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Thread: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABIP

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABIP

    Interesting studies. I've been reading through them. Not sure I fully understand everything put forth here, but I do find it very interesting.

    Part I:

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...rticleid=15532

    Part II:

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...rticleid=15562
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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Fascinating stuff. Looks like there will be a new breakthrough in understanding the game based on this new technology.

    For those not up to date on this discussion, the first part of the first article does an outstanding job of summing up the history of the discussion up to now.

    Thanks Savafan!
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    I've moved this discussion to this thread, since it makes more sense here. Btw, if you read these articles, you might change your mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    That's not a logical fallacy. Given enough time, a pitcher's babip tends to regress to .300. While it may ultimately be shown to not be completely accurate, it's the most logical conclusion to hold that pitchers exert little control over whether a batted ball is a hit or not absent evidence to the contrary.
    I'm not following this argument. If a pitcher could significantly effect his babip, then why wouldn't this effect become more apparent as his seasons piled up?
    I'd love to trade often with the GM who holds the latter philosophy.
    Just repeating myself here, but one argument is that it would become more apparent if more pitchers who are bad at it continued to pitch. If that happened, the range would be much bigger. But those who are bad at it, don't last long enough for their data to be included.

    As for the "given enough time" argument, given enough time, pitcher's HR/9 will be around 1. Does that mean that pitchers can't control how many HR's they give up? No, it just means that in order to stay in the majors, you have to be good at controlling it.
    Last edited by 757690; 11-23-2011 at 03:57 AM.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    I've moved this discussion to this thread, since it makes more sense here. Btw, if you read these articles, you might change your mind.
    I have read he articles as I've been pouring over these type of studies before saber metrics was cool.

    Just repeating myself here, but one argument is that it would become more apparent if more pitchers who are bad at it continued to pitch. If that happened, the range would be much bigger. But those who are bad at it, don't last long enough for their data to be included.
    But we know that there are plenty of bad pitchers in the majors at any given time. The Reds organisation has been a feeder system for just that during much of the lost decade. Clearly pitchers who aren't major league quality or good pitchers regressing to he point of being done will get their packing papers. That still does not explain why a pitcher's babip regresses back to .300 pretty rapidly after a significant deviation. There would seem to be two logical conclusions. First pitchers don't possess a significant enough ability to control babip for it to be reliably detectable statistically without huge sample sizes. Second, all major league quality pitchers must have a roughly similar ability to influence babip.

    In either case (and I suppose they aren't mutually exclusive), babip wouldn't be a very useful tool to evaluate pitchers outright because it simply doesn't have alot of power (doesnt allow for selection).

    Where babip could be useful in informing decisions would be in a situation like Harang. He had good peripherals over his last few seasons with the Reds but these seemed to outperform his actual performance (i.e you'd likely draw different conclusions about his future depending upon whether one looked at his FIP or is ERA). His peripherals also seemed to outperform the eye when watching him. Was his outcome poor luck or was it something legitimate that effected his effectiveness in a meaningful way that would suggest his true talent level had changed? To me, that is the lump that the Fast articles are poking at and where some real progress can and needs to be made.

    As for the "given enough time" argument, given enough time, pitcher's HR/9 will be around 1. Does that mean that pitchers can't control how many HR's they give up? No, it just means that in order to stay in the majors, you have to be good at controlling it.
    I don't believe this to be true at all. A pitcher's hr/9 does not necessarily regress to 1.
    Last edited by jojo; 11-23-2011 at 08:27 AM.
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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    I have read he articles as I've been pouring over these type of studies before saber metrics was cool.



    But we know that there are plenty of bad pitchers in the majors at any given time. The Reds organisation has been a feeder system for just that during much of the lost decade. Clearly pitchers who aren't major league quality or good pitchers regressing to he point of being done will get their packing papers. That still does not explain why a pitcher's babip regresses back to .300 pretty rapidly after a significant deviation. There would seem to be two logical conclusions. First pitchers don't possess a significant enough ability to control babip for it to be reliably detectable statistically without huge sample sizes. Second, all major league quality pitchers must have a roughly similar ability to influence babip.

    In either case (and I suppose they aren't mutually exclusive), babip wouldn't be a very useful tool to evaluate pitchers outright because it simply doesn't have alot of power (doesnt allow for selection).

    Where babip could be useful in informing decisions would be in a situation like Harang. He had good peripherals over his last few seasons with the Reds but these seemed to outperform his actual performance (i.e you'd likely draw different conclusions about his future depending upon whether one looked at his FIP or is ERA). His peripherals also seemed to outperform the eye when watching him. Was is outcome poor luck or was it something legitimate that effected his effectiveness in a meaningful wy tht would suggest his true talent level had changed? To me, that is the lump that the Fast articles are poking at and where some real progress can and needs to be made.



    I don't believe this to be true at all. A pitcher's hr/9 does not necessarily regress to 1.
    Last part first, the range of HR/9 for starting pitchers in the league for 10 or more years is the same as the range of BABIP for the same pitchers. I'm off to work so I don't have time to list them, but it doesn't take long, there aren't that many.

    And I am not arguing about the value of using BABIP or DIPS or whatever in evaluating players. I use them all the time.

    I was making more of a linguistic argument, which you summarized quote well in you explanations of the two logical conclusions. I just believe in the second option.

    I think it's clear that pitchers can control their BABIP, and that only the ones that can do it well, last long enough. The best proof is this.

