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May 23, 2009

Prospectus Idol Entry

Grounding Home-run Hitters

by Brittany Ghiroli

When David Ortiz connected for his first home run of the season, in the middle of a six-run fifth inning that powered the Red Sox to Wednesday's win over Toronto, he told reporters in Boston that for the time in nearly 40 games he looked "like a real hitter." But if Big Papi is to keep poppin' homers for the Sox, Ortiz may needs more than confidence: the solution could be to hit more ground balls.

Because batting average is an unstable statistic from year-to-year, the rate at which a player hits ground balls-to-fly balls (G/F) has become an important barometer for teams evaluating new prospects and current talent. Earlier this season, Rays' manager Joe Maddon went public in his defense of having a separate fly ball batting average to keep specific tabs on each player's frequency of airborne outs. Maddon used Jason Bartlett as an example, citing the shortstop's lack of pure power as a primary reason to stress lower-trajectory balls.

But is there a specific G/F range that maximizes a player's offensive potential? And how accurate is G/F in assessing home run hitters? Let's take a closer took, starting with Ortiz.

The slugger snapped his homerless drought at 149 at-bats, and looking at Ortiz's G/F of 0.37, it's little wonder why he has struggled mightily in the season's first 40 games. Ortiz's G/F was 0.58 last season and over the last four years he has averaged a 0.55, meaning the number of balls he's putting in the air this season has skyrocketed.

So, why no homers? That's easy. Most balls in the air that stay in the park are a product of swinging late or hitting the ball from underneath the zone. Naturally, Ortiz's lower G/F should signify less line drives, and that number (down from 19 percent of balls batted in 2008 to 16 percent) supports the theory.

When Ortiz was averaging the most homers in 2006, one per every 10.3 at-bats, his G/F was 0.58 and his ground-out-to-fly-out ratio (GO/AO) was 0.90, which means he was splitting his outs fairly evenly. Not surprisingly, his GO/AO this year is a career-low 0.56.

Let's look at what improved ground ball rates translate into in regards to Ortiz's power.

              2006     2007     2008     2009
G/F           0.58     0.61     0.58     0.37
GO/AO          .90      .93      .84      .56
HR %          7.9      5.3      4.7      0.6
% FB/HR      20.9     13.6     12.6      1.5
RC/G          9.8     10.8      6.6      3.6

Using G/F and GO/AO rates from his last three seasons and comparing them to his start in 2009, you can see that Ortiz is a hitter that thrives when he is producing a relatively even amount of ground ball and fly ball outs. Although his fly ball to home run conversion rate drops from 2006 to 2007, where he had the highest G/F and most stable GO/AO, Ortiz's run contribution increased, which could be a result of his higher batting average on balls in play (BAbip) up from .270 to .355. Using the Bill James formula which estimates runs created per approximately 27 outs, Ortiz's contributions averaged 10.8 runs per game. That's more than double his RC % so far this year.

Because Ortiz is 33 and has been struggling with wrist injuries and the usual decline that comes with old age, let's now look at Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. The 28-year-old signed a $180 million dollar contract this offseason and is (arguably) in his offensive prime.

            2006      2007     2008     2009
G/F         0.66      0.64     0.74     0.50
GO/AO        .93       .97      .99      .73
HR %        4.5       5.2      4.8      6.4
% FB/HR    12.2      14.2     13.3     17.5
RC/G        6.8       8.8      8.5      7.0

Teixeira is an interesting case because his recent resurgence (six homers in the club's last 12 games) has propped up an incredibly dismal start to 2009, and elevated his home run percentages above the norm. But looking at his three previous seasons we can determine that like Ortiz, Teixeira is at his best when his GO/AO is closer to 1 and his G/F gives a slight edge to the fly ball. In the heat of his slump on May 15, Teixeira's fly ball percentage had soared nearly 20 points, from 36.5 in 2008 to a staggering 55.6, which plummeted his line drive percentage from 20.8 to 12.2. Hitting coach Kevin Long told reporters that the emphasis has been on turning those numbers back around, and eliminating any undercut swings that result in fly balls. Not surprisingly, Teixeira's hot week (15-for-45 with 10 extra base-hits) has upped his G/F and helped stabilize his GO/AO to within .23 of his average.

Bartlett, a significantly smaller bat, presents an interesting distinction from Ortiz and Teixeira.

          2006     2007     2008     2009
G/F       0.81     0.83     0.95     0.58
GO/AO     1.12      .93     1.10      .76
HR %      0.5      0.9      0.2      3.7
% FB/HR   1.3      2.5      0.6      9.4
RC/G      5.2      4.6      4.2     10.6

Bartlett's batting average in the air hovers around .100 and last season's high .95 G/F and 1.10 GO/AO resulted in career-low power numbers. It makes sense that if a batter hits more of his balls on the ground, as opposed to in the air; he's not going to be a big home run threat. But be it Bartlett's emphasis on line-drive hitting or Maddon's zany vigilance of fly ball stats, the shortstop has stabilized his G/F to 0.63 and his five homers are part of a three-way tie for tops amongst American League shortstops.

