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04-15

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7

Going Yard: How Carlos Gomez Got His Groove
by
Ryan Parker

02-10

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7

Pebble Hunting: Yasiel Puig and the Prototypical Young Hitter
by
Sam Miller

12-06

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11

Baseball ProGUESTus: Explaining Mistake Splits
by
Evan Petty

08-13

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3

Baseball ProGUESTus: The Neuroanatomy of Hitting
by
Stuart Wallace

05-29

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23

Pebble Hunting: A Week of Watching Eric Hosmer
by
Sam Miller

04-18

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2

Overthinking It: Brett Gardner Gets Aggressive
by
Ben Lindbergh

01-29

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8

Out of Left Field: Teaching Myself to Hit
by
Matthew Kory

01-16

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5

Sobsequy: How to Hit, According to Kevin Long
by
Adam Sobsey

01-02

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2

Pebble Hunting: The Non-Pitching Value of Pitchers
by
Sam Miller

12-28

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4

BP Daily Podcast: Effectively Wild Episode 109: Eight Questions (and Answers) for the End of the Year
by
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller

09-21

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6

Head Games: Making the Pitcher Transparent
by
Will Woods

07-09

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11

Pebble Hunting: The Blind BABIP Test: Results and Revelations
by
Sam Miller

07-09

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22

Baseball Prospectus News: Introducing the BP Hitter Profiles
by
Dan Brooks and Harry Pavlidis

05-18

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11

Overthinking It: How Big Papi Got His Bat Back
by
Ben Lindbergh

11-18

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15

Baseball ProGUESTus: Why Having a Quick Hook Helps
by
Mitchel Lichtman

05-03

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7

Prospectus Hit List: Where Were You
by
Jay Jaffe

02-11

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14

You Could Look It Up: Three Joes and Some Other Guys Named Overbay
by
Steven Goldman

08-21

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29

Prospectus Hit List: Patchwork
by
Jay Jaffe

08-07

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15

Prospectus Hit List: The Post-Shuffle Shuffle
by
Jay Jaffe

06-28

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1

Prospectus Q&A: Rudy Jaramillo
by
David Laurila

06-26

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20

Prospectus Hit List: Closing In
by
Jay Jaffe

06-19

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23

Prospectus Hit List: Rising and Falling
by
Jay Jaffe

06-12

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10

Prospectus Hit List: Shuffling the Deck
by
Jay Jaffe

06-05

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15

Prospectus Hit List: The Rising
by
Jay Jaffe

05-20

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4

Prospectus Q&A: Toby Harrah, Part 2
by
David Laurila

05-08

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12

Prospectus Hit List: The Banny Man and the Manny Ban
by
Jay Jaffe

05-01

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12

Prospectus Hit List: Back to Earth
by
Jay Jaffe

10-26

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Gene Tenace
by
David Laurila

