FanPost

Measuring Swing Effectiveness

Hand-eye coordination and reflexes are imperitive to a hitter's effectiveness.  As metrics such as BABIP take note of, there is a significant amount of luck involved with whether or not a hit ball goes foul, is a grounder, flies out, turns into a triple, etc.  The batter's essential job is to not swing at bad pitches (unhittable balls) and to make contact with good pitches (strikes).

In an attempt to determine who was good at discerning pitches to swing at as well as ability to hit those pitches, I took a stab at making a "Good Swing":"Bad Swing" ratio as a metric.

What is classified as a "Good Swing" or a "Bad Swing" I am sure is up for debate and I hope to get some discussion around the subject.  For this initial look I considered the following as "good":

1. A ball that was not swung at

2. A foul ball, including those taken on bunts and pitchouts - this was a limitation of my data...obviously a ball that is swung at and hit foul was a worse outcome than taking the ball, and you would hope once someone goes for the bunt they are successful

3. The swing put the ball into play

I considered these outcomes as "bad":

1. A strike

2. A missed bunt

For the 2008 season I summed the "good" and "bad" swings for every player and determined the ratio of good swings to bad swings.  I then removed anyone with less than 502 PA's, the cutoff for a batting title.

The majority of players are group somewhere between 2.7 and 3.3 good swings for each bad swing but as with any metric we see more extreme cases in the tails.  Below are the players with the best and worst ratios:

Player

Ratio

Yadier Molina

4.38742

Vladimir Guerrero

4.37867

Brian Giles

4.16421

Bengie Molina

4.06831

Magglio Ordonez

4.02472

Casey Kotchman

3.93643

Yuniesky Betancourt

3.88281

Yunel Escobar

3.87707

Jeff Kent

3.83776

A.J. Pierzynski

3.82952

Albert Pujols

3.77439