Also, on that list is Derek Jeter, who at a 1.58 G/F is one of baseball's most extreme ground ball hitters. But even Jeter benefits from a more stable G/F, with his top two home run percentages coming in years where his G/F was in the 0.94 range.

So what does all this mean, exactly?

While there is no hard and fast G/F that guarantees a player's home run potential, the statistic is an essential component for tracking offensive production and monitoring the dynamics of a player's swing. On average, players hit ground balls on 42.5 percent of batted balls. Although players with exceptionally low ground ball percentages, such as Carlos Pena (28.9), can still be successful home-run hitters their power is increased by stabilizing their G/F, typically within the 0.55- 0.65 range.

During Pena's comeback year in 2007, he had a 0.58 G/F and 47 home runs, which accounted for 7.5 percent of his at-bats. Raising his fly ball rate the following season, Pena's 0.45 G/F decreased his home run numbers to 5.1 percent and lowered the production rate of his fly balls turned homers from 22.9 percent to 15.8 percent.

Conversely, a too-high G/F can handcuff power production and result in slap-style hitting similar to Seattle's ground ball specialist Ichiro Suzuki. Only three hitters in the majors - Hunter Pence, Casey Kotchman and Russell Martin - hit more than ten homers, while hitting more ground balls than fly balls. Of those three, only Pence had real power numbers, eclipsing the 20-home run mark with 25 knocks.

While batting average and RBI are influenced by uncontrolled factors such as the opposing team's pitching and defense, G/F only takes into account the type of ball hit, to give a stable barometer of offensive progress. When used in conjunction with a player's specific tendencies at the plate and power potential, G/F can be used to project offensive efficiency, alter mechanics, and protect against the statistically weakest batted ball, the infield fly.

Related Content:  Home Run

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

BP Comment Quick Links

Richard Bergstrom

I think the writing style was fine. Sometimes statistics are kind of left hanging there like the discussion on Runs Created. The writing itself, though, was structured quite well and there wasn't much left to confusion.

There seemed to be a few assumptions sprinkled throughout that don't make sense... "While batting average and RBI are influenced by uncontrolled factors such as the opposing team’s pitching and defense" That one was a big red flag for me... How are RBI influenced by the opposing team's pitching and defense? "the statistic is an essential component for tracking offensive production" is a bit more of an assumption than the latter part of that sentence "monitoring the dynamics of a player’s swing." G/F tells relatively little about offensive production, just the form that the offensive production takes...

I kept waiting for the line "These numbers suggest Ortiz isn't squaring up on the ball and hitting it on the sweet spot like he used to." Also, I find it a bit problematic that Ortiz needs to bring his G/F to the 0.55-0.65 range... the difference between 0.45 and 0.55, over the course of a season, is around 15 line drives turning into groundballs... to paraphrase Bull Durham, the difference between a .260 and .300 hitter is 20 hits a year finding a hole. It also seems a bit counterintuitive for a slow runner like Ortiz to try to hit groundballs... the purpose, I think, is not that he should be hitting more groundballs but that he should be making more solid contact. Perhaps a comment about trying to hit the opposite way more might force pitchers to pitch him differently or stop teams from employing the shift as much.

May 24, 2009 15:04 PM
rating: 3
 
Bob

I'm not convinced by your analysis. Your data, which are rather limited, don't actually show a direct correlation between G/F and HR%. Maybe I'm missing something here, but for each of your examples, the data show an opposite relation between G/F and HR%, but still not a very strong relation, especially considering the very small sample size.

Your writing quality is top-notch and given that, plus your entry piece, I'd really like to see what else you can do here.

Thumbs up.

May 24, 2009 16:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Greg Ioannou

I'm supposed to vote for someone who thinks 33 is "old age"?

May 24, 2009 19:24 PM
rating: -2
 
ghirolib

Old-age baseball wise Greg. 33 isn't the peak of your offensive career, particularly if you are an AL DH.

May 25, 2009 13:50 PM
rating: 2
 
Justin

Randomly picking three players doesn't make a very good statistical argument. Not only that, but comparing less than two months worth of 2009 with full season data is a bit sketchy.

May 24, 2009 20:35 PM
rating: 2
 
Evan
(47)

Would a small-sample-size caveat be out of place in an article for beginners?

