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Thread: Balls in play... who's responsible?

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    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Balls in play... who's responsible?

    So I have a baseball-related research project I'm going to start working on soon, and a portion of it will involve having to draw the line between pitcher & fielder and how much credit should go to each for balls in play.

    I'm curious at getting opinions on this from folks here. How much credit/blame should pitchers get for line drives? Pop-ups? Grounders? Flyballs? And how much, then, should go to the fielders who make or don't make a play on a ball?

    The early sabermetric movement concluded that not much, if any, credit should go to pitchers for what happens in the field of play. Now there is a thought that pitchers can control a lot more than was originally believed.

    My stance is that infield flys are mostly the work of a pitcher (unless an error occurs) and line drives should largely be assigned to a pitcher. But grounders and flyballs in the field of play seem to be a tougher call.

    So I'm curious A) how you would assign such credit/blame and/or B) how you would advise researching this to derive at a proper ratio.

    If you want to know more about the project, feel free to get in touch, especially if you are interested in helping. This is really not the primary focus but for what I'm trying to do, it's important.

    Would love to get some feedback, though.
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    I don't think pitchers can control their line drive rate.

    I know this sounds implausible, but if a pitcher could, he could control BABIP.

    About 70% of line drives go for hits, well more than groundballs and fly balls. So, any pitcher controlling his line drive rate would have to control his BABIP.

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    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    I don't think pitchers can control their line drive rate.

    I know this sounds implausible, but if a pitcher could, he could control BABIP.

    About 70% of line drives go for hits, well more than groundballs and fly balls. So, any pitcher controlling his line drive rate would have to control his BABIP.
    Hasn't there been studies that suggest some pitchers carry higher LD rates than others? I may have to look further into that, but I could have sworn I saw a few along those lines.
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

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    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    I never got BABIP. Who Cares? All the juicy info is stripped out before you ever get started.

    I have always been of the mind that slugging %tage or total bases against the pitcher had to be part of the equasion to differentiate.

    Two guys may have a .315 BABIP, but one is giving up a ton of doubles/triples while the other guy is giving up singles shows me one guys is getting hit harder than the other even if the BABIP is equal.

    Frankly, I aways thought it was stupid to exlude HRs. Thats a hit, and a big one that the pitcher gave up and he had full control of it. It ought to count against him.

    GL

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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    I have no idea the answer to your question Brutus, but I've asked myself similar questions all the time...can't wait to see what you find.

    The one question I've wondered lately is how much credit should be given to a hitter on a base hit up the middle?

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    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    PP, here is one of the articles I read several months ago that examined batted ball speed using hit FX data. This concluded that pitchers influenced batted ball speed about 1.7 times more than hitters did.

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/ar...rticleid=15562
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    I would argue that separating responsibility based on the type of batted ball is a flawed approach. Thinking specifically of what the pitcher does to influence those things, it comes down to two basic types of influence:

    (Up and down) Do hitters tend to make contact above the ball, below the ball or a typical mix of the two? This determines whether batted balls tend to be grounders, flies or liners.

    For example
    Very top of the ball: Weakly hit grounder/beat in to the ground
    Top half of the ball: Normal grounder
    Center of the ball: Line drive
    Bottom half of the ball: Normal flyball
    Very bottom of the ball: Pop-up

    The reason LD% seem to be out of the pitcher's hands is a function of the nature of the physics involved. Pitchers will have distributions of missing bats high to low and some have a distribution shifted to one end, but all of them have a piece of that distribution that covers the middle of the ball. And when contact is made on the middle of the ball, a line drive results.

    (Side to side) Do hitters tend to make toward the end of the bat, square on, or get jammed? This determines how hard guys tend to hit the ball.

    I think this is the piece of the responsibility equation where the least work has been done. Do certain pitchers have the ability induce "weak" contact. Presumably the answer is yes. And presumably, weak contact is much easier to field that hard contact. This is where field f/x is going to be huge.
    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.

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    Et tu, Brutus? Brutus's Avatar
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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I would argue that separating responsibility based on the type of batted ball is a flawed approach. Thinking specifically of what the pitcher does to influence those things, it comes down to two basic types of influence:

    (Up and down) Do hitters tend to make contact above the ball, below the ball or a typical mix of the two? This determines whether batted balls tend to be grounders, flies or liners.

    For example
    Very top of the ball: Weakly hit grounder/beat in to the ground
    Top half of the ball: Normal grounder
    Center of the ball: Line drive
    Bottom half of the ball: Normal flyball
    Very bottom of the ball: Pop-up

    The reason LD% seem to be out of the pitcher's hands is a function of the nature of the physics involved. Pitchers will have distributions of missing bats high to low and some have a distribution shifted to one end, but all of them have a piece of that distribution that covers the middle of the ball. And when contact is made on the middle of the ball, a line drive results.

