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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We roll out a new feature designed to help you dig deeper into how pitchers approach hitters and how hitters respond.
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.
After looking like he was on his last legs in 2009 and again in 2010, David Ortiz has returned to near-peak form. How did he do it?
In the June 2009 issue of ESPN The Magazine, Bill Simmons wrote an obituary for the bat of David Ortiz. “Look, I’ve seen slumps,” Simmons wrote in reference to Ortiz’s awful April. “This was different. This was the collapse of a career.”
The Sports Guy can be excused for giving up on Ortiz too early. Ortiz was coming off a 2008 season in which he’d managed only a .293 True Average (TAv)—still a strong figure, but by far his worst with the Red Sox. His start to 2009 was far worse: Ortiz hit .185/.284/.287 with one home run through May. (That line translates to a .205 TAv, a near match for Albert Pujols’ .209 mark in 2012.) He was also 33 years old and stuck in the steepest part of the aging curve, which made his decline seem especially ominous. As Simmons wrote, “That’s what happens to beefy sluggers on their way out: Their knees go, they stiffen up, bat speed slows and, in the blink of an eye, they’re done.” Great hitters don’t often fade quite that quickly, but Simmons was hardly the only observer who thought Ortiz was over the hill. Nearly everyone who saw Ortiz early that season came away convinced that his bat had slowed significantly, and possibly permanently.
You might not know it from watching the World Series, but it often makes sense for a manager to pinch hit for his starter before the late innings.
Believe it or not, 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.
Mitchel Lichtman, or MGL, has been doing sabermetric research and writing for over 20 years. He is one of the authors of The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball, and co-hosts The Book blog, www.insidethebook.com. He consulted for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2004 to 2006, as well as other major-league teams. He holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. from the University of Nevada Boyd School of Law. Most of the time these days you can find him on the golf course.
The Washington Senators' history of first basemen makes one wonder if Lyle Overbay might have been an original Nat in a previous incarnation.
Lyle Overbay has never had an at-bat in the postseason. Some would say that this is not a coincidence, that a team operating with a de-powered first baseman is working under a handicap compared to those teams that carry hulking sluggers at the gateway. Yet, you can win a championship with Overbay. The Washington Senators did it three times.
A conversation with one of the game's great masters on the art and practice of hitting.
When it comes to teaching hitting, few do it as well as Rudy Jaramillo. Currently in his 15th season with the Rangers-the longest tenure of all big-league hitting coaches-the 58-year-old native of Beeville, Texas is arguably the best in the business. Called "a Hall of Fame hitting coach" by Alex Rodriguez, and "the best there is" by Michael Young, Jaramillo is a member of both the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. Jaramillo recently sat down to talk about his favorite subject: the art and science of hitting a baseball