May 25, 2009 11:02 AM
rating: 0
 
Sky Kalkman

I agree with Christina that this was an incomplete explanation. There are many batted ball types and it would have been nice to see which ones are more stable given about 150 PAs for Ortiz so far this year. The differences between hitters and pitchers controlling various statistics to differing degrees would have been nice to discuss, too, especially the idea that pitchers seem to control the percentage of outfield fly balls they yield, but hitters control more which ones leave the park.

May 24, 2009 20:43 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

The word “first” is missing in first sentence. Would BP pick up on such things and correct them? I assume so.

A bigger problem is the unconvincing math. To be a BP writer you have to have a better grasp on the relative value of statistics than this. However, Brittany scores points for getting us to look at G/F in terms of how squarely a player is hitting the ball – even if that point wasn’t intended.

May 24, 2009 23:32 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Does she directly say it though? I thought she at best implied it, mostly because of the hitting coach comment that was tossed in.

May 25, 2009 02:02 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

We publish everyone's work without edits, only adding HTML tagging and formatting the tables and charts so that they're properly represented.

May 25, 2009 08:44 AM
 
John Carter

Christina,
Would I assume correctly that once an Idol is declared his or her remaining articles would get the same look over for grammatical and factual errors that each of your staff writers receive? . . . if not style re-workings? Or by "everyone" do you mean all of the BP contributors - not just the contestants?

May 25, 2009 11:17 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

The winner? Sure, once they win the editors will help them out as they do all of our other authors.

We don't want to autotune their submissions during the contest, but we'll definitely do whatever we can to perfect their content outside of BP Idol.

May 26, 2009 10:46 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Your best strength is your writing style. Yet, you lost a lot of what made your tone strong when you dealt with stats. Try not to sacrifice your tone for statistics, but still, make sure to drill down into the stats to analyze them and then present them properly to the reader. The reader should be left with the exact same conclusion that you have once you walk them from the data... we shouldn't be drawing completely different conclusions from the data you presented us. You will know your process is effective if instead of asking for clarification, we're suggesting avenues for further research or discussing the implications of what you presented.

May 25, 2009 02:34 AM
rating: 0
 
JD Sussman

I have to agree with Will - the writing style is good, but the content isn't. Those stats aren't good at all. Give me some more Cathwright!

May 25, 2009 04:20 AM
rating: 1
 
Randy Brown
(189)

Three things I enjoyed about this article:
1) It was written by a Spartan. Woo-woo!
2) It made a reference to Derek Jeter. No introductory sabermetric article is complete without mentioning how it relates to Derek Jeter, just to stir the pot.
3) (and most important) It made me think. It provided a pretty convincing argument for a counter-intuitive concept; namely, that if a player wants to hit more home runs, he may be better served by trying to focus on hitting the ball in the air less often, not more.

May 25, 2009 08:11 AM
rating: 0
 
ghirolib

Got to show love for Michigan State :-)

May 25, 2009 13:51 PM
rating: 0
 
BrettG

I wish I hadn't learned that you are a Spartan. I try to be unbiased in my voting on such things. Now I'm going to have to hold you to a higher standard.

May 28, 2009 11:14 AM
rating: 0
 
DLegler21

Hitters are at their best when they hit more line drives. A lower than normal G/F ratio is a symptom of not hitting enough line drives - when a hitter is locked in and hitting a high number of line drives, when he just misses the sweet spot, a good portion of those misses will be where he hits more towards the top of the ball, resulting in more grounders. This would demonstrate that you understand what causes what. Say something along these line and you get my vote. You didn't so you don't.

May 25, 2009 08:53 AM
rating: 0
 
newsense

Too ambitious. Brittany's strengths are more like Perrotto's than Normandin's. It's clear she gets in over her head. Comparing Ortiz, Teixeira and Bartlett using G/F, etc. was a great idea but it failed in execution; the interpretations of the numbers are unconvincing, bordering on hand-waving.

May 25, 2009 09:06 AM
rating: 0
 
daiheide

My problem is not with the mathematics but with the reasoning. I think Brittany mistakes correlation for causation when she she says that David Ortiz should hit more grounders if he wants to hit more homers. His low GB/FB% and his low HR% are both symptoms of an underlying problem, aren't they? If so, it's a mistake to suppose that GB/FB% has any causal influence on his HR% - as much of a mistake as supposing that ice cream sales cause the murder rate to go up.

The right thing to say - and I think Richard made this point above - is that both GB/FB% and HR% are down and the cause is...well, that would have been a nice topic for the article.

Brittany writes very well. But

May 25, 2009 09:13 AM
rating: 4
 
Richard Bergstrom

Bob made that point about GB/FB and HR being down, not me, just to give credit where credit is due.

May 25, 2009 13:49 PM
rating: 0
 
daiheide

(whoops - hit submit accidentally)

But I'm not sure she has the analytical chops to write for BP.

