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Thread: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

  1. #46
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor
    Cyclone, this is truly a great piece of work. I'd like to see RedsZone set up a second Archives-like forum called something like "The Baseball Academy" where posts like this can be preserved and quickly accessed by fans who want to get smarter about the game.

    Your data indicates that, as baseball conventional wisdom teaches, the quickest way to neuter a hitter is to get him into a pitchers count. The best hitters are the ones most adept at working the strike zone in their favor. While this is relevant to showing why the Reds are so successful offensively, perhaps the inverse could aslo be revealing as to why the Reds are so poor on the mound. I'd be curious to see how often Reds pitchers placed opposing batters in hitters counts vs. pitchers counts -- and I'd be willing to wager that Aaron Harang saw way more pitchers counts than Eric Milton did last year.
    Thanks, Caveat. What you mention about applying the same count data for pitchers is also something I've been thinking about, and I'm going to try to look into it a bit. I've been browsing around some pitching splits and most of the data should be available so I'll see what I can find.

    Just a quick glance at 2005 and I noticed Milton was behind in the count for 253 plate appearances (out of 855 total), which was 29.6 percent of all his plate appearances against. Harang was behind in the count for 253 plate appearances (out of 887 total), which was 28.5 percent of all his plate appearances against. Slight edge to Harang, but nothing too significant.

    Getting ahead of hitters was an entirely different story between those two. Harang was ahead in the count 40.0 percent of the time, compared to only 34.7 percent for Milton. This is a rather significant edge for Harang.
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  3. #47
    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    I'm bumping a couple of threads here in light of all the recent Dunn bashing. this is one of my favorite threads ever.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

  4. #48
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor
    Cyclone, this is truly a great piece of work. I'd like to see RedsZone set up a second Archives-like forum called something like "The Baseball Academy" where posts like this can be preserved and quickly accessed by fans who want to get smarter about the game.

    Your data indicates that, as baseball conventional wisdom teaches, the quickest way to neuter a hitter is to get him into a pitchers count. The best hitters are the ones most adept at working the strike zone in their favor. While this is relevant to showing why the Reds are so successful offensively, perhaps the inverse could aslo be revealing as to why the Reds are so poor on the mound. I'd be curious to see how often Reds pitchers placed opposing batters in hitters counts vs. pitchers counts -- and I'd be willing to wager that Aaron Harang saw way more pitchers counts than Eric Milton did last year.
    I agree and think that maybe a sub-forum archive of SABR-related posts like these would be great way to educate the masses on some of the principals rooted in deep statistical analysis.

    When someone makes a subjective knee-jerk post saying something like, "Adam Dunn can't can't hit......blah blah blah", just direct them to a link that takes them into the archive of that particular topic.

    Good bump, vaticanplum.

  5. #49
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Well, I finally got around to updating this plate discipline and batting count information with all the 2006 season stats included. I'm not going to bother going through the entire methodology again so if you're a bit confused by this post, check out the original post on the very first page and that should help clear up some confusion. But, as a reminder ...
    • TPA = Total Plate Appearances (all counts)
    • HCPA = Hitter's Count Plate Appearances (i.e. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, etc.)
    • HCPA% = Percentage of total plate appearances that were hitter's counts
    • PCPA = Pitcher's Count Plate Appearances (i.e. 0-1, 0-2, and 1-2)
    • PCPA% = Percentage of total plate appearances that were pitcher's counts

    First, here's how each team fared in 2006 ...
    Code:
    
