If a hitter has a high percentage of called strikes when s/he bats, does it show anything? How about if the hitter has a low contact percentage when s/he swings?

Original Post

The first pitch might be a strike, but if it had a weird spin on it my son isn't going after it until he's got two strikes on him.  Based on the fact we don't track "weird spin" data I'm going to say called strikes don't show anything about the batter.

Swings and misses show the ball is not where the batter thought it was.  If a batter can't tell where the ball is they are not going to be an effective batter.

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The first part can be a result of factors out of the hitter's control. Many HS coaches want players to take a pitch, particularly if they are leading off.

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Stats - an interesting question.  There might be too many variables to calculate a meaningful number without breaking players down into groups.  IMO players come in 4 types types - 1) Can't hit much - 1/3 to 40% of HS players 2) Can hit a little - can handle low 80's and hanging breaking balls another 40% - 50% of HS players 3)  Good hitters - Can handle mid to upper 80's and stay back on breaking pitches - 10% of HS players and then 4) Next level players - doesn't matter what you have they will get their hits.  +/- 5% of HS players.

Then you have to factor in coaches.  The first ball/fast ball crew.  They take good and next level hitters and coach them down to the other 80%.  This is particularly true if coach is a screamer and gets frustrated on fastball Strike 1's.  The flip side of this guy is the let's play for walks or to get into the bullpen coach.  He has hitters sitting there taking pitches and then getting behind in the count.

Then there are the coaches that have a real idea of what each player is capable of and recognizes the opponent for what they are.  The real hitters are free to hack when they see something they like.  After that it becomes situational.  Take some if the pitcher has bad mechanics and is on the wild side.  Look for guys that can't throw breaking balls for strikes and try to get ahead.  In other words give the weaker players a clue to what is going on.

The one stat that I am sure has relevance is the swing and miss.  High ratios here mean the batter just doesn't make enough contact - especially if it is against pitchers of all types.  If a player shows that once velocity goes above low 80's he's overmatched that is good to know.

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JCG posted:

The first part can be a result of factors out of the hitter's control. Many HS coaches want players to take a pitch, particularly if they are leading off.

Agreed, there MAY be factors out of the hitter’s control that affect it. But wouldn’t that be found out rather early in the process of identifying a problem?

That also brings up a good question. You say “Many HS coaches want players to take a pitch, particularly if they are leading off.” I know that’s something believed by a great many people, but how prevalent is it really?

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Anecdotally I would say it's pretty common. My kid moved from 2nd to 1st in his team's lineup halfway through this season, and I don't think he's swung at a first pitch since.   He's doing well but he'd rather bat second.

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JCG posted:

Anecdotally I would say it's pretty common. My kid moved from 2nd to 1st in his team's lineup halfway through this season, and I don't think he's swung at a first pitch since.   He's doing well but he'd rather bat second.

I really don’t know how prevalent it is, but I think if a coach does it on a “blanket” basis he’s making a mistake. I believe you have to really know your hitters well. the attached comes from 10 years of HSV data. The 1st 3 pages are hitters and the last 2 pitchers.

Knowing that getting behind 0-1 or ahead 1-0 makes a huge difference in the outcome of the AB, I see no sense in risking the AB for any but the very best hitters, and most teams don’t have a lot of them.

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A high percentage of called strikes could be the coach's or the player's hitting approach. It could be where the hitter is situated in the batting order. If a hitter is in a slump it might suggest he's not aggressive enough. He's taking too many strikes. In the big picture I would be more concerned about called third strike percentage of overall at bats.

Low percentage of contact when swinging is a red flag. Only a #2 hitter might be swinging through pitches more often to protect the lead off hitter stealing.

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RJM posted:

A high percentage of called strikes could be the coach's or the player's hitting approach. It could be where the hitter is situated in the batting order. If a hitter is in a slump it might suggest he's not aggressive enough. He's taking too many strikes. In the big picture I would be more concerned about called third strike percentage of overall at bats.

Low percentage of contact when swinging is a red flag. Only a #2 hitter might be swinging through pitches more often to protect the lead off hitter stealing.

RJM nailed it. It is not good for current performance, and it is a bad sign with respect to ability to move up to the next level (whether that is LL to freshman ball, JV to varsity, etc., etc.).

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Speaking of K's:

Kid on my son's team hitting .458, OBP .506, SLG .542, OPS 1.048.  Leading league or among leaders in most offensive categories going up against lots of future D1 players.  But has 9K in 72AB.   Would you think that's an anomaly or bad sign?

