The Wall of Ground Ball Prevention

Steve A. posted:

So, long term, does this mean IF defensive value goes down & OF Defensive value goes up?? More "defensive runs saved" in the OF as the % of balls in the air goes up, right??

Well, that poses a very interesting question since the corner OF spots are typically where those players who have enough pop to benefit the most from lifting the ball offensively but are less likely to be able to cover ground defensively.

I spent my whole coaching life, both of teams and my own kids, parroting "ground balls and line drives are hits, fly balls are outs" which I learned from the best baseball guy I knew from my formative baseball years (mid 70s).  I'm not disagreeing that stats are suggesting a new way, but it's sure hard for me to overcome my bias, especially when our leadoff guy who runs a 6.6 60 has been 0-10 so far this year because he's lofted every damn pitch he's hit.  Sure it's pretty to watch his swing and the nice long arc of the ball being beautifully tracked by their 6.6 guy, but I've seen this kid hit a hard ground ball to short and beat it out.

I'm not going to argue though if my kid is on the field because he can loft a ball.

smokeminside posted:

I spent my whole coaching life, both of teams and my own kids, parroting "ground balls and line drives are hits, fly balls are outs" which I learned from the best baseball guy I knew from my formative baseball years (mid 70s).  I'm not disagreeing that stats are suggesting a new way, but it's sure hard for me to overcome my bias, especially when our leadoff guy who runs a 6.6 60 has been 0-10 so far this year because he's lofted every damn pitch he's hit.  Sure it's pretty to watch his swing and the nice long arc of the ball being beautifully tracked by their 6.6 guy, but I've seen this kid hit a hard ground ball to short and beat it out.

I'm not going to argue though if my kid is on the field because he can loft a ball.

Yeah, it’s not a universally supported theory.  To me it only makes sense for guys that can hit the ball out of the park. Friend of mine that is minor league hitting instructor doesn’t buy in. 

Stats4Gnats posted:

No doubt that “drill” would help most college and pro players, but what percentage of HS players would benefit?

I would bet that if exit velo is much below 90mph (i.e., typical HS player), there will be a lot of fly ball outs.  I think this is why a lot of HS coaches prefer sharply hit ground balls to a well hit fly ball.

adbono posted:
smokeminside posted:

I spent my whole coaching life, both of teams and my own kids, parroting "ground balls and line drives are hits, fly balls are outs" which I learned from the best baseball guy I knew from my formative baseball years (mid 70s).  I'm not disagreeing that stats are suggesting a new way, but it's sure hard for me to overcome my bias, especially when our leadoff guy who runs a 6.6 60 has been 0-10 so far this year because he's lofted every damn pitch he's hit.  Sure it's pretty to watch his swing and the nice long arc of the ball being beautifully tracked by their 6.6 guy, but I've seen this kid hit a hard ground ball to short and beat it out.

I'm not going to argue though if my kid is on the field because he can loft a ball.

Yeah, it’s not a universally supported theory.  To me it only makes sense for guys that can hit the ball out of the park. Friend of mine that is minor league hitting instructor doesn’t buy in. 

Best I can tell, the data that supports an emphasis on "Barrels" all come from MLB games. The conclusions may not be valid for college, or even different levels of play within college baseball, much less high school. It will be interesting to see how these trends change as college parks become outfitted with Statcast or similar equipment.

Smitty28 posted:
Stats4Gnats posted:

No doubt that “drill” would help most college and pro players, but what percentage of HS players would benefit?

I would bet that if exit velo is much below 90mph (i.e., typical HS player), there will be a lot of fly ball outs.  I think this is why a lot of HS coaches prefer sharply hit ground balls to a well hit fly ball.

Yes, this, among other things.  There have been some in-depth discussions here regarding launch angle (in general and as it pertains to different levels).  For most HS players, trying to lift will result in more fly ball outs AND a lower average in general AND a higher K rate AND less hard hit balls.  I don't promote ground balls.  I promote an aggressive swing that is on plane with the pitch and reacts efficiently to pitch location.  This will provide the best results for the majority of HS players.  Hit hard line drives and keep the barrel on plane with the pitch longer.  Slight misses will result in hard ground balls and possibly over the top/gap doubles.  Slight misses when trying to lift will usually result in topped grounders and lazy high fly outs.

