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July 9, 2012

Baseball Prospectus News

Introducing the BP Hitter Profiles

by Dan Brooks and Harry Pavlidis

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.

Hamilton absolutely mashes. Look at his SLG on pitches in the zone! Let’s see how that looks with a platoon split applied. Click “LHP & RHP” and sort to just “RHP,” 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. 
Click here to see Dan's other articles. You can contact Dan by clicking here
Harry Pavlidis is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Harry's other articles. You can contact Harry by clicking here

22 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Sean

Fantastic work on the visualization here, trumping most other tools I've seen. Easy to explore, quick, responsive; plus, we know it's built on great data. Love it. Can't praise it enough.

Jul 07, 2012 18:50 PM
rating: 7
 
BP staff member Dan Brooks
BP staff

Thanks so much! =)

Jul 08, 2012 07:39 AM
 
adamsternum

Yeah this is really great. Thanks for providing this tool!

Jul 08, 2012 09:58 AM
rating: 2
 
R.A.Wagman

Question: is data segregated by PA ending pitches or is it all pitches, or only pitches on which the batter swung, etc. or does it depend on the variables?
Thank you

Jul 07, 2012 19:01 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Dan Brooks
BP staff

It depends on the variables. Some of the sorts are based on swings, some based on PA-ending pitches, etc.

Let me know if you have other questions. =)

Jul 08, 2012 07:39 AM
 
edanddom

Harry/Dan -- this tool is mesmerizing.

The first hitter card I ran was Mike Trout, because I wanted to see how pitchers have been trying (or should try) to get him out.

In doing so, I thought of a few quick suggestions for you:

1) Allow grouping of pitch types. For example, I wanted to compare Trout's rates on fastball to "off-speed" or "breaking stuff" in general, not by specific type of pitch.
2) Allow grouping of the zones displayed on the grid. For example, I wanted to see quick stats for Trout on pitches high/middle/low in the zone. For the additive stats its not a big deal (but would still be nice), but for TAv and other rates stats, not so much. Very smart, by the way, to put the sample sizes beneath the stats and to mark the units of measurement -- very easy to follow.
3) Same theme as above, allow grouping of years and months or provide some defaults for common use cases (e.g., last three years, first half vs. second half)
4) Maybe add a "Compare" button that allows you to either compare one player to another on a single screen or compare the player to himself under different filters, side-by-side on a single screen. It is of course not hard to take screenshots and mash these up offline, but the product manager in me never wants to invite people to leave my app to do something that is likely a common use case.
5) Not a suggestion, just a comment -- cool that you offer the ability to "Direct Link" to the table as sorted. I imagine that will be heavily used.
6) Fun, but useless in most cases (and certainly so for Mike Trout), would be allowing hitter vs. specific pitcher views. And again, allowing "custom aggregates" of specific pitchers could also provide some interesting (or perhaps completely trivial) analytic jump-off points. For example, how does Josh Hamilton hit against my custagg of the 10 hardest throwers?

Thanks again to you both (and BP) for putting this out there.

-Ed

Jul 07, 2012 19:39 PM
rating: 7
 
BP staff member Dan Brooks
BP staff

Thanks so much for the feedback. =)

Custom groupings and aggregates are probably not going to happen for a bit (not as easy a coding solution), but I've started to add groupings - so you can now group by "Hard", "Offspeed", and "Breaking" pitch types. First official update is complete. =)

I'm also going to add First Half vs. Second Half, etc. Let me know what other groupings would be good!

Jul 08, 2012 07:38 AM
 
BP staff member Dan Brooks
BP staff

First half vs. Second half sort is now available in "Months".

Jul 08, 2012 08:14 AM
 
IvanGrushenko

This is very cool!

Jul 08, 2012 09:15 AM
rating: 0
 
whopperman

Can you link these in the regular player cards? The data is fantastic, it's just going to be hard to remember where the search tool is for these.

Jul 08, 2012 11:39 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

Yes, we will add a direct link to these from the player cards. Will reply to myself here when its done.

Jul 08, 2012 21:29 PM
 
BP staff member Dan Brooks
BP staff

Here are some average cards:
RHH: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/pitchfx/hitter_cards/hitter_card.php?player=RHH
LHH: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/pitchfx/hitter_cards/hitter_card.php?player=LHH

Jul 08, 2012 11:56 AM
 
BP staff member Dan Brooks
BP staff

Also just added ISO to the sortable statistics, with the PECOTA version that 2B=3B because the difference is speed not power.

Jul 08, 2012 12:44 PM
 
SaberTJ

This is a great tool Dan. Can you please tell us how we can find this search tool when launching the BP "Home" page other than opening this article and clicking the link you provided?

I am having a tough time finding it.

Can you make it part of the statistics drop down menu links?

Jul 08, 2012 12:50 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

Sure we'll link it up. I'll reply to myself here when its done.

Jul 08, 2012 21:28 PM
 
SaberTJ

Awesome thank you.

Jul 09, 2012 05:28 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

It is now available: Statistics > PitchFX Hitter Profiles. Thanks!

Jul 09, 2012 11:37 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Some neat stuff here. Got some initial thoughts.

#1 Since we're talking about Josh Hamilton, adding in a Day/Night dropdown would be interesting.

#2 A Home/Away dropdown would be useful too.

#3 It would be nice if there was a filter by pitch count. When does a batter tend to swing when the count is 2-0 or where does a pitcher attack a hitter if there is at least one strike on the hitter.

#4 Doing this at the team level might also be interesting. As an example, what zones do opponents attack when pitching against the Yankees.

#5 No OBP?

#6 Something looks a little weird with the color gradients.For example, looking at Joshn Hamilton Swing Rate, I'd think that 76.1% for low and away pitchers should be a different bright red color than 89.6% for right down the middle. Perhaps have an option where users can set their own colors and percentiles?

#7 Foul ball rate might also be interesting if it's available.

Jul 08, 2012 14:14 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Dan Brooks
BP staff

Foul rate is now added. Some of your other requested sorts may take a little more time. =)

Thanks for the feedback!

Jul 09, 2012 05:44 AM
 
JOARGE9481

These profiles are awesome. I am watching Yanks-Sox and pulling up each hitter as they come to the plate. Thanks

Jul 08, 2012 17:52 PM
rating: 3
 
fflakes41

Great tool - any way we can pull up multiple charts on one page, so we can compare statistics across different variables? Maybe even an overlay of some sort, but having the ability to contrast the different charts at the same time would be fun.

Jul 08, 2012 19:20 PM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

Very nice tool, by the way. Thank you for enabling it.

Jul 08, 2012 21:11 PM
rating: 2
 
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