SoSH Glossary: Pitchers’ Batted Ball Statistics

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SoSH Baseball Glossary

Baseball is filled with statistics, rules, and archaic terms that can often form what sounds like a foreign language.The Sons of Sam Horn glossary provides a better understanding of these terms through straightforward definitions, clear explanations, and examples pulled straight from the baseball world. If there is anything you would like us to add to our glossary, please contact us.

Pitchers’ Batted Ball Statistics

A pitcher’s batted ball profile conveys whether balls put in play were ground balls (GB), fly balls (FB), or line drives (LD), with home runs being counting as fly balls. Each type of batted ball is then divided by the total number of batted balls to find the percentage of balls in play of each type. Batted ball data is subjective; however, with a sufficient sample size, it can give users a grasp of the type of contact a pitcher allows.

Infield Fly Balls

Very short fly balls are treated in two different ways by the major data providers. Baseball Info Solutions classifies them as infield fly balls (IFFB), and divides IFFB by FB. Major League Baseball Advanced Media calls them pop ups (PU) and treats them as a fourth category, dividing them by the total number of batted balls to get a percentage. Because of the small sample sizes involved from year-to-year with IFFB and PU, their statistics are not as stable as the other types of batted balls from year-to-year.

Why Batted Ball Data?

Batted ball data alone can tell us if a pitcher gives up mostly fly balls or grounders. More useful, though, is pairing these data with a pitcher’s BABIP. Line drives have the greatest chance of becoming a hit, fly balls the least, while grounders lie somewhere between. However, fly balls and line drives have a higher chance of becoming extra-base hits than ground balls, so ground ball pitchers are more easily able to limit damage. A pitcher cannot control what happens once the ball is put in play, but he can control, to a degree, the type of contact allowed.

Parting Thoughts

  • A ground-ball pitcher will induce over 50% ground balls, while a fly-ball pitcher will allow over 40% fly balls.
  • Be wary of line drive rates, as they take a much longer time (650 total balls in play) to stabilize than ground ball and fly ball rates (70 total balls in play).
  • In 2014, ground balls resulted in a wOBA of .220, fly balls a wOBA of .335, and line drives a wOBA of .684.

Pete Hodges has written about the call up of a top prospect, an odd tradition, and Leo the Lip.

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