    (Side to side) Do hitters tend to make toward the end of the bat, square on, or get jammed? This determines how hard guys tend to hit the ball.

    I think this is the piece of the responsibility equation where the least work has been done. Do certain pitchers have the ability induce "weak" contact. Presumably the answer is yes. And presumably, weak contact is much easier to field that hard contact. This is where field f/x is going to be huge.
    I agree with all that, Rick, but at this point until the fielding f/x data is public, we're left to work with what we have.

    But what you say makes sense from a pitcher's perspective, doesn't the ball type also influence how much ability for a fielder there is to field the ball? Obviously the angle and velocity off a bat can drastically impact the likelihood a fielder has of making a play on the ball. And hit types are a fairly decent starter in grouping those, at least until the f/x data is available.

    For instance, since between 70-80 percent of line drives fall for hits, I guess my question is should that burden fall exclusively on the pitcher or should we hold fielders somewhat accountable for the balls that do or don't fall in?
    "No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference." ~Tommy Lasorda

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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by gonelong View Post
    I never got BABIP. Who Cares? All the juicy info is stripped out before you ever get started.

    I have always been of the mind that slugging %tage or total bases against the pitcher had to be part of the equasion to differentiate.

    Two guys may have a .315 BABIP, but one is giving up a ton of doubles/triples while the other guy is giving up singles shows me one guys is getting hit harder than the other even if the BABIP is equal.

    Frankly, I aways thought it was stupid to exlude HRs. Thats a hit, and a big one that the pitcher gave up and he had full control of it. It ought to count against him.

    GL
    Why would you include HR's on a stat that measures "balls hit into play".

    You don't factor HR's allowed in measuring a pitchers K-rate.

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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I would argue that separating responsibility based on the type of batted ball is a flawed approach. Thinking specifically of what the pitcher does to influence those things, it comes down to two basic types of influence:

    (Up and down) Do hitters tend to make contact above the ball, below the ball or a typical mix of the two? This determines whether batted balls tend to be grounders, flies or liners.

    For example
    Very top of the ball: Weakly hit grounder/beat in to the ground
    Top half of the ball: Normal grounder
    Center of the ball: Line drive
    Bottom half of the ball: Normal flyball
    Very bottom of the ball: Pop-up

    The reason LD% seem to be out of the pitcher's hands is a function of the nature of the physics involved. Pitchers will have distributions of missing bats high to low and some have a distribution shifted to one end, but all of them have a piece of that distribution that covers the middle of the ball. And when contact is made on the middle of the ball, a line drive results.

    (Side to side) Do hitters tend to make toward the end of the bat, square on, or get jammed? This determines how hard guys tend to hit the ball.

    I think this is the piece of the responsibility equation where the least work has been done. Do certain pitchers have the ability induce "weak" contact. Presumably the answer is yes. And presumably, weak contact is much easier to field that hard contact. This is where field f/x is going to be huge.
    I suggest putting this post in the archives. Outstanding summation of a complex issue.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    Why would you include HR's on a stat that measures "balls hit into play".
    I like HRs.

    GL

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    Re: Balls in play... who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    I would argue that separating responsibility based on the type of batted ball is a flawed approach. Thinking specifically of what the pitcher does to influence those things, it comes down to two basic types of influence:

    (Up and down) Do hitters tend to make contact above the ball, below the ball or a typical mix of the two? This determines whether batted balls tend to be grounders, flies or liners.

    For example
    Very top of the ball: Weakly hit grounder/beat in to the ground
    Top half of the ball: Normal grounder
    Center of the ball: Line drive
    Bottom half of the ball: Normal flyball
    Very bottom of the ball: Pop-up

    The reason LD% seem to be out of the pitcher's hands is a function of the nature of the physics involved. Pitchers will have distributions of missing bats high to low and some have a distribution shifted to one end, but all of them have a piece of that distribution that covers the middle of the ball. And when contact is made on the middle of the ball, a line drive results.

    (Side to side) Do hitters tend to make toward the end of the bat, square on, or get jammed? This determines how hard guys tend to hit the ball.

    I think this is the piece of the responsibility equation where the least work has been done. Do certain pitchers have the ability induce "weak" contact. Presumably the answer is yes. And presumably, weak contact is much easier to field that hard contact. This is where field f/x is going to be huge.
    RMR, are you saying that a pitcher has little control over the up and down component of batter contact?
    How do we know he's not Mel Torme?


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