July 9, 2012
Baseball Prospectus News
Introducing the BP Hitter Profiles
While reading message boards, sabermetric websites, or newspapers, you’ll often come across contentions like, “So and so is a good low-ball hitter.” While listening to the radio, you’ll be told that a player swings and misses a lot at pitches down and in. Or you might wonder: What’s the cause of a hitter’s dramatic change in performance from season to season? Is it something different about his approach? Is he less effective at getting to pitches in certain parts of the strike zone?
We’re here to help you answer those questions. Today, we’re rolling out a “beta” version of our PITCHf/x-driven Hitter Profiles. Essentially, they create sortable hot/cold zones for every hitter in “the PITCHf/x era” (2007-12). You can sort by AVG, SLG, the BP all-in-one offensive statistic TAv, Swings, Whiffs, and various types of balls in play. You can investigate where and how pitchers have attacked a hitter to see if that’s changed. You can sort by month or by year. You can do platoon splits. And you can switch between any of the pitches identified in the custom-classified Pitch Info LLC database that is also featured in our Pitcher Cards.
We are still building and evolving this tool, so don’t be afraid if something changes. If you find something you like, let us know. If you find something you hate or want changed, let us know about that, too. Building gadgets that help you both answer the old questions and ask the new questions about baseball is our goal. Your feedback will help us achieve it.
I’m going to step through some of the features of this new tool so that you won’t miss out on any of the available options.
You start by inputting a player into the search field and clicking his name. (The search field can be found here, or by clicking on the "PITCHf/x Hitter Profiles" dropdown on the "Statistics" tab on the menu bar at the top of the page.) As an illustration, let’s find someone who really mashes—Josh Hamilton, for example. If you search for Hamilton, you’ll be taken to this page and be greeted by this image:
This start-image shows a frequency map of where pitchers have tried to attack Hamilton. The zone is from the Catcher’s Point of View, and Hamilton is a left-handed hitters, so it’s clear that pitchers have tried to work him down and away. Let’s go ahead and click over to another sort, SLG. To do that, change the “Frequency” tab to say “SLG”, or click here.
Even more impressive!
We know that one of the things you’ll want to do is share these tables, so we’ve built in a handy link at the bottom of each table that you can click (or copy) and share with your friends.
There are plenty of fun sorts and splits to play with. For example, check out Vladimir Guerrero’s swing rate. Look at Adrian Gonzalez year-to-year, first in 2011, and then in 2012. Or see how Brandon Inge hits well against balls pitches low in the zone but loves to swing at the high stuff.
Let us know what other kinds of fun images and sorts you find. Send us feedback, or leave it in the comments below. Enjoy!
Dan Brooks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @brooksbaseball