May 25, 2009 09:16 AM
rating: 1
 
Patrick Ferrington

On the other hand - just to make a point - I'm fairly certain even Will Carroll himself will admit he doesn't have the statistical 'chops' to write for BP. On the other hand he's an incredibly popular writer for the site and has wider fame that BP itself. He's also not the only one.

I think a lot of complaints could have been saved by including average of all players in table - perhaps a line in each rather than just a sentence or 2 in the article. Always keep in mind do not try to prove something with a handfull of players or ABs. Those help make the subject matter personal- something you are quite good at - but leaves the article in the 'tea leaf reading' category without the statistical backing of large amounts of data.

May 25, 2009 09:58 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

I do not have statistical chops. None. Can't balance my own checkbook. I'm smart enough to grasp the concepts most times, but not always. I'll admit that Brian Cartwright's article was still way over my head.

May 25, 2009 13:25 PM
 
ghirolib

Good suggestion here. Thanks Pat.

May 25, 2009 13:51 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Just because Will doesn't use statistics as much doesn't mean he's not an analyst... and he's the closest (and best) thing to having an injury analyst on your fantasy team. :)

May 25, 2009 14:48 PM
rating: 1
 
daiheide

Statistical chops are one thing. Pretty basic causal reasoning skills are another. There should be plenty of room at BP for writers who aren't on the cutting edge of sabermetric innovation. But distinguishing between correlation and causation doesn't require any sophisticated statistical ability. It's a fundamental, pre-statistical distinction that any good baseball writer should be aware of all of the time. It is not apparent to me from the article that BG is.

May 26, 2009 04:55 AM
rating: 1
 
Patrick Ferrington

Another though - tag teaming? Some of these guys are deep statistically only and others are great writers - are you going to pair up mentors to their strengths or weaknesses?

Since BP is collaborative, maybe one week you should let them pick a regular BP author who can cover for their weakness on a collaborative piece?

May 25, 2009 09:59 AM
rating: 0
 
JKGaucho

The writing quality was very strong. The analysis had some holes, but I am giving a thumb up because I see tremendous upside. No matter how much someone knows stats, if they can't write and communicate them clearly, it doesn't matter. I guess the opposite is true but Brittany has demonstrated a solid understanding.

May 25, 2009 10:10 AM
rating: 1
 
harpago17

One thing that bothered me was making the connection between "fewer HR" to "fewer ground-ball outs" while neglecting to consider the possibility that the GO/AO ratio could have changed due to balls that used to be home runs becoming fly-ball outs. It's not to say that there isn't come correlation here, but ignoring what to me appears to be the most obvious explanation makes this appear to be "playing with numbers" instead of sound statistical analysis.

May 25, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 1
 
Ira

I will probably vote for you, even though I was predisposed to vote for you in the first place. 1) I'm sexist and feel that there aren't enough competent female sportswriters. 2) your writing style is solid, readable, and enjoyable. The fact that I don't necessarily agree with you doesn't mean that you're analysis is wrong.


Speaking of that analysis, you must be careful not to confuse cause and effect. The cause here is most blatantly Ortiz' wrist injury. It causes him to be just a hair slower with his bat speed making it easier to push a fastball past him. Also, when he can make fair contact with fastballs, since he's slower than he expects, he gets under them, producing more popups and fly balls and fewer home runs and line drives. This also causes pitchers to throw fewer breaking balls to him, which are also resulting in fewer groundouts. (since groundouts often happen because the batter is swinging ahead of the pitch.) Fewer breaking balls also means fewer hung breaking balls, which also means fewer line drives and homers.

Basically, it means that as Ortiz' wrist continues to heal, his swing will go back to where it was and by the end of the year, he will be hitting long balls again.

May 25, 2009 10:27 AM
rating: -1
 
gersh22

Ortiz's wrist is fine

May 25, 2009 11:35 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I agree that there needs to be more competent female sportswriters and I think Brittany has great writing skills and is a more than competent writer. But is this a competition to pick the best writer or the best analyst? Does a techno club manager hire a DJ that spins only Baroque music?

Then there's the flipside... Brittany's voice worked great on MLB.com and I can see her writing great for CNNSI or ESPN, but can analysts like Brian be given a voice on those sites? Would CNNSI or ESPN give a new, unestablished writer a chance on subject matter like game theory or pitch F/X from a batter's perspective?

My inclination is BP is more of a vehicle for original analysis and innovation and I can live with lesser writing skills if I am learning things or thinking about things in new ways. Brittany's article had a neat little idea about Ortiz's struggles and an interesting idea that it attempted to execute, but I had to end up putting the pieces together myself when reading it. That kind of thing just won't play as the Idol field narrows down...

May 25, 2009 14:34 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Beer and tacos. There's room here for both ... but only one winner.