09-14

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7

Transaction Analysis: West by Central
by
Christina Kahrl

05-29

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0

Lies, Damned Lies: Evaluating Pitcher Hitting
by
Nate Silver

12-20

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0

The Class of 2008
by
Jay Jaffe

09-07

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0

Future Shock: Great Leaps Forward, National League
by
Kevin Goldstein

08-29

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0

Future Shock: Positional Rankings--Center Field
by
Kevin Goldstein

08-24

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0

Prospectus Hit List: Passing the Buchholz
by
Jay Jaffe

08-22

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0

Future Shock: Positional Rankings - Corner Outfield
by
Kevin Goldstein

08-19

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0

Prospectus Q&A: Tim Raines
by
David Laurila

08-10

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0

Future Shock: Positional Rankings - Shortstop
by
Kevin Goldstein

08-01

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0

Future Shock: Positional Rankings - Third Base
by
Kevin Goldstein

07-26

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0

Future Shock: Positional Rankings - Second Base
by
Kevin Goldstein

07-22

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0

Future Shock: Positional Rankings - First Base
by
Kevin Goldstein

07-20

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0

Prospectus Hit List: Getting Down to Fighting Weight
by
Jay Jaffe

07-18

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0

Future Shock: Positional Rankings - Catcher
by
Kevin Goldstein

07-13

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0

Future Shock: Top 100 Stock Check
by
Kevin Goldstein

06-08

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0

Prospectus Hit List: Padres Riding High
by
Jay Jaffe

05-24

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0

Future Shock: State of the Systems, NL West
by
Kevin Goldstein

05-11

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0

Prospectus Hit List: McNasty as They Wanna Be
by
Jay Jaffe

11-03

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0

Dominican Winter League Report
by
Carlos J. Lugo

09-19

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0

Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 19th
by
Jay Jaffe

08-29

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0

Prospectus Hit List: Week of August 28
by
Marc Normandin

08-23

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0

Transaction Analysis: August 18-22
by
Christina Kahrl

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April 15, 2014 6:00 am

Going Yard: How Carlos Gomez Got His Groove

7

Ryan Parker

This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst hit many dingers.

Most hitting changes are subtle and small. Even to the trained eye it can take time to notice a change a hitter may have made months ago. The emergence of Carlos Gomez, All-Star, goes hand-in-hand with a swing change he made at some point between July 6 and 23, 2012.

Before looking at those dates, let’s get familiar with Gomez as a player. He came into the league in 2007 with the Mets before being traded to the Twins in the Johan Santana deal. As a prospect, Gomez was a fascinating case study. I found reports going back to 2006 praising his raw natural power, but it simply never showed up in games. (E.g. “Power is not there now, but potential is there once he adds bulk to his long, lanky frame.”—Kevin Goldstein.) Where his power would take time his speed was immediate and his ticket into a big-league lineup. He never broke double digits in home runs in the minors but he stole over 100 bases combined his first two years on the farm. This was a guy seemingly built to lead off.

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On Puig's performance against fastballs, and young hitters' performance in general.

When you think of a young hitter, you probably imagine a kid who can catch up to a fastball but struggles to lay off breaking balls and off-speed stuff outside the zone. There’s no “used to be a thrower but now he’s a pitcher” equivalent for hitters, but if there was it would likely be used to describe a batter who learned how to lay off tough sliders. When Yasiel Puig came up last year and couldn’t lay off sliders, and teams responded by throwing him sliders, it surprised nobody.

There’s some confirmation bias at work here. Try as we might not to, there’s a tendency to create cultural profiles for players, and also to create age profiles for players, and probably also to create behavioral profiles for players. So Puig—young, by appearances a bit out of control, Latin—seems to the prejudiced mind to be a guy who would be a free-swinger, and perhaps a guy who would swing and miss at sliders out of the zone. And he is, and he does! Just don’t throw that guy a fastball and you’ll be fine.


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How much does a hitter's performance depend on the quality of pitches he sees?

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers, and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Evan Petty is a 22-year-old lifelong student of the game who’s studying Magazine Journalism and Applied Statistics at Syracuse University. Raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Evan remains an ardent J.D. Drew defender.


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Hitting a baseball is hard. What brain structures and processes allow big-league batters to do it?

Most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers, and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Stuart Wallace is a contributor at Beyond the Box Score and Camden Depot. A former pitcher turned neuroscientist, he currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. You can follow him on Twitter at @TClippardsSpecs.

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May 29, 2013 5:00 am

Pebble Hunting: A Week of Watching Eric Hosmer

23

Sam Miller

Is the Royals' first baseman coming out of his slump, or still struggling?

On Sunday, a baseball broadcaster informed me (and you and everyone we know) that a player on the Kansas City Royals entered the game 10 for his previous 28. “That’s a .357 average, so he’s coming,” I was told.

Eric Hosmer hasn’t done much this year, and his inability to take the great leap forward is a big reason why Kansas City’s go-for-it plan has disappointed thus far. But a .357 average, that’s pretty high, and if he’s coming, maybe the Royals would have something. It’s easy to buy into Eric Hosmer’s .357 average. It’s just easy to buy into Eric Hosmer, all the time, despite how long it’s been since he was good. He used to be so good, after all. And .357! Maybe that .357 means something.

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April 18, 2013 9:24 am

Overthinking It: Brett Gardner Gets Aggressive

2

Ben Lindbergh

One of baseball's most selective hitters gets into the swing of things.

Brett Gardner’s approach at the plate used to be simple: bend at the knees, let lots of balls (and strikes) go by, and wait until he walked. Pitchers can’t always throw strikes, even when they’re trying to, especially when the batter doesn’t have a big zone. Gardner consistently made pitchers pay for poor control with plate appearances like this one, from April 29, 2011:

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January 29, 2013 5:00 am

Out of Left Field: Teaching Myself to Hit

8

Matthew Kory

Hitting comes naturally, or else it comes with a lot of practice. Matt shares lessons learned from a lot of practice.