I don't argue the numbers at all with regards to major league players.  It just doesn't translate to most HS players under normal circumstances.

I like the visual of the screens in the OP article.  We use visual speak but the sights are adjusted and take a little more effort on the hitter's part.  For example, depending on the situation and/or the hitter, we may talk about line drives through the MIF's heads or in the case of hit & run, hard one hopper thru the 3-4 hole, skipping at the cut of the infield grass. Or, when trying to get a hitter to swing more aggressively without trying to lift, we may talk about driving a hard one-hopper thru the OF fence.

Pitch height plays a role here as well.  If a HS hitter has a line drive intent, a pitch up will most often create a bit of lift in the swing plane in a good way.  If that hitter has a lift intent, then that pitch up is going to result in a plane that is upward to the extent that is is non-productive (more likely to be a swing-and-miss, skied or rolled over).

Cabbage, I would go a step farther. I don't even argue the number for maybe the top 50 or so % of college hitters and the top 20% or so of HS.

It is when the twitter world becomes 100% absolute truth and anyone who doesn't agree fully and forever with trackman numbers from the MBL for all players at all ages no matter what the circumstances are...or you are a dimwit who knows nothing and hurting the kids he is working with I separate! BTW how is that for a run on sentence!

Honestly if my son hits a ground ball it is almost never a good swing, he doesn't run well, he is lefty so he isn't going to many of the bobbles ball not fielded clean error bases...he is a power kid who hits it in the gaps and over peoples heads. That is what he does, he also has 96 exit velo and it works for him. his roommate runs about 6.90 or maybe a tick better BUT hasn't ever hit a ball over the fence. Not in LL, HS, travel....he is not a strong hitter. Bunts well, has a great hit and run swing, can inside out a ball with the best of them, he has a role - launch angle isn't it!

Those 2 couldn't be more night and day, why teach them the same? They both can help the team in their own way. If my son wasn't damn so slow and a bit to short he would playing D1, if his roommate could hit like my son does he would be playing it as well...IMO a high quality coach will work with what the player has to offer.

old_school posted:

Cabbage, I would go a step farther. I don't even argue the number for maybe the top 50 or so % of college hitters and the top 20% or so of HS.

It is when the twitter world becomes 100% absolute truth and anyone who doesn't agree fully and forever with trackman numbers from the MBL for all players at all ages no matter what the circumstances are...or you are a dimwit who knows nothing and hurting the kids he is working with I separate! BTW how is that for a run on sentence!

Honestly if my son hits a ground ball it is almost never a good swing, he doesn't run well, he is lefty so he isn't going to many of the bobbles ball not fielded clean error bases...he is a power kid who hits it in the gaps and over peoples heads. That is what he does, he also has 96 exit velo and it works for him. his roommate runs about 6.90 or maybe a tick better BUT hasn't ever hit a ball over the fence. Not in LL, HS, travel....he is not a strong hitter. Bunts well, has a great hit and run swing, can inside out a ball with the best of them, he has a role - launch angle isn't it!

Those 2 couldn't be more night and day, why teach them the same? They both can help the team in their own way. If my son wasn't damn so slow and a bit to short he would playing D1, if his roommate could hit like my son does he would be playing it as well...IMO a high quality coach will work with what the player has to offer.

Completely agree on both points.  There are those here (and "out there") that swear by the notion of copying MLB players.  I get the concept but this topic is the perfect example of where that doesn't always work.  

There was a popular interview/video of Josh Donaldson talking thru his hitting philosophy a year or two ago.  A lot of HS kids gravitated to it.  Heavy on pull, lift, big kick, etc. (as best as i can recall).  On top of that, he was pretty blatant about telling kids to ignore "traditional instruction".  Works well for an elite, strong MLB player with tremendous timing who is paid to go deep but really works against, in so many ways, a HS player trying to have success at his current level.  Causes balance issues, timing issues, contact issues, hinders ability to drive pitches away, etc.  That's always fun trying to explain to a group of HS players that the hottest player on the planet (at the time) is telling them to hit in a way that will hurt their chances of success.  

And, yes, there are rare HS players like your son with 96 mph exit velo who should be swinging with some intent to lift.  And, yes, each player is different and his particular skill set and physical attributes should be factored in to the type of hitter he strives to be.