May 25, 2009 17:03 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

So in effect, there isn't room for both since there's only one winner... which would make it more of a Beer and Wine not a Beer and Tacos comparison ;)

May 26, 2009 10:43 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Christina Kahrl
BP staff
(11)

What about those of us who have to go for tacos and wine and can't drink beer, though? I guess this is begging for a Venn diagram...

May 26, 2009 13:10 PM
 
jpkand

"My inclination is BP is more of a vehicle for original analysis and innovation and I can live with lesser writing skills if I am learning things or thinking about things in new ways"

I feel the same way. Here, I was very unimpressed with the strategy used to convey something interesting about G/F ratios.

Separately, it may be that I'm too used to academic journals but the writing was not the best of the bunch to me (I can forgive typos, however). I found myself constantly wanting to skim ahead even though I really wanted to learn something about G/F ratios when I started reading.

May 26, 2009 12:22 PM
rating: 0
 
Evan
(47)

I don't have any significant problems with the article (which puts it in the top half of the submissions I've read so far), but I found it uninteresting.

I don't think she sold the numbers very well. I don't have any real reason to believe that this analysis matters.

May 25, 2009 11:05 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

How significant of a problem do you want?

May 25, 2009 11:21 AM
rating: 1
 
ghirolib

Hey everyone, thanks for the comments and suggestions! There's been some really good constructive feedback on here, and hopefully I'll be able to come back next week and improve. In the meantime, keep 'em coming. And please vote to keep me in BP Idol!

May 25, 2009 13:54 PM
rating: -1
 
natashaos

I had several issues with this article:
1. "Naturally, Ortiz’s lower G/F should signify less line drives". I have never seen a correlation between G/F and line drive %, but I don't think this follows at all. I can imagine that some extreme flyball hitters tend to hit the ball with authority, and thus might also hit alot of line drives. I also can think of alot of "slap" hitters that hit tons of ground balls, but do not tend to hit lots of line drives. If you are going to make this sort of argument, some proof of this relationship would be helpful.

2. The entire paragraph on Teixeira. As some previous commenters have noted, a small sample size caveat would be useful. But in this case, even given that small sample size, you throw out the most recent week of data to make your point stronger. I am looking at his whole season (through the 24th), and Teixeira has a .951 OPS (.304 EqA), vs career averages of .920 (.305). he is hitting for somewhat more power, and hitting somewhat fewer line drives, than over his career, but I'm not seeing a problem here, other than some bad luck early in the season. On a related note, A-rod went 5-5 today without the benefit of a home run, so his BABIP is much less ridiculous now.

3. Broadly, I did not see a strong argument for the importance of G/F for determing offensive prowess. It, alogn with other data, helps provide an interesting picture of the shape of a player's production, but changes in G/F might portend drops in production, but I don't see that argument being made here. At the extremes, Carlos Pena and Ichiro have very different G/F rations, and differ greatly in contact ability, power, etc., but they both seem to be quite effective players, despite Pena's low BA or Ichiro's lack of power. Broadly, the rule of thumb seems to be that LDs are great, GBs are good if you have speed, and FBs are good if you have HR-type power. This analysis doesn't seem to add anything to that, and may even muddy the waters.

4. "G/F can be used to....protect against the statistically weakest batted ball, the infield fly.". Again, how? Infield flies don't have anything to do with groundballs. Using IF/F would seem to be a much clearer way of looking at one's tendency to hit infield flies than G/F. Alexei Ramirez, for instance, is hitting 50% GBs, but 36% of his FBs are infield flies (from THT), meaning that he is still hitting a very large number of infliend flies, despite his groundball tendencies. In contrast, Russell Branyon is hitting 34% groundballs, but only 9% of his FBs are infield flies, meaning that he actually has hit a much smaller number of infield flies than has Alexei Ramirez. Again, this is hardly statistical proof. But if you are arguing the opposite, what is the proof that G/F is actually associated with % of infield flies, and is this association meaningful, or is it merely a spurious result of those hitting more FBs hitting more infield flies along with all other types of FBs?

May 25, 2009 14:39 PM
rating: 1
 
BurrRutledge

I have a few problems with this submission, covered for the most part by the previous commenters.

However, one comment I have not seen yet is questionsing whether this article covers the assigned topic. Is this about BP Basics? What is the BP Basic being introduced and explained to the new BP reader? I don't see one. Or, perhaps, it wasn't stated clearly enough for me to get it.

Other than some quotes from Ortiz and Maddon, there are no references to outside sources to support the statistical claims being made in regard to HR-percentage or efficiency as a product of finding a 'sweet spot' in GB/FB ratio. Is this new research, or is it a BP Basic?

