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Thread: What is a professional at-bat?

  1. #1
    Member texasdave's Avatar
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    Oct 2005

    What is a professional at-bat?

    One hears about certain players, normally vets nearing the end of their career, giving the team professional at-bats. What exactly does this mean? Do professional at-bats lead to a high OPS? I decided to look at the 2007 Reds since this team has a number of veteran players on it. Four categories were looked at.

    1)Does the at-bat end up in getting a 'good' pitch to hit? In an attempt to answer this a I calculated the percentage of balls put into play on hitter's counts. (as Jojo pointed out in another thread, a hitter's count is any count other than 0-2, 1-2 or 2-2) Hitting the ball on a hitter's count a high percentage of the time seems to be a fair way of assessing whether it was a 'good' pitch or not.

    2)Did the batter swing at the first pitch? There is quite a bit of grumbling when a batter goes up hacking at the first pitch he sees. Aside from the occasional fast ball right down Broadway, swinging at the first pitch doesn't seem to be an attribute of the professional at-bat. It doesn't work the pitcher and it only exposes a batter to one of the pitcher's pitches.

    3)Did the batter work the count? Working the count is said to both tire the pitcher and allow your teammates to see more of what that pitcher is throwing on any given night. Working the count may not pay be immediately beneficial, but should help out in the long run. How many times did the batter go deep into the count is looked at here.

    4)Does the at-bat end up in not making outs and acquiring bases? In the end results are what matter.

    Player	HC%		Player	1ST-P		Player	L-ABS		Player	OPS
    Hatte	78.2%		Moeller	4.7%		Ross	42.1%		Junior	0.960
    Valent	77.4%		Ross	9.4%		Junior	41.3%		Dunn	0.937
    Conine	72.8%		Hatte	9.8%		Dunn	40.3%		Hambo	0.879
    Hopper	71.8%		Junior	10.0%		Freel	35.2%		Hatte	0.823
    Junior	71.4%		Dunn	10.5%		Hatte	32.6%		B.Phil	0.801
    Castro	67.4%		Freel	10.7%		Hambo	32.4%		Conine	0.781
    Hambo	64.5%		A.Gonz	10.7%		EdE	30.8%		A.Gonz	0.758
    EdE	63.5%		EdE	12.2%		Conine	28.3%		Valent	0.738
    Freel	63.3%		B.Phil	13.1%		Valent	25.9%		EdE	0.723
    A.Gonz	62.5%		ROT	14.0%		B.Phil	23.2%		Freel	0.676
    Dunn	61.6%		Castro	14.6%		A.Gonz	22.0%		Hopper	0.643
    B.Phil	61.6%		Hambo	16.6%		Castro	20.2%		Ross	0.643
    Ross	58.9%		Hopper	18.8%		Hopper	18.6%		Moeller	0.476
    Moeller	51.2%		Valent	19.0%		ROT	16.3%		Castro	0.427
    ROT	51.1%		Conine	20.3%		Moeller	14.9%		ROT	N/A
    TEAM	65.0%		TEAM	12.5%		TEAM	29.9%		TEAM	0.756
    LEAGUE	65.4%		LEAGUE	12.4%		LEAGUE	29.7%		LEAGUE	0.737
    CIN-OPS	64.5%		CIN-OPS	12.1%		CIN-OPS	23.8%		CIN-OPS	0.774
    Hitter's count percentage: This is all over the map. Hatte leads this category and is noted for his professional approach. It interesting to note that a free-swinger such as Phillips ends up with the exact same HC% as Dunn, since their approaches at the plate are fairly different. As can be quickly seen a number of hitters who put the ball into play on a high percentage of hitter's counts are not getting the results that one might expect.

    First pitch hackers: Does Chad Moeller think that Dan O'brien is still the GM and he isn't allowed to swing at the first pitch? Maybe it is due to limited PAs but he is one odd duck. He rarely swings at the first pitch and yet rarely has a long at-bat. He must have excellent hand-eye coordination. Conine really hacks at the first pitch. Wow. Just the opposite of what I would think a seasoned vet would do. Since 0-0 is a hitter's count you can see that the players that put the ball into play on the first pitch also rank highly on the HC% list. Although this may not be the best hitting approach.

    Long ABs: These are the percentage of ABs that went at least five pitches. (I had no way of tracking foul balls so this category might be skewed slightly)
    Aside from Moeller there are no big surprises here except one might have thought Jeff Conine would work the count more. But he doesn't. A quick note is that EdE is pretty much in the middle of the pack in all four categories.

    Results: In the end this is the only category that matters. And it really can not be predicted very well using the first three criteria. Adam Dunn and David Ross are very similar in their approaches at the plate, and yet the results are near the opposite ends of the spectrum.

    If you were to pick out the professional hitters using all four criteria, Reds' Junior and Hatte would be logical choices. They score well in all four. For being young players, both Hamilton and Encarnacion show promise.

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  3. #2
    BobC, get a legit F.O.! Mario-Rijo's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Springfield, Ohio

    Re: What is a professional at-bat?

    The short version is whatever you need out of that particular at bat given the circumstances of the AB and/or the game. And if you can't get what you need for that AB you get the next best thing and so on. That would be my position on it.
    "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

    --Woody Hayes

  4. #3
    nothing more than a fan Always Red's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Cincy West and WNC

    Re: What is a professional at-bat?

    In my view, a professional AB is a patient AB.

    Your goal as a hitter is to not make an out. If the pitcher will pitch to you, the first pitch you see might be your best; if he won't pitch to you, you wait.

    On this team, watch Hatte, Junior and Dunn to see consistent professional AB's.

    As you note, EE and Hammy will be patient on occasion, but not consistently.
    sorry we're boring

  5. #4
    Knowledge Is Good Big Klu's Avatar
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    Oct 2000
    Cambridge, OH

    Re: What is a professional at-bat?

    I blame Bob Boone. He was the first person I ever heard use the phrase.
    Last edited by Big Klu; 06-29-2007 at 08:54 PM.
    Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. Damn glad to meet ya.

  6. #5
    Member Spitball's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2000

    Re: What is a professional at-bat?

    What is a professional at-bat? Plain and simple, the batter works the count to his favor. He then gains the advantage because the pitcher must come into the strike zone. If the pitcher gets ahead, he can expand the zone, and the batter must protect against the called strike.
    "I am your child from the future. I'm sorry I didn't tell you this earlier." - Dylan Easton

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: What is a professional at-bat?

    You know who does NOT give a professional AB? Probably the guy that it is mentioned about the most. JEFF CONINE. I HATE his AB's. He swings at everything.

    I would take Hatte's AB's all day long. He is a pro batter. Gets good results, makes contact, sees a ton of pitches.

  8. #7
    Your killin' me Smalls! StillFunkyB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Florence, KY

    Re: What is a professional at-bat?

    Quote Originally Posted by AvesIce51 View Post
    You know who does NOT give a professional AB? Probably the guy that it is mentioned about the most. JEFF CONINE. I HATE his AB's. He swings at everything.

    I would take Hatte's AB's all day long. He is a pro batter. Gets good results, makes contact, sees a ton of pitches.
    I was thinking the same thing re: Conine.

    I had a coach in little league that used to tell us in batting practice, swing at everything. Sometimes I wonder if Conine had the same coach!

  9. #8
    MLB Baseball Razor Shines's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Austin, Texas

    Re: What is a professional at-bat?

    What is a professional at-bat?
    It's something you say when you have to fill air time between pitches, during certain player's ABs.
    "I know a lot about the law and various other lawyerings."

    Hitters who avoid outs are the funnest.

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