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What can pitch locations tell us about the likely directions of batted balls?

“The phrase 'off with the crack of the bat,' while romantic, is really meaningless, since the outfielder should be in motion long before he hears the sound of the ball meeting the bat.”Joe DiMaggio

Before each pitch, a fielder wants to position himself such that a batter will be no better off making any adjustments to his approach.  Nevertheless, at last year’s PITCHf/x summit, Max Marchi used FIELDf/x data to verify DiMaggio’s assertion that fielders are in motion before the ball is put in play. So what informs a fielder’s first step?

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What can we learn from the circumstances surrounding a player's debut?

A bad first impression can be overcome, be it by Austen's Mr. Darcy or MTV's Snooki. (See, I make both high- and low-brow pop culture references. You can relate to me! Unless you haven’t watched The Wire. Then you’re dead to me.) Good ones, well—you never really know if you’ve made a good first impression.

We can try to quantify first impressions, like most everything else having to do with baseball. This being PECOTA week, I got to wondering about the predictive value of a major leaguer’s first plate appearance. When you think about it, there’s probably no more nerve-racking moment in a big leaguer’s career than his first time up. The moment is the culmination of a lifetime of work, and nobody forgets their first time. What can we learn about those who deliver? Are they any better than those who don't? Are they more clutch?

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