May 25, 2009 18:33 PM
rating: 4
 
Dr. Dave

"When David Ortiz connected for his first home run of the season, in the middle of a six-run fifth inning that powered the Red Sox to Wednesday’s win over Toronto, he told reporters in Boston that for the time in nearly 40 games he looked "like a real hitter." But if Big Papi is to keep poppin’ homers for the Sox, Ortiz may needs more than confidence: the solution could be to hit more ground balls."

I count at least two typos in that opening paragraph. Not professional.

This is also not a "Basics" article.

The sentence introducing G/F is extremely awkward; I think you meant 'ratio' and not 'rate'.

I also wonder how much of this is just a surrogate for line drive rate? It would have been useful to show something that GO/AO is showing you that line drive rate does not.

Overall, I was ready to love the topic... and didn't. The writing style suffered, but not to great effect.

May 25, 2009 21:31 PM
rating: 0
 
joshilles

I can't believe I got this far down before someone mentioned the typos. If she is being praised for being the most competent writer, even though she is the least proficient at analysis, then how does this not get pointed out?

Would I continue reading an article anywhere that started out with two typos in the first paragraph? No. No way. I don't know anyone that would.

May 25, 2009 21:52 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

You do bring up a good point. Her initial entry was submitted and published to MLB.com. Could an MLB.com editor have polished it up some? And are we thus giving her too much credit for her writing skills?

Don't get me completely wrong here.. writers often have other people, whether it's a wife or a friend or an agent etc check what they write... and the writer is the original source of the work regardless of what editors still... but having someone with professional editorial skills review your work can definitely help.

May 25, 2009 22:14 PM
rating: 0
 
jtrichey

Thank you BurrRutledge, because that was my first of many problems with this piece. I don't think it adequately explains ground/fly ratios, and that is a huge negative. I also think the theory that is espoused is far from proven and would just thoroughly confuse a BP beginner. I don't think it fits the criteria or makes any sense.

Does anybody really think that the answer to Ortiz woes this year is for him to hit more groundballs? It seems like the author truly believes this, and I'm not just unconvinced, but I think it is nearly ludicrous.

May 25, 2009 21:35 PM
rating: 0
 
krissbeth

If it's to the left side of the infield when the shift is on, yes. Getting his batting average up would be a start, even without power.

May 26, 2009 05:49 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

That's not what she suggested though... nowhere in her article does she mention the shift, just that Ortiz should hit more groundballs in general.

May 26, 2009 09:16 AM
rating: 0
 
TonyinAsia-Pacific

OK to read but lacks correlation found in a Freshman U Logic class...

May 25, 2009 22:23 PM
rating: 0
 
jdavlin
(630)

I have to concur with the last few comments. Not only did Brittany fail to execute the assignment according to the directions, but what she did submit was poorly written and, at times, incoherent.

While I personally hope she moves on, as I think BP could benefit from a bit more traditional baseball writing, I cannot vote for this one.

May 25, 2009 22:25 PM
rating: -1
 
greensox

I like this article.
This stat/theory also tears down the "Ks and homers are the only thing that matter" pitching theories.

May 25, 2009 22:41 PM
rating: -2
 
Jamey
(208)

I like Brittany's writing style, but this article grates on me. This article contains multiple errors which a basic grammar checker would have noted. I also note that this article demonstrates that the plural of anecdote is not data.

Overall, I'm left unimpressed despite liking her writing.

May 26, 2009 06:08 AM
rating: 0
 
cdkasdin

The FB/HR % decline makes me think Ortiz's power is now mere warning track power. I think it's tough to make this argument without at least thinking about PED effect here.

May 26, 2009 08:32 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Some day, I'd like to see an article discussion that doesn't involve PEDs... we almost pulled it off.

It's almost like some magical trump card that somehow explains everything while detailing nothing.

May 26, 2009 09:18 AM
rating: 0
 
Clonod

The thesis ("Ortiz may needs more than confidence: the solution could be to hit more ground balls.") is backwards.

Ortiz shouldn't try to hit more groundballs. He should try to fix his swing, and if he does, you'll see more groundballs as a side effect. I think that's her point for the final 90% of the column, but she tried to wrap it up too neatly in the intro.

Still, a strong column. I learned something, and it was well-written.

May 26, 2009 10:33 AM
rating: 0
 
deep64blue

Interesting to read the comments - to me this was the weakest article by far, perhaps reflecting that this type of area won't be Brittany's strength.

May 26, 2009 15:26 PM
rating: 0
 
Justin

Do you mean the "baseball analysis" area? That's a pretty serious weakness.

