Two-Seam vs. Four-Seam Fastball Groundball Rates

Yesterday, pulled some data for Eno Sarris on pitch type and groundball rates. He was looking for the average groundball rates for different pitch types. I stole a bit of the data and ran a query I have wanted to for a while: What is the average groundball rate difference for a pitcher who throws both two-seam and a four-seam fastball. For those who don’t know, a two-seam fastball has more movement than a four-season. And what I found was:

Pitchers will see a 9.5% point increase in their groundball rate when they throw their two-seam fastball compared to their four-seam fastball.

Grit Redefined?

I have used and written on grit in so many different ways over the years. My usage includes a stat to find gritty players and a fantasy league which had only grit based stats (e.g. hit-by-pitch and complete games). I have always considered grit to be “giving as close to 100%, 100% of the time” especially related to under talented players. Recently, I ran across the following definition of grit by Kyle McDonald which defines it differently:

the perseverance and passion required for long term goals.”

The first part, perseverance and passion, generally fits my implied grit definition. I see grit has a more short term trait. For example, McDonald says coaches and player state:

we need to be gritty” or “it was a gritty effort.”

Those statements do not seem like long term goals, they are more game based. When a coach says, “it was a gritty effort” after a game, there is no implication to the team working towards long term goals. Instead the coach is only talking about the game effort.

Also, the grit I know means physically going the extra yard by diving for a ball or playing through pain. By just using the author’s definition, a player like Miguel Cabrera can have the drive to achieve long term goals and is therefore gritty. I would not consider Cabrera to be gritty like Willie Bloomquist is considered to be. Am I off on my grit definition? Thoughts?

Two Views on Pre-Game Player Engagement

I have been slowly working my way through the Mental Game of Baseball. It focus’s on players being more into the game. The following book quote is on pre-game fielding ritual:

Infield

It seems the book authors and Ozzie Smith imply infielders should be concentrating 100% during pre-game practice.

The Diamondback Head Trainer, Ken Crenshaw, has taken a different philosophy to the pre-game ritual. It should be low stress and focus on player rest and recovery.

And for baseball, recovery is imperative.

“We want to create the environment where they can recover because the game is so monotonous and the repetitiveness of it all. We have a lot of different methods of rest and recovery that we focus on. It is one of the most important things that we do for our players.”

A baseball season is filled with many factors that can affect a player’s health. Travel, time-zone changes and changes in altitude are three things Crenshaw says “will really turn a player’s nervous system haywire if they are not careful.”

I am not sure which one is right. I am guessing it really depends on each player, but I am sure teams will either go fully engaged or not at all. Thoughts?

Updates – New Leaderboards and Release Point Variance

A few updates got finished today (more on the way). Thanks to Darrell for doing the coding. Let us know if anything looks wrong.

New leaderboards

For Hitters:

For Pitchers:

Additionally, total and vertical release point variance with baselines were added to the pitcher injury factors output.

Player Makeup Important for Baseball Prospects

I just got done re-reading one of the best articles on scouting called Best Tools (link). It contains some amazing information from actual scouts on what they are looking for in a prospect’s makeup. With so many prospects equally matched in talent, makeup plays a huge role in deciding who gets scholarships and/or draft and who doesn’t.

First, I just can’t rightfully cut and paste a whole section of the article, so the Scouting Makeup section (about 2/3 of the way down) should be read in full. It is a great how-to on what to and not to do on and off the field. Here are some quotes from the section.

I’m going to go talk to the bus driver, I’m going to go talk to the cafeteria lady, I’m going to talk to the janitor—the people who are around the kid the most but have no horse in the race and find out exactly what this kid is all about.

and

Obviously there’s always exceptions, but the good students, from a scouting perspective, are going to be able to retain instruction and figure it out.

and

Every guy, whatever the story is behind them, is going to hit a tough spot and you want to see how he’s going to deal with adversity, so hopefully you do see him in some sort of spot in a game where you can figure out if he’s going to rise to it or if he’s going to shrink from the moment. You see how the guy interacts with his teammates and you talk to his coaches to see what kind of work ethic the player has.

Besides the entire section on makeup here are some notable quotes from the infield defense section.

You want to get there early and watch him take groundballs and infield practice. While they’re taking batting practice, see how he shags them off the bat—if he does shag them off the bat. Maybe he’s the type of guy that doesn’t do that. That tells you a little bit about the guy, too. But maybe he’s power shagging out there, taking all kinds of balls off the bat in the infield or outfield. And then, of course during the infield practice, you really bear down on him to look at his instincts and his actions and his range and his arm strength to get a feel for the glove.

and

What I don’t like as a scout is when the infielders just half-ass the ball over to first and don’t show any arm strength. We’ve got to see the arm strength. When we don’t see it, we have to project it.

Every potential prospect needs to understand they are being looked at under a microscope and the little things will make a huge difference on which players will be offered college scholarships and/or drafted.

High Walk Rate Aging Curve

Over at tangotiger.com, MGL asks if the following statement is true.

“Of all of the skills to sign up for past a players prime, however, plate discipline is probably the best one.”

I decided to create an wRC+ aging curve of high walk players.  I know the quote is for high plate discipline, but I am not sure how exactly plate discipline should be defined. The article focused on Shin-Soo Choo, so I waned to players with similar walk rates. Over the past three seasons (age 28 to 30 seasons), Choo has walked (NIBB) 12% of the time. So for the curve, I used players since 1980 who had less than or greater than a 10% walk rate between their age 28 and 30 seaons (min 300 PA).

While the high walk players plateau sooner, they begin to decline at the same rate around age 28. High walk players don’t really age any better than lower walk players.