Something to think about....When every HS pitching coach comes out for a mound visit and says "ok let's roll a groundball and get outta here." If pitching coaches and pitchers generally speaking want groundballs, why would a hitter also want a groundball? 

Agree that faster players with less power should probably favor a swing that keeps the ball down. Conversely, slower players with power should want to hit line drives in the gaps with potential for more. I don't think ANYONE is suggesting to loft the ball high in the air without velocity. But a line drive base hit is at about a 15-20 degree launch angle depending on velocity. I think that is the implicit challenge intended by using the screens across the infield. 

Does the push for higher launch angle at the MLB level create a greater market / opportunity for sinkerball pitchers vs high velo guys??

Will pitchers with 88-91 but exceptional movement make a comeback? Seems like if you are not 95+ as a RHP now you have almost no shot.

It figures that if MLB swings are all adding loft & my guy has a FB that sinks this may be a formula for success even if it is below average velo..

Steve A. posted:

Does the push for higher launch angle at the MLB level create a greater market / opportunity for sinkerball pitchers vs high velo guys??

Will pitchers with 88-91 but exceptional movement make a comeback? Seems like if you are not 95+ as a RHP now you have almost no shot.

It figures that if MLB swings are all adding loft & my guy has a FB that sinks this may be a formula for success even if it is below average velo..

Pitches up in the zone are more effective against an uphill swing.  Look at what AL pitchers did to Joey Gallo during his rookie season. Pitches with sink are always good but they can run into a swing that starts low and ends high.

coach2709 posted:

How long until we have 4 outfielders and 3 infielders?  Who will be the first team to try and incorporate that?

Great call. You can especially see it with a big power guy who does not run well. Take a David Ortiz for example. You could make the case for this alignment. 2B goes to OF (RF Line), 3B to short CF, SS to short RF gap, 1B out in grass down RF Line. Pitcher covers 1B on anything on the ground.

You basically would have Zero IF on the dirt, other than the pitcher. You wanna loft it, it had better be in the seats otherwise you are out.

adbono posted:
Steve A. posted:

Does the push for higher launch angle at the MLB level create a greater market / opportunity for sinkerball pitchers vs high velo guys??

Will pitchers with 88-91 but exceptional movement make a comeback? Seems like if you are not 95+ as a RHP now you have almost no shot.

It figures that if MLB swings are all adding loft & my guy has a FB that sinks this may be a formula for success even if it is below average velo..

Pitches up in the zone are more effective against an uphill swing.  Look at what AL pitchers did to Joey Gallo during his rookie season. Pitches with sink are always good but they can run into a swing that starts low and ends high.

Just about to make that point. The elevated fastball is back and I like it!

Hey I'm not disputing any of that but I can tell you that a sinker, down, is going on the ground more than a fastball, up. There is just no question. It is  a matter of physics.

That is why movement is & always has been so important on the heater.

Individual hitters have different "holes." Trout just crushes the bottom of the zone. Gallo has holes up, so yes.

Think of guys like Maddux, Halladay, Kevin Brown, Bill Swift. You are just going to have a hard time elevating it against this kind of stuff.

Steve A. posted:

Does the push for higher launch angle at the MLB level create a greater market / opportunity for sinkerball pitchers vs high velo guys??

Will pitchers with 88-91 but exceptional movement make a comeback? Seems like if you are not 95+ as a RHP now you have almost no shot.

It figures that if MLB swings are all adding loft & my guy has a FB that sinks this may be a formula for success even if it is below average velo..

Both pitchers can have success.  I think the question is who can have more success when they are not at 100%?  Or in other words, who will have more success with mistake pitches?  

Lincecum is a great example.  I guy who had plus velocity that was dominate who could miss with any pitch and still have success.  Than a guy who had plus movement with below average velocity that hitters could just wait for a mistake and crush it.  

 

Is this really a new concept?  Or just new technology that allows data to be collected and analyzed.  I have never had or heard a coach preach ground balls as the goal or heard a coach preach fly balls.  It's always been hard line drives up the mental.  Mishit balls could be hard grounders or with enough power HR's.   

real green posted:

Is this really a new concept?  Or just new technology that allows data to be collected and analyzed.  I have never had or heard a coach preach ground balls as the goal or heard a coach preach fly balls.  It's always been hard line drives up the mental.  Mishit balls could be hard grounders or with enough power HR's.   

