Saturday, October 27, 2007

Batted Ball Application

Billfer was saying this morning that he likes to look at spray charts of batted balls to see where hitters have the most success. So, he was happy to find that Dan Fox has developed an easier way to do that. Fox, who is a writer at Baseball prospectus and has his own blog, recently introduced his statistical application BIPChart that can be installed on a PC and used to look at player tendencies. This includes, what kind of balls players hit (ground ball, fly ball, pop up, line drive), where they hit the ball. (left field , center field, right field) and how successful they are in each situation.

Billfer used BIPChart to gather batted ball information on Brandon Inge, Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez. I will look at some other players later. The application is very easy to install and use and it's free so might want to play around with it yourself.

Before looking at individual players, I wanted to step back and look at some general tendencies. The conclusions were pretty intuitive but it was interesting to see the extent to which they were true. For example, what kind of balls are hit most often? Not surprisingly, Table 1 shows that the most common type of batted balls are ground balls, followed by fly balls, line drives and pop ups.

Table 1: Batted Ball types for all Batters

Ground balls

44.4%

Fly balls

28.5%

Pop ups

8.0%

Line drives

19.1%


We know that line drives are good but you might be surprised just how good. The question can be answered can be answered using batting average on balls in play (BABIP) for each batted ball type. The overall BABIP is .324. The BABIP for different types of batted balls are shown in Table 2:

Table 2: BABIP by Batted Ball Type

Ground balls

.238

Fly balls

.270

Pop ups

.020

Line drives

.733



We know that right-handed batters tend to hit the ball to left field while left-handed batters hit the ball right field but how extreme is the difference between the two? The difference is largest for ground balls (Table 3) with left-handed hitters hitting 60.8% of ground balls to the right side and 24.0% to left side. Right-handed batters, on the other hand hit 64.6% to the left-side and 20.9% to the right-side.

Table 3: Direction of Ground balls


LHB

RHB

LF

24.0%

64.6%

CF

15.2%

14.5%

RF

60.8%

20.9%


The tendency is less extreme on fly balls (Table 4) and line drives (Table 5). In fact, for both left-handed and right-handed batters, fly balls are hit to center field more often than to left or right.

Table 4: Direction of Fly balls


LHB

RHB

LF

39.0%

22.2%

CF

39.7%

40.1%

RF

21.3%

37.7%


Table 5: Direction of Line drives


LHB

RHB

LF

29.6%

41.6%

CF

29.5%

29.0%

RF

40.9%

29.4%


In Table 6, we can see that pop-ups are a little different. You have probably noticed that failed attempts to drive the ball somewhere often result in weak pop ups to the opposite side. The table illustrates how often this is true.

Table 6: Direction of Pop ups


LHB

RHB

LF

66.8%

28.5%

CF

8.2%

8.9%

RF

25.0%

62.5%


Finally, how good is it to hit ground balls up the middle? Table 7 illustrates that both left-handed and right-handed batters hit over .460 on those types of hits and under .230 on grounders hit to the left or right side.

Table 7: BABIP on Ground Balls by Direction


LHB

RHB

LF

.228

.202

CF

.463

.480

RF

.177

.198


There are no shocking revelations in this post but it's always nice to validate statistically what we already know to be true. Plus, these general charts should serve as a good baseline for player results which I'll explore in the future.

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