May 28, 2009 21:10 PM
rating: -1
 
rebsox

Congrats on making the cut, Brittany. You have a great writing style, even if stats aren't your strength. I will probably be lambasted for making this suggestion as it has nothing to do with the writing contest, but I have to tell you that your photo is frightening to me. I am a woman, I believe there are many great female journalists worthy of a career in sports media, and I believe your gender can be an asset to you in this contest up to a point. However, looking like a 22-yr-old fresh from the beach who just applied 8 lbs. of makeup and is on her way to the club is probably not the image you want to project to this particular audience. Sorry if that sounds harsh; I just don't know any other way to say it, and there's no direct link to e-mail contestants privately.

May 27, 2009 07:53 AM
rating: -3
 
ghirolib

RebSox, I'm sorry you feel that way as I in no way tried to give off a certain kind of image. I am 23 years old, and I am tan because I lived in Tampa for most of the year. Thank you for your kind words in regards to my writing style; I am making a sincere effort to improve my skills in using stats.

Brittany

May 27, 2009 09:48 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

As a hint, Brittany, if you want to improve your skills, it might help you to respond with specifics to the six pages worth of other comments here.

May 27, 2009 10:16 AM
rating: 0
 
ghirolib

Thanks Richard. I have replied to a few of the comments, and will work to address some reoccurring issues from BP readers.

Sadly, what people may or may not think of me because of how I look or my previous internship with MLB.com, however, is something I cannot control.

May 27, 2009 11:18 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Well, you replied with a "Good suggestion", then a general "Thanks for the comments". Those kinds of comments don't really generate a discussion.

I really don't care how you look or that you are a woman since neither your looks nor your gender should affect your ability to write baseball (though I will admit gender can provide an additional perspective to some kinds of articles). I do care that you omitted your MLB.com internship which seemed particularly relevant to your bio if you want to be a writer for BP.com. That just seemed all kinds of shifty. I like your writing and read not only your initial entry, and upon additional browsing, realized I had read other MLB.com articles by you in the past without realizing it and enjoyed those as well. Consider that... with all that I read, I still remember your articles 6+ months later. That's the kind of potential I'm seeing.

As I had written elsewhere, I like creativity and discussion... probably part of the reason why I comment like crazy. I like teaching and learning. When I see a submission that's from last October, then after a variety of comments on the intial entry, barely a word from you... well, I can't really get into a discussion with someone who isn't having a presence. To be honest, it looked like you dropped an article into the hat and didn't put much effort into following the discussion during the "initial week". You're doing better in responding in this thread, but still below par. People, myself included, are asking you serious questions because they want to learn about you and your methods, but also to see you succeed and grow.

If you're not a wiz at stats, that's fine, some of us want to show you what we want and to show you some things that might help strengthen your abilities. These kinds of comments you make are better: "Old-age baseball wise Greg. 33 isn't the peak of your offensive career, particularly if you are an AL DH. " Not perfect, but definitely a step up from a bland "Good suggestion". If you submitted a piece to MLB.com and they said "Good job", wouldn't you want to know why they thought it was a good job so you could do it for next time? Similarly, wouldn't you want to show Pat what good things you liked about his suggestion #1 to verify you understood him correctly and #2 encourage other people to enhance/refine that suggestion?

But, to be frank, you seemed more passionate and interested about a fellow Michigan State alumni then discussing your own article. On the other hand, if we didn't care and didn't want you to do well, you'd hear a lot of crickets chirping.

Now, for others who don't care about discussion, whether you comment or not might not be a factor. Enabling a discussion on something you wrote might just not be your style. But for me, those kinds of things are important. And if you truly want to learn how to be a better writer, then you should encourage discussion about your writing.

May 27, 2009 15:52 PM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

Brittany, I agree that nobody should be judging you based on your appearance. I may have missed the comments criticizing your past experience with MLB.com (I saw only the comment that your writing may be better suited for that site), but if they were made, they too would have been out of line. In addition, I think your passion for the game is apparent.

Unfortunately, however, I agree with much of the criticism of your substantive analysis, as well as your writing. As to the latter, even in the above comment of yours, you use the word "reoccurring" (which is not a word), rather than "recurring." I'm nitpicking, no doubt. But the fact remains that you instantly lose credibility when you do that. It's the equivalent of an obvious wrong note right at the top of the song. And in the case of your article this week... for me, dog... for you, for me, for you... you were pitchy throughout.

Some of the more glaring errors which haven't been mentioned yet, I don't think: "slap-style hitting similar to... Ichiro" implies that Ichiro *is* a style of hitting, not that he *has* such a style (it should have read "similar to that of... Ichiro"); "year-to-year" should not have contained the hyphens since it was not used as an adjective; "G/F" does not "assess[]... home run hitters," but rather, a "lower than average G/F" is generally "characteristic" of them; Ortiz is not a hitter "that thrives" but one "who thrives"; and it's a distinction "between" Ortiz and Teixeira, not one "from" them. There are several more examples, but I'm feeling petty enough for having mentioned these. And this is without even touching upon the flaws in your substantive analysis -- suffice it to say that the comment above about the importance of understanding the difference between correlation and causation is, in my opinion, spot on.