[Disclaimer: This article may give the impression that I’m passing myself off as an expert on hitting. If I’m the hitting expert, it’s only by default as there is nobody else in this article. If this were called Teaching Myself And A Rabid Hyena To Hit then the hyena, despite its medical issues, would be the expert.]

I love baseball. Maybe that’s obvious, since I write about it all the time (Seriously, dude, like, get another topic!), but I don’t just love it as a writing subject. I love playing it, too. I’ve been fortunate enough to play baseball almost straight through my life, from Little League to high school, a smidge in college, and up to last year in an adult league here in Portland, Oregon. There were breaks for the normal things in life, like marriage, having children, that cannibalism phase everyone seems to go through*, and work, but most of my life I’ve been on a baseball team. During most of that time I’ve never been able to hit.

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January 16, 2013 5:00 am

Sobsequy: How to Hit, According to Kevin Long

5

Adam Sobsey

An exegesis of Cage Rat, the Yankee hitting coach's treatise on being handy with a bat.

A ballplayer I know told me recently that Kevin Long’s Cage Rat (Ecco, 2011, 198 pp.) was a great book, so I went and got it from the library. I wasn’t at all surprised to discover that, whatever the reasons why the ballplayer called it a great book, they have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. By “great,” it’s necessary to keep in mind that what’s meant isn’t really Ulysses-great; people throw the word “great” around to mean things like enjoyable, not a waste of time, even serviceable. The word is a tool to denote general positivity.

Cage Rat is made of strictly functional, ugly prose—it’s often barely functional at all, in fact—rendered by as-told-to specialist Glen Waggoner in self-consciously vernacular style. Or maybe “vernacular”: it often sounds stilted, like a writer trying to sound like how he thinks someone like Long talks. That sections of it may in fact be transcriptions of actual Long speech is immaterial. It’s all clichés and received ideas cut into ribbons and reassembled. It’s probably exactly what all parties involved wanted.

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Is it worth paying certain pitchers more for what they do when they're not on the mound?

I was talking to a friend the other day who pointed out that, had Johnny Cueto not been knocked out in the first game, and had not Mike Leake been the Reds' uninspiring only option to replace him, the Giants probably wouldn’t have won the NLDS or, consequently, the World Series. That seems reasonable:

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Ben and Sam ask and answer eight mostly unrelated questions about baseball and themselves.



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Inside the batter-pitcher matchup: Can the pitches a pitcher just threw help us predict which ones he's about to throw?

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of devouring Dan Brooks’ and Daniel Mack’s introduction of Brooks Baseball’s newest toy, pitch sequence visualization. To me, this is a major step forward in deciphering how every aspect of one pitch—be it type, velocity, or location—affects the strategy of the next. I’m not even so concerned with the results of the sequences—ultimately, well-executed pitches get results irrespective of other factors—but the massive insight we now have into a pitcher’s plan of attack is exciting whether you’re an amateur sabermetrician or a young player looking for a strategic edge.

Pitch sequencing is one of the great white sabermetric whales; we’ve been trying to get into pitchers’ heads for years, but in a game where all hurlers aspire on some level to complete randomness, that’s a very difficult thing to do. One sentence from the piece struck me as particularly insightful, however, and I think it bears repeating. It’s exactly how we’re going to refine this holy grail of baseball into as useful, practical, and applicable a tool as it could ever be. Write Brooks and Mack,

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The results of the blind BABIP test are in. How did you do? And what can we learn from your answers?

On Friday, many of you took the blind BABIP test. I gave you 18 GIFs, in nine sets of two, each set comprising two batted balls. One was a hit. The other was an out. You guessed which was which, but you couldn’t see the outcome; the GIFs cut off at the frame just as contact was made, or just before contact was made. This was supposed to tell us something. I’ll get to the big result first: We’re the worst at this!

I tallied 82 full sets of answers, which is 738 individual guesses, of which 387 were correct. That is 52 percent correct. Closing our eyes and pointing would theoretically have earned us 369 correct answers.  All the wisdom of the 82 of you was worth 18 extra correct answers. So that's the big thing first.

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