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JCG posted:

Speaking of K's:

Kid on my son's team hitting .458, OBP .506, SLG .542, OPS 1.048.  Leading league or among leaders in most offensive categories going up against lots of future D1 players.  But has 9K in 72AB.   Would you think that's an anomaly or bad sign?

Of those 9K's how many were called third strikes? I know a kid who has very few strikeouts, typically when it does happen it is because the ump and him had a difference of opinion on what the strike zone was.

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I agree that called strike can be part of something out of the hitter's control but there are a lot of time in which hitter's themselves choose to take strikes.  In these situations this tells me the hitter could be to picky or passive.

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JCG posted:

Speaking of K's:

Kid on my son's team hitting .458, OBP .506, SLG .542, OPS 1.048.  Leading league or among leaders in most offensive categories going up against lots of future D1 players.  But has 9K in 72AB.   Would you think that's an anomaly or bad sign?

That's not too bad, especially with that kind of production. To assess it more accurately, you'd have to look more closely -- is it against the future D1 guys that he is striking out frequently?  For example, if 20 of those 72 ABs were against future D1 pitchers, and he had struck out in 9 of those 20 at-bats, that might be a little worrisome for future projectability.

Also he doesn't hit for a heckuva lot of power -- looks to be about 27 singles, 6 doubles -- so he needs high contact skills .  . .

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I don't think CG tracks that Caco, but I'm guessing there are a few of those, but probably more times getting fooled by off speed stuff.

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That's not too bad, especially with that kind of production. To assess it more accurately, you'd have to look more closely -- is it against the future D1 guys that he is striking out frequently?  …

Does any software or anyone track whether a pitcher is a “future D1 guy”?

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Stats4Gnats posted:

Does any software or anyone track whether a pitcher is a “future D1 guy”?

LOL

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Stats4Gnats posted:

That's not too bad, especially with that kind of production. To assess it more accurately, you'd have to look more closely -- is it against the future D1 guys that he is striking out frequently?  …

Does any software or anyone track whether a pitcher is a “future D1 guy”?

I don't know about software or tracking of pitchers -- that sounds like it's more up your alley, Stats -- but the question said that the hitter was going up against lots of future D1 players, so I can only assume that the person asking the question would know who those pitchers are. And with 72 ABs for one hitter during one high school season, it wouldn't be too hard to figure out how that hitter did against specific pitchers.

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I don't know about software or tracking of pitchers -- that sounds like it's more up your alley, Stats -- but the question said that the hitter was going up against lots of future D1 players, so I can only assume that the person asking the question would know who those pitchers are. And with 72 ABs for one hitter during one high school season, it wouldn't be too hard to figure out how that hitter did against specific pitchers.

Well, it’s always great to poke a little fun at what people sometimes say, and that’s what I was doing with the question I asked. I don’t know of any way to pull out the ABs against a future D1 pitcher without first identifying those pitchers, and I wouldn’t know of any way to do that without a heck of a lot of digging.

I think the general point that was trying to be made was that there is a difference in performance depending on the pitching faced, and in general I think that’s true. The question is, even if those “top” pitchers can be identified and the ABs against them segregated, how much more accurate is it than looking at all the ABs against all the pitchers faced? Another question would be: “If going 10-30 against really good pitching is good, what would you call going 10-30 against weak pitching?”

The implication is, good hitters blast weak pitchers into oblivion. While that may be true in some cases, it definitely isn’t true across the board. FI, our team has truly weak pitching with an ERA of 10.48, giving up 307 runs in 146.67 innings, and an opponent’s BA of .382. It should be obvious our guys get hit hard by both strong and weak hitters, but be that as it may, they’ve also gotten 443 outs, and those outs weren’t only against weak hitters.

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Stats4Gnats posted:

Well, it’s always great to poke a little fun at what people sometimes say, and that’s what I was doing with the question I asked. I don’t know of any way to pull out the ABs against a future D1 pitcher without first identifying those pitchers, and I wouldn’t know of any way to do that without a heck of a lot of digging.

I'm suspecting this is along the lines of why PG is now willing to host 9u-17u tourneys, DATA, DATA, DATA.....

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Stats4Gnats posted:

I don't know about software or tracking of pitchers -- that sounds like it's more up your alley, Stats -- but the question said that the hitter was going up against lots of future D1 players, so I can only assume that the person asking the question would know who those pitchers are. And with 72 ABs for one hitter during one high school season, it wouldn't be too hard to figure out how that hitter did against specific pitchers.