Good luck next week, but please do not mistake "spell check" for proofreading. And to the extent you are able given your assignments, try to stay within your comfort zone. There's no shame in this. Will excels when writing about such things as Conor Jackson's Coccidioidomycosis (which, incidentally, would be a really lousy name for an alternative rock band), but knows to steer clear of the heavy stat stuff. Kevin is a prospect guru, but eschews giving fantasy advice in his chats (albeit out of apparent disdain for the hobby). So there should be room at BP for a storyteller or "beat writer" type who focuses on exactly that, and who is cognizant of and appreciates sabermetric theories, even if s/he isn't necessarily able to expound them.

May 27, 2009 23:05 PM
rating: 0
 
rebsox

Thanks for your reply, Brittany; I certainly hope you are not offended by my comments. I mean no insult, and purposely wrote after the vote as my comments were not necessarily designed for public consumption. I do think you should take more seriously the concept of presenting a certain kind of image: that of a serious baseball fan. You are a bit of a novelty candidate in this contest, and leave yourself exposed to more nitpicking by not doing so. In the end it is the writing and content that count, not the pic, but people are anticipating your weaknesses and looking more closely for examples of them because of the image you present. I wish you the best in the contest, and look forward to reading more of your articles.

May 27, 2009 10:22 AM
rating: -3
 
Agehrig

After reading your ridiculous comments on Brittany’s article, you were correct in thinking you would be “lambasted” for your suggestions as to her appearance. Your comments about this contestant…”looking like a 22-yr-old fresh from the beach who just applied 8 lbs. of makeup and is on her way to the club” made two things abundantly clear to myself and to everyone who read them: 1. You have no business critiquing anyone’s writing on this website, and 2. you are a joke. Writing those kinds of comments on a BASEBALL website designed to judge the nature and quality of a BASEBALL article is laughable.

I hate to say this, being a woman myself, but, only a woman would make such comments regarding physical appearance on a baseball website. You claim that, perhaps, Brittany needs to take “more seriously the concept of presenting herself as a serious baseball fan.” I am curious as to how a serious baseball fan looks. Does she not look like a serious baseball fan because she is a woman? Or because she is a blonde? Or because she is physically attractive?

Please enlighten me. It is not her fault that she is young, nor it is her fault that men may find her physically attractive. The contestants were required to send a head shot in. Your ridiculous banter makes it seem as though she sent in a full-body shot in a thong bikini. It is not Brittany’s fault that she is the only young female in the competition, which is why her picture is in sharp contrast of the others.

Your suggestions seem to lead me to believe that you would like her to put on a Habit at all times when discussing and writing about sports. But, I am sure, as you said; she took the time to snap her photo before she went out to the club. Your insecurities over your own appearance need to be dealt with in therapy, on your own time, not on this website.

Let’s be frank: as a woman, she is exposed to more nitpicking, regardless of whether she is blond and tan, or not. People are anticipating her weaknesses and looking more closely for examples of them because of her gender. Females have a more difficult time gaining the respect of their peers in the world of sports media, but you are making this into a beauty contest.

I will pay you the same courtesy you showed Brittany of being blunt: those comments can only be characterized as the flagrant personal attack of an unattractive woman, resentful of the fact that Brittany actually has knowledge of sports. Your comments do nothing but show that you, and women like you, are the reason men write women off as having no knowledge of sports whatsoever. The type of women who only watch the Yankees, because they think Derek Jeter is “hot.”

Having said that, I am sorry that I had to respond in this way, but you lost my respect the second you made your comments about Brittany’s writing personal. Perhaps you should think twice about writing your personal thoughts about another person’s appearance on a well-respected website, and maybe save it for your diary.

May 27, 2009 19:42 PM
rating: -2
 
Richard Bergstrom

This is a baseball analysis site... every author, including the regular BP authors, are open to commentary, critique and criticism. People are accused of having an east coast/west coast bias, being not analytical enough, making errors, etc. It kind of goes with the territory since, in effect, a BP writer is a public figure, and thus, open to public commentary. And, if a person doesn't like another person for whatever reason, they'll often find some reason to appear to justify it.

As an addendum, some commentators are apparently criticizing Byron Lescroart's picture as well for looking like a frat boy pick. There were comments about Brian Cartwright's moustache. So, men can (and do) pick on other mens' looks too. It's not just a woman-woman thing. Nor should you imply that rebsox, in making those comments, is unattractive and resentful. That is definitely not courteous, and does nothing but instigate more bad feelings.

May 28, 2009 00:19 AM
rating: 1
 
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