    Team			HCPA	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS	TPA	 HCPA %
    
    New York Yankees	2503	0.508	0.576	1.084	6455	38.776%
    Oakland Athletics	2378	0.489	0.496	0.985	6281	37.860%
    Boston Red Sox		2434	0.504	0.534	1.038	6435	37.824%
    Los Angeles Dodgers	2409	0.491	0.539	1.030	6394	37.676%
    San Diego Padres	2329	0.475	0.492	0.967	6287	37.045%
    Cincinnati Reds		2332	0.489	0.546	1.035	6296	37.039%
    Arizona Diamondbacks	2317	0.455	0.499	0.954	6330	36.603%
    Washington Nationals	2289	0.492	0.540	1.032	6283	36.432%
    Philadelphia Phillies	2367	0.494	0.543	1.037	6509	36.365%
    Houston Astros		2289	0.481	0.511	0.992	6326	36.184%
    Texas Rangers		2257	0.476	0.544	1.020	6273	35.980%
    Cleveland Indians	2251	0.509	0.587	1.096	6303	35.713%
    Atlanta Braves		2239	0.469	0.554	1.023	6284	35.630%
    Minnesota Twins		2210	0.473	0.506	0.979	6228	35.485%
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Toronto Blue Jays	2204	0.478	0.554	1.031	6241	35.315%
    New York Mets		2211	0.489	0.559	1.048	6291	35.145%
    St. Louis Cardinals	2187	0.476	0.527	1.003	6225	35.133%
    Chicago White Sox	2215	0.473	0.536	1.009	6318	35.059%
    Colorado Rockies	2220	0.493	0.533	1.026	6348	34.972%
    Los Angeles Angels	2160	0.469	0.524	0.994	6221	34.721%
    San Francisco Giants	2109	0.461	0.514	0.974	6136	34.371%
    Seattle Mariners	2131	0.434	0.498	0.932	6213	34.299%
    Milwaukee Brewers	2089	0.474	0.513	0.987	6130	34.078%
    Baltimore Orioles	2120	0.472	0.500	0.972	6240	33.974%
    Detroit Tigers		2086	0.452	0.510	0.963	6198	33.656%
    Chicago Cubs		2068	0.427	0.491	0.918	6147	33.642%
    Kansas City Royals	2094	0.479	0.519	0.998	6229	33.617%
    Florida Marlins		2035	0.482	0.521	1.003	6191	32.870%
    Tampa Bay Devil Rays	1958	0.460	0.529	0.988	6041	32.412%
    Pittsburgh Pirates	1987	0.465	0.493	0.959	6218	31.956%
    
    League                 66478    0.477   0.527   1.004 188071    35.347%
    
    Code:
    
    Team			PCPA	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS	TPA	 PCPA %
    
    New York Yankees	1776	0.242	0.352	0.594	6455	27.514%
    San Diego Padres	1808	0.220	0.325	0.545	6287	28.758%
    Atlanta Braves		1814	0.219	0.338	0.557	6284	28.867%
    Oakland Athletics	1814	0.218	0.308	0.526	6281	28.881%
    Houston Astros		1829	0.220	0.318	0.538	6326	28.912%
    Los Angeles Dodgers	1850	0.230	0.332	0.562	6394	28.933%
    Cincinnati Reds		1825	0.205	0.314	0.519	6296	28.987%
    Arizona Diamondbacks	1855	0.219	0.294	0.513	6330	29.305%
    Boston Red Sox		1894	0.226	0.320	0.546	6435	29.433%
    San Francisco Giants	1828	0.214	0.308	0.521	6136	29.791%
    Philadelphia Phillies	1969	0.233	0.344	0.577	6509	30.250%
    Chicago White Sox	1919	0.239	0.356	0.595	6318	30.374%
    Texas Rangers		1912	0.222	0.342	0.564	6273	30.480%
    Kansas City Royals	1901	0.217	0.295	0.512	6229	30.519%
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    St. Louis Cardinals	1916	0.231	0.336	0.567	6225	30.779%
    Cleveland Indians	1957	0.220	0.324	0.544	6303	31.049%
    Minnesota Twins		1936	0.253	0.357	0.610	6228	31.085%
    Baltimore Orioles	1959	0.250	0.346	0.596	6240	31.394%
    Washington Nationals	1973	0.216	0.307	0.523	6283	31.402%
    Colorado Rockies	2010	0.236	0.348	0.584	6348	31.664%
    Detroit Tigers		1966	0.235	0.377	0.612	6198	31.720%
    Tampa Bay Devil Rays	1919	0.210	0.313	0.523	6041	31.766%
    Chicago Cubs		1958	0.240	0.335	0.575	6147	31.853%
    Toronto Blue Jays	1995	0.249	0.377	0.626	6241	31.966%
    Florida Marlins		1983	0.218	0.322	0.540	6191	32.030%
    Los Angeles Angels	1993	0.241	0.351	0.592	6221	32.037%
    New York Mets		2028	0.235	0.363	0.598	6291	32.237%
    Seattle Mariners	2018	0.243	0.355	0.597	6213	32.480%
    Milwaukee Brewers	2037	0.222	0.331	0.553	6130	33.230%
    Pittsburgh Pirates	2124	0.219	0.280	0.499	6218	34.159%
    
    League                 57766    0.228   0.332   0.561 188071    30.715%
    
    In 2005, the Cincinnati Reds had a Hitter's Count Plate Appearance Percentage (HCPA%) of 37.083 percent, which means their 2006 mark of 37.039 percent was a neglible drop ... and that's a very, very good thing considering the Reds were once again among the best teams at getting themselves into hitting counts. For HCPA%, the higher the figure, the better.

