prone to getting sac flies. The best correlation for sac fly rates is players that play on high scoring teams, presumably because they have more opportunities because their teams get more runners on 3rd base.

Lastly, I agree with earlier posters who stated that players like Pete Rose and others in that era definitely did try to hit sac flies and hit behind the runner to advance him to third and other similar small ball strategies. That is what their coaches wanted them to do because it was believed at the time to be the best strategy. I think statistical analysis has since changed the thought process among many teams who now don't believe those strategies are as wise or effective as they were thought to be in prior decades. The game has changed for better or worse.

wlf WV
09-30-2011, 10:03 PM
I regard stats similar to State and Fed laws,they were made for me and not me for the laws.Most of the time it is better to obey,but circumstances dictate disobedience.

Every data point has a unique value in quantifying the resulting statistic,an intelligent representative assigns the appropriate value wisely,whatever the field of discipline.

RFS62
09-30-2011, 10:19 PM
You have to peel the onion a few layers further than just the superficial, whether it be stats of subjective judgment.

Earlier in this thread, we had respected posters stating that 2 for 16 is enough to declare that statistical analysis proves it can't be done, or is irrelevent. If that's as far as you go, you've barely scratched the surface.

Then, we had respected posters observing that you need to look at the situation in each and every one of those at bats to really understand.

There are layers and layers beneath that level as well. The most obvious is what was the game situation. Late innings where a run is much more important, as in the Utley at bat. What was the state of mind of the player. What kind of streak is he on, the current level of his game, for instance. How is he against the kind of pitcher he's facing. As you drill down, there are levels which we'll never know with our limited access.

The most important thing of all, we'll never know unless we get a chance to hear the player say so... what was his intent.

That's what galls me the most about the proclamations that such and such "can't be done". And if you talk to players, even when they say the exact thing you've heard here, the response is often "well, even the players don't understand advanced metrics".

Anectdotal evidence, even from the highest level of performers in the history of the game, is often ignored by people who don't understand the performance issues but are able to crunch numbers and draw these conclusions.

I love statistics. Really, I do. When I was a kid, I knew everyone's ERA, batting average, whatever.... stats which are eschewed today, but were the highest level of understanding available then. I don't resist the new science of statistical analysis, in fact, I embrace it. I want to know every single thing I can about the game I love.

But I don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Balance. Balance between expert subjective judgment and expert statistical analysis is what I respect above all else in the quest to become an evolved baseball mind.

wlf WV
09-30-2011, 11:22 PM
You have to peel the onion a few layers further than just the superficial, whether it be stats of subjective judgment.

Earlier in this thread, we had respected posters stating that 2 for 16 is enough to declare that statistical analysis proves it can't be done, or is irrelevent. If that's as far as you go, you've barely scratched the surface.

Then, we had respected posters observing that you need to look at the situation in each and every one of those at bats to really understand.

There are layers and layers beneath that level as well. The most obvious is what was the game situation. Late innings where a run is much more important, as in the Utley at bat. What was the state of mind of the player. What kind of streak is he on, the current level of his game, for instance. How is he against the kind of pitcher he's facing. As you drill down, there are levels which we'll never know with our limited access.

The most important thing of all, we'll never know unless we get a chance to hear the player say so... what was his intent.

That's what galls me the most about the proclamations that such and such "can't be done". And if you talk to players, even when they say the exact thing you've heard here, the response is often "well, even the players don't understand advanced metrics".

Anectdotal evidence, even from the highest level of performers in the history of the game, is often ignored by people who don't understand the performance issues but are able to crunch numbers and draw these conclusions.

I love statistics. Really, I do. When I was a kid, I knew everyone's ERA, batting average, whatever.... stats which are eschewed today, but were the highest level of understanding available then. I don't resist the new science of statistical analysis, in fact, I embrace it. I want to know every single thing I can about the game I love.

But I don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Balance. Balance between expert subjective judgment and expert statistical analysis is what I respect above all else in the quest to become an evolved baseball mind.

Pretty good post for a Texan,bears repeating.:)

RANDY IN INDY
10-01-2011, 06:36 AM
Actually, he's a West Virginian, just like me and you!

cincinnati chili
10-02-2011, 01:52 PM
So do the career leaders.



SACRIFICE FLIES SF PA
1 Eddie Murray 128 12817
2 Cal Ripken 127 12883
3 Robin Yount 123 12249
T4 Frank Thomas 121 10074
T4 Hank Aaron 121 13940
T6 Ruben Sierra 120 8782
T6 George Brett 120 11624
T8 Rafael Palmeiro 119 12046
T8 Rusty Staub 119 11229
10 Andre Dawson 118 10769


nice list