    If Jason Vargas threw nothing but fastballs down the middle of the plate, his BABIP and his LD rate would go through the roof. He lowers them, that is controls them, but throwing other pitches, in other locations, at different speeds. And who are the pitchers who succeed? Not the one that only throw hard, but the ones that pitch well.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    If pitchers can control their babip, why do they allow it to settle at a level where a batter would be considered an all-star based upon batting average?
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    Last part first, the range of HR/9 for starting pitchers in the league for 10 or more years is the same as the range of BABIP for the same pitchers. I'm off to work so I don't have time to list them, but it doesn't take long, there aren't that many.
    Did you really mean to reference HR/FB%?

    A pitcher's hr/9 is a function of his batted ball tendencies (how many fly balls he yields) and his HR/FB%.

    A pitcher's batted ball tendencies is a repeatable skill that is largely a function of his repertoire and his stuff. Meanwhile is hr/fb% will tend to regress to a league average of 10% (i.e. he oesnt really exert much control over this).

    Thus a pitcher's hr/9 wouldn't be expected to regress to 1 without a mitigating factor. For instance when looking at starting pitchers with the highest ground ball percentages between 2007 and 2011, precious few in the top 50 have a hr/9 of 1 or greater.....
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    If pitchers can control their babip, why do they allow it to settle at a level where a batter would be considered an all-star based upon batting average?
    If pitchers can control HR's, why do they allow any?

    Pitchers clearly control BABIP, the issue, as with all stats, is how much they control it.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post

    Pitchers clearly control BABIP, the issue, as with all stats, is how much they control it.

    It's not so clear to most of us.

    I think the best you can say is that there may be a few pitchers who have been able to control BABIP to a marginal degree.

    But when I see Pedro Martinez in 1999 going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA with a 13.20 K/9, a 1.56 W/9 and a 0.38 HR/9, with undoubtedly the majors best stuff, yielding a BABIP that year of .323 (the highest of his career), it tells be that even the pitcher with the majors best stuff, enjoying his best year in the majors, had zero control over BABIP.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    The main takeaway I got from the linked articles is that pitchers do have measurable control over how hard the ball is hit when one of their pitches is hit. That won't always reflect in BABIP, but the more likely effect is in what type of hits are allowed. I wonder if anyone's broken down SLGBIP as thoroughly as BABIP?
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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Baseball is a game of skill. I think we have to start with the assumption that pitchers have control over the ball in play, and statistical analysis has failed to measure it. I donít think BAPiP works, because it does not consider what the pitcher is trying to do in each AB. Baseball is made up of many unique events, statistical analysis that treats every event (AB) as the same can result in incorrect conclusions.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    If pitchers can control HR's, why do they allow any?
    Pitchers "control" the amount of HR's allowed based on the idea that pitchers, in a nuetral HR park, tend to give up a HR once every 10 fly balls and that pitchers can typically control the amount of fly balls they give up. That is where they "control" it.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    It's not so clear to most of us.

    I think the best you can say is that there may be a few pitchers who have been able to control BABIP to a marginal degree.

    But when I see Pedro Martinez in 1999 going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA with a 13.20 K/9, a 1.56 W/9 and a 0.38 HR/9, with undoubtedly the majors best stuff, yielding a BABIP that year of .323 (the highest of his career), it tells be that even the pitcher with the majors best stuff, enjoying his best year in the majors, had zero control over BABIP.
    Nope, doesn't say that at all. It just says that he was very good at other things, and not very good at this one thing for that year.

    In 1965, Bob Gibson lead the league in homers, and had almost double his career rate of HR/9, and yet he had a great year other wise, with one of his highest K totals ever. Does that mean that he can't control his HR's?
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    Nope, doesn't say that at all. It just says that he was very good at other things, and not very good at this one thing for that year.
    So he was very good at every thing other than allowing hits on balls hit into play. Why would a pitcher with trhe best stuff in the league at the time, who had all world swing and miss abilty and control, be so bad at such a thing?

    Randomness is the only logical answer.

    In every other year, he had less swing and miss abilty, less abilty to allow HR's and less control, but was better at allowing less hits on balls hit into play.

    I'm not buying it.

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    Re: Who controls how hard ball is hit, and how does quality of contact relate to BABI

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    So he was very good at every thing other than allowing hits on balls hit into play. Why would a pitcher with trhe best stuff in the league at the time, who had all world swing and miss abilty and control, be so bad at such a thing?

    Randomness is the only logical answer.

    In every other year, he had less swing and miss abilty, less abilty to allow HR's and less control, but was better at allowing less hits on balls hit into play.

    I'm not buying it.
    Why in the world would the best pitcher in baseball in 1965 all of the sudden become the worst in the league at allowing HR's?

    I'm not saying randomness wasn't involved with Pedro, I'm must saying that we can't conclude that he had no control over who got hits over the balls in play that year, just like we can't conclude that Gibson had no control over how many HR's he gave up.

    You are completely missing my point.

    My only point is that we can not conclude that pitchers have no control over their BABIP. In fact, all the evidence and logic shows that they do have control over it. The issue is how much control do they have over it.

    Again, assume that Mike Leake throws nothing but fastballs over the heart of the plate. His BABIP and his LD rate would go through the roof, it would be the highest ever for a MLB pitcher.

    However, he can lower that BABIP and LD rate, meaning he can control it, by throwing other pitches, in other locations, at various speeds, which is what he does, as do all other pitchers. They control their LD rate, and their BABIP by using different pitches, at different times, in different locations, at different speeds.

    And the pitchers who are good at it, stick around, and their data gets analyzed. Those that aren't good at it, don't stick around, and we never use their data.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.


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