I think it is the former rather than latter. The data has been used to determine that at the Big League Level, Exit Velocity alone (hard line drives), can translate into higher Slugging % if the "Launch Angle" is elevated in a certain range. So instead of missile singles, you have gap extra base hits & added HR which = Increased Runs which = More Wins. 

Steve A. posted:
real green posted:

Is this really a new concept?  Or just new technology that allows data to be collected and analyzed.  I have never had or heard a coach preach ground balls as the goal or heard a coach preach fly balls.  It's always been hard line drives up the mental.  Mishit balls could be hard grounders or with enough power HR's.   

I think it is the former rather than latter. The data has been used to determine that at the Big League Level, Exit Velocity alone (hard line drives), can translate into higher Slugging % if the "Launch Angle" is elevated in a certain range. So instead of missile singles, you have gap extra base hits & added HR which = Increased Runs which = More Wins. 

I'm going to respectfully disagree just a little. First, I think the data holds up regardless of level. If anything, lower levels should show even higher hit probabilities for the same EV and launch angle since the fielders aren't as good. Of course drawing the same conclusions at a lower level, such as teaching HS kids to swing harder and swing with a steeper angle would be a mistake because those kids are never going to hit a ball 110 mph in high school. Second, I think the new thing here is the significant impact of EV on hit probability. I'm sure there are some wise old timers who figured that out years ago, but I think the analysis of this data has motivated hitters to get stronger and swing harder.
 
statcast_gam7a
 
MidAtlanticDad posted:
Steve A. posted:
real green posted:

Is this really a new concept?  Or just new technology that allows data to be collected and analyzed.  I have never had or heard a coach preach ground balls as the goal or heard a coach preach fly balls.  It's always been hard line drives up the mental.  Mishit balls could be hard grounders or with enough power HR's.   

I think it is the former rather than latter. The data has been used to determine that at the Big League Level, Exit Velocity alone (hard line drives), can translate into higher Slugging % if the "Launch Angle" is elevated in a certain range. So instead of missile singles, you have gap extra base hits & added HR which = Increased Runs which = More Wins. 

I'm going to respectfully disagree just a little. First, I think the data holds up regardless of level. If anything, lower levels should show even higher hit probabilities for the same EV and launch angle since the fielders aren't as good. Of course drawing the same conclusions at a lower level, such as teaching HS kids to swing harder and swing with a steeper angle would be a mistake because those kids are never going to hit a ball 110 mph in high school. Second, I think the new thing here is the significant impact of EV on hit probability. I'm sure there are some wise old timers who figured that out years ago, but I think the analysis of this data has motivated hitters to get stronger and swing harder.
 
statcast_gam7a
 

12-13 degrees seems to be the sweet spot based on this graph.  I would assume the pinch at the 90mph is the average exit velocity of MLB  which is how the defense is set up to defend. 

HS you might see that pinch at 75 or 80mph exit.   

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real green posted:


12-13 degrees seems to be the sweet spot based on this graph.  I would assume the pinch at the 90mph is the average exit velocity of MLB  which is how the defense is set up to defend. 

HS you might see that pinch at 75 or 80mph exit.   

I look at that spot as hard hit LDs on the top, to softly hit LDs and flares at the bottom. The top part includes balls going over guys' heads and balls getting down quickly in the gaps, and the bottom part is balls dropping in front of the OFers. The pinch point is still .500, but I'm guessing that half of those balls are hit at the OFs.

A few more notes on this topic as it relates to HS... in addition to the previously mentioned typical lack of power and timing to be able to make a "lift" approach successful with any degree of consistency...

All of this is assuming something close to the norm or average...

HS infielders have far less range, fielding prowess, arm strength and accuracy than mid-level and above college and pro IF's.

The one thing HS players do best defensively is track and catch fly balls and there is no throw involved in completing the putout.

HS hitters are not nearly as consistent at finding the sweetspot of the barrel.

The effect of a less-than-perfect playing surface comes into play much more so on ground balls than fly balls.  

 

Again, I am not promoting a ground ball teach or approach.  But I am adding supporting factors that back up more of a neutral line drive/path on plane of pitch approach at this level.    

 

 

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