    Also, the Reds had a neglible improvement in Pitcher's Count Plate Appearance Percentage (PCPA%) in 2006 compared to the previous season. In 2005, Reds batters got stuck in pitcher's counts in 29.774 percent of all plate appearances, and in 2006 that figure improved to 28.987 percent. For PCPA%, the lower the figure, the better.

    League figures for both HCPA% and PCPA% were virtually identical in 2005 and 2006, which leads me to believe that on a league-wide level these numbers should remain very stable. Teams will obviously fluctuate on a season-by-season basis as their offensive personnel turns over.
    • In 2005, the MLB HCPA% was 34.834 percent, and in 2006 the MLB HCPA% was 35.347 percent.
    • In 2005, the MLB PCPA% was 30.993 percent, and in 2006 the MLB PCPA% was 30.715 percent.

    For individual players, sample sizes may become a slight problem as even full seasons of data may still be a somewhat small sample size so I've merely updated the total career numbers of each player. Since the Reds have had a bit of player turnover since I posted this thread originally, there's actually quite a few new faces on here. First, the hitting counts ...
    Code:
    
    Player            HCPA     SLG    OPS    Total PA    HCPA %  HCPA+
    
    Adam Dunn         1552    .633  1.184      3464     44.804%   128
    Scott Hatteberg   1926    .504   .999      4384     43.932%   125
    Chris Denorfia      68    .490  1.005       162     41.975%   120
    Edwin Encarnacion  281    .628  1.108       697     40.316%   115
    Ken Griffey, Jr.  3768    .643  1.127      9525     39.559%   113
    Ryan Freel         644    .388   .876      1707     37.727%   108
    Jeff Conine       2654    .560  1.046      7482     35.472%   101
    Javier Valentin    426    .526   .989      1250     34.080%    97
    David Ross         257    .657  1.148       771     33.333%    95
    Juan Castro        669    .400   .786      2255     29.667%    85
    Brandon Phillips   286    .384   .755      1039     27.526%    79
    Alex Gonzalez      931    .521   .955      3886     23.958%    68
    Dunn, Hatteberg, Griffey, and Freel all remain largely unchanged from the 2005 data, and all of them continued to do very well in getting into hitter's counts.

    Edwin Encarnacion had a very small sample size last season, but after the 2006 season we're starting to get a feel for how well he's able to work the count to his advantage, and the early numbers are very promising. Encarnacion has been able to work himself into a hitter's count over 40 percent of his total plate appearances, which is significantly better than the league average and also one of the best marks on the team. Combine this with his age, improving walk rate, and fantastic doubles rate, and it's easy to see why everybody is high on him as a hitter. His batting count data is just one more piece of positive evidence in Encarnacion's favor.

    Chris Denorfia has a tiny sample size, but what I'm seeing even in his tiny sample size is terrific. In his first 162 career MLB plate appearances, Denorfia has shown an excellent ability to get himself into hitting counts. Given his solid walk rate and on-base percentages in the minor leagues, this bodes well for a transition to the major leagues.

    Jeff Conine is right around league average, as is Javier Valentin, and David Ross is slightly below league average.

    The last three names on this list are terrifying, however. Juan Castro, Brandon Phillips, and Alex Gonzalez have done a terrible job at working themselves into hitting counts throughout their career. We know Castro's a lousy hitter so his name isn't at all surprising. However, Phillips and Gonzalez are specifically a problem considering they'll be pencilled in as regular players in 2007. Both have historically poor walk rates, historically poor on-base percentages, and as we can see, an historically poor ability at getting into hitter's counts. If one or both could do a better job at learning the strike zone, I'd feel a bit more comfortable with them at the plate.

    Now, the pitching counts ...
    Code:
    
    Player            PCPA     SLG    OPS    Total PA    PCPA %  PCPA+
    
    Adam Dunn          826    .300   .473      3464     23.845%   129
    Scott Hatteberg   1095    .294   .528      4384     24.977%   124
    Ken Griffey, Jr.  2402    .436   .681      9525     25.218%   122
    Jeff Conine       1920    .334   .562      7482     25.662%   120
    Chris Denorfia      43    .186   .302       162     26.543%   116
    Ryan Freel         470    .334   .602      1707     27.534%   112
    Edwin Encarnacion  196    .349   .594       697     28.121%   110
    Javier Valentin    363    .262   .427      1250     29.040%   106
    David Ross         231    .392   .578       771     29.961%   103
    Juan Castro        745    .290   .491      2255     33.038%    93
    Brandon Phillips   378    .286   .489      1039     36.381%    85
    Alex Gonzalez     1630    .297   .502      3886     41.945%    74
    Many of the same comments on each player in regards to getting into hitting counts also applies to avoiding pitcher counts. Dunn, Hatteberg, Griffey, Denorfia, Freel, and Encarnacion all do a very good job at getting into hitting counts and avoiding pitcher counts. For our young hitters in Encarnacion and Denorfia, this is an excellent sign.