Well, it’s always great to poke a little fun at what people sometimes say, and that’s what I was doing with the question I asked. I don’t know of any way to pull out the ABs against a future D1 pitcher without first identifying those pitchers, and I wouldn’t know of any way to do that without a heck of a lot of digging.

I think the general point that was trying to be made was that there is a difference in performance depending on the pitching faced, and in general I think that’s true. The question is, even if those “top” pitchers can be identified and the ABs against them segregated, how much more accurate is it than looking at all the ABs against all the pitchers faced? Another question would be: “If going 10-30 against really good pitching is good, what would you call going 10-30 against weak pitching?”

The implication is, good hitters blast weak pitchers into oblivion. While that may be true in some cases, it definitely isn’t true across the board. FI, our team has truly weak pitching with an ERA of 10.48, giving up 307 runs in 146.67 innings, and an opponent’s BA of .382. It should be obvious our guys get hit hard by both strong and weak hitters, but be that as it may, they’ve also gotten 443 outs, and those outs weren’t only against weak hitters.

Along the same lines, I have heard that MLB scouting departments, when evaluating college hitters, look at their performance vs. Friday night starters to gain insight into how they do against better pitchers.

Maybe the sample sizes in high school are too small, but I think you're overestimating the difficulty of identifying the pitchers committed to D1 schools. The info is readily available on PG, and the kids all seem to know, anyway . . . And at least within one's own league, the info seems to be widely known -- just off the top of my head, I can think of 9 current pitchers signed (6 are seniors) or committed (3 are underclassmen) to D1 schools in 2019Son's high school's league. I'm sure there are more -- some additional underclassmen, for example, who are currently uncommitted -- but I think the bigger problem in the context of high school is sample sizes, rather than too much difficulty in finding out who the future D1 pitchers are.

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It Can Happen occasionally if you are patient but taking strike 2 and even strike 3 regularly usually means you have a weak batter hoping for a walk. A lot of swinging strikes is not good either because it means you are not making consistent contact but occasionally swinging through ( especially breaking balls) is ok and better than weak contact all the time. Swinging g through fastballs down the pipe obviously is not good.

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Along the same lines, I have heard that MLB scouting departments, when evaluating college hitters, look at their performance vs. Friday night starters to gain insight into how they do against better pitchers.

I don’t know if that’s a valid way to look at ALL college hitters, but I have no doubt I will work for SOME schools.

Maybe the sample sizes in high school are too small, but I think you're overestimating the difficulty of identifying the pitchers committed to D1 schools. The info is readily available on PG, and the kids all seem to know, anyway . . . And at least within one's own league, the info seems to be widely known -- just off the top of my head, I can think of 9 current pitchers signed (6 are seniors) or committed (3 are underclassmen) to D1 schools in 2019Son's high school's league. I'm sure there are more -- some additional underclassmen, for example, who are currently uncommitted -- but I think the bigger problem in the context of high school is sample sizes, rather than too much difficulty in finding out who the future D1 pitchers are.

I’m not going to try to argue other than to say it isn’t as easy as you think. If you think the sample sizes are too small to give valid information, why bother worrying whether a pitcher is committed to a DI, a JUCO, or a professional contract?

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Dominik85 posted:

It Can Happen occasionally if you are patient but taking strike 2 and even strike 3 regularly usually means you have a weak batter hoping for a walk. A lot of swinging strikes is not good either because it means you are not making consistent contact but occasionally swinging through ( especially breaking balls) is ok and better than weak contact all the time. Swinging g through fastballs down the pipe obviously is not good.

How many programs not only have the capacity to look at individual pitches in counts by actually study the numbers?

Are you sure you mean a lot of any swinging strike is not good?

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Stats4Gnats posted:

How about if the hitter has a low contact percentage when s/he swings?

This is bad. Means either you have swing issues, timing issues, or pitch selection issues. Low contact percentage guys (unless they are waaaay above avg on HR or pop) are a big risk.

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ironhorse posted:
Stats4Gnats posted:

How about if the hitter has a low contact percentage when s/he swings?

This is bad. Means either you have swing issues, timing issues, or pitch selection issues. Low contact percentage guys (unless they are waaaay above avg on HR or pop) are a big risk.

IOW, you think looking at that statistic may identify a problem.

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