July 13, 2012
Normalized Hitter/Pitcher Profiles Have Arrived
First, thanks for your enormous level of support and feedback for our new Hitter and Pitcher Profiles. Because of your suggestions, we increased the number of sortable statistics to 19, added several new color schemes, changed some of the layout, and added several new multi-sort options. Your feedback makes building new and great tools easier, so thanks!
We want to announce a new option on our tools and briefly describe how it works. This option is “normalization,” which allows you to compare a pitcher or hitter to other similar pitchers or hitters. It works only for a few of the 19 sorts right now—it will work for all of them eventually—but we think that the most instructive sort is “frequency,” so we’ll describe it using that and let you play around with it. We’ve already done some limited “beta testing” of this new feature via Twitter, and people found it really fun and informative, so we’re excited to announce it on Baseball Prospectus. (As an aside, Harry and I often beta new features late at night on Twitter, so you can come follow us and be part of the creative process if you want.)
Back to normalization. The idea here is to compare how a hitter is pitched relative to other hitters of the same handedness. A great example is Adrian Gonzalez, whose default frequency chart is below:
First, let’s drill down into this data a bit and pull up how LHP have pitched him with hard stuff.
We see a general trend to pitch him middle-middle and middle-away. But only some of that distribution of pitches is due to being Adrian Gonzalez. Some of it is due to being a left-handed hitter. The question is, how is Adrian different from left-handed hitters as a group? To answer that question, let’s flip on the lense of normalization:
Now we see a stunningly different picture, showing that Adrian Gonzalez is actually pitched inside relative to other left-handed hitters. In other words, although the distribution of pitches that Adrian Gonzalez sees is skewed middle-middle and middle-outside, compared to the aggregate left-handed hitter, Gonzalez is actually pitched much more strongly toward the inside of the strike zone.
Dan Brooks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @brooksbaseball