    Jeff Conine, while roughly league average in getting into hitting counts, has shown a history of doing a very good job of avoiding pitcher counts. Javier Valentin and David Ross are both above average.

    Unfortunately, the same bottom trio strikes again, however, in Castro, Phillips, and Gonzalez. Once again, if one or both of our double-play combination of Phillips and Gonzalez could figure out the strike zone, it'd be a major asset to the team's offensive punch altogether.

    Finally, in terms of overall plate discipline as a whole, David Appelman recently posted an outstanding article on Fan Graphs where he takes a look factors such as contact percentage, zone percentage, and outside swing percentage.
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    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Dunn, Hatteberg, Griffey, and Freel all remain largely unchanged from the 2005 data, and all of them continued to do very well in getting into hitter's counts.
    Very interesting...but one quick question. If, as you stated, that Griffey continued to do very well in getting himself into hitters counts, what would account for his sub-par 2006 performance?

    Thanks for the knowledge.

  7. #51
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    Very interesting...but one quick question. If, as you stated, that Griffey continued to do very well in getting himself into hitters counts, what would account for his sub-par 2006 performance?

    Thanks for the knowledge.
    Loss of bat speed?
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  8. #52
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    Very interesting...but one quick question. If, as you stated, that Griffey continued to do very well in getting himself into hitters counts, what would account for his sub-par 2006 performance?

    Thanks for the knowledge.
    A very quick look shows Jr. at a BABIP of .251 coupled with a big spike in his GB% and a corresponding dip in his LD%. Basically he's topping the ball instead of squaring it up. Maybe it's luck, maybe it's a sign of real decline. Given the state of his legs, Junior needs to keep the ball off the ground.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/graphs.aspx...ge=0&type=full
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  9. #53
    Puffy's Daddy Red Leader's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    Very interesting...but one quick question. If, as you stated, that Griffey continued to do very well in getting himself into hitters counts, what would account for his sub-par 2006 performance?

    Thanks for the knowledge.
    I believe that data shows Griffey's career information. In other words, 2006's numbers weren't bad enough to pull Griffey's career numbers down.

    I'm not sure what Griffey's 2006 numbers looked like, as far as these stats are concerned, but if Griffey was getting into hitter's counts at a near 40% rate and into pitchers counts at a near 25% rate, then yeah, why were his numbers down in 2006? Specifically, why was his OBP% down so much considering his career numbers in hitter's counts. Is age really catching up to him that fast that he was unable to do much with pitches even when he was in a hitters count in 2006?
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    2 things:

    Both Griffey and Dunn had achieved lower stats than expected (bad luck). I wonder if an extreme shift cancels out a hitter squaring up on the ball. You can have a great line drive percentage, but if ya got to hit it through 19 fielders bunched all on the one side of the field where you hit the ball a high percentage of time -LD % may be impacted.

    Lastly, there's a good article by a guy name Sal Buxamusa at hardballtimes.com....it's about pitch sequencing and how perceptions change for the batter and the pitcher based on the most recent outcome.

    Gladwell or Levitt (can't remember which) talk about how people's perceptions change in major ways based on the most frequent outcome--they refer to a very painful surgery completed while a patient was awake -if the doctor did nothing for the last couple of minutes (vs a doc who hurried to get things done so as to allieviate the pain quicker)--well, most folks felt better about the doctor who just did nothing for a couple of minutes and then quit. Point being, people tend to look positively on the most recent event.

    What does that mean for a baseball player--i think it could mean a lot to a coach who is trying to engage how a player might feel about certain things and thus compensating for the players most recent outcome.

    I do know this, if the Bengals had won their last 3 games instead of losing the last 3 -we may feel a little better about their season.

  11. #55
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    Very interesting...but one quick question. If, as you stated, that Griffey continued to do very well in getting himself into hitters counts, what would account for his sub-par 2006 performance?

    Thanks for the knowledge.
    It's most likely a nasty combination of decline due to age with some bad luck mixed in. The fan graphs data that Rick posted is excellent, and it suggests quite a few possibilities. Loss of bat speed would screw up a batter's timing, result in fewer hard hit balls, and likely result in less solid contact being made (or failing to square pitches as often). Griffey could have suffered from one or all of those problems, and age is the ugly factor playing into all of them.

    Griffey's batting count data actually improved slightly in 2006.
    Code:
    
    Griffey             Career     2006
    
    Hitter Counts       39.56%    41.31%
    Pitcher Counts      25.22%    23.31%
    3-0 count            3.52%     3.81%
    3-1 count            5.48%     5.51%
    3-2 count           12.80%    11.86%
    
    non-IBB rate 3-0*    1.70      1.50
    non-IBB rate 3-1*    1.92      1.86
    non-IBB rate 3-2*    3.31      5.09
    
    Hitter Count OPS    1.127     1.050     
    Pitcher Count OPS    .681      .455
    Even Count OPS       .911      .770
    *Intentional walks and how they've been scored per count make it difficult to get non-IBB walk rates for some of the counts. It seems that some years they've been recorded as 0-0 counts and other years as 3-0 counts (unless the intentional walk starts on a different count when a team elects to walk a batter midway through a PA, which happens occasionally).

    One thing that I'm very certain did occur is that Griffey's walk rate faded a bit in 3-2 counts, which means he was chasing more pitches in 3-2 counts than he used to chase. If his walk rate in 3-2 counts and intentional walk rate remained at his career averages, then he'd have walked ~15 more times in 2006 with the same amount of playing time, and his 2006 on-base percentage would have been 20-30 points higher. His walk rate in 3-0 counts and 3-1 counts appears to have remained pretty consistent with his career averages.
    Last edited by Cyclone792; 01-02-2007 at 05:58 PM.
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    This has probably been mentioned somewhere, but I am struck by Dunn's poor OPS when in a pitcher's count. In comparison to the league he is solidly below average, and when you compare him to Griffey, Pujols, Bonds, and the like, his OPS is 200 points lower. Ouch. His OPS in comparison to the "big five" is on par when in a hitter's count, however, and above average.
    Thank goodness for baseball.

  13. #57
    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Quote Originally Posted by PickOff View Post
    This has probably been mentioned somewhere, but I am struck by Dunn's poor OPS when in a pitcher's count. In comparison to the league he is solidly below average, and when you compare him to Griffey, Pujols, Bonds, and the like, his OPS is 200 points lower. Ouch. His OPS in comparison to the "big five" is on par when in a hitter's count, however, and above average.
    I would assume most players have better numbers when the count is in their favor...the pitcher has to throw strikes.

    The difference between Dunn and the elite, IMO, is exactly what you bring out. When he is behind in the count he looks clueless most of the time. That why I personally HATE when he watches a fastball or two for strikes. Sure he may walk sometimes as a result of his patience, but I think he burns himself a lot more than he should with that approach.

  14. #58
    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Cyclone...it appears that this team will be in trouble in 2007 when they face pitchers who pound the strike zone.

    I guess the difference in Griffey's numbers comes down to when he is behind in the count. It looks like he is becoming more of a guess hitter as he gets older, as his bat speed cannot catch up to a fastball if he is thinking curveball and vice versa.

    Remember when he hit the GS off of Zumaya? I made a comment on the game thread that he was about to get blown away by a heater. Thinking about it more, he was all fastball on that pitch and he would have looked foolish on anything else.

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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    Not to be accused of beating a dead horse, but might this not be where preparation comes in to play. Knowing how a pitcher is going to try and get you out can go a long way towards keeping you from looking clueless.

  16. #60
    Passion for the game Team Clark's Avatar
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    Re: Digging Deep into Plate Discipline and Unlocking a Secret to Hitting

    The only factoring that I would like to see is what kind of an impact the umpire has on these scenarios and what pitching staffs are the best at keeping the HCPA lowest over a 3-4 year period. Then I'd like to see what the numbers are with all of those factors in place. Kind of like a 7 degrees but it would be fun. Great work as usual.
    It's absolutely pathetic that people can't have an opinion from actually watching games and supplementing that with stats. If you voice an opinion that doesn't fit into a black/white box you will get completely misrepresented and basically called a tobacco chewing traditionalist...
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Board Moderators may, at their discretion and judgment, delete and/or edit any messages that violate any of the following guidelines: 1. Explicit references to alleged illegal or unlawful acts. 2. Graphic sexual descriptions. 3. Racial or ethnic slurs. 4. Use of edgy language (including masked profanity). 5. Direct personal attacks, flames, fights, trolling, baiting, name-calling, general nuisance, excessive player criticism or anything along those lines. 6. Posting spam. 7. Each person may have only one user account. It is fine to be critical here - that's what this board is for. But let's not beat a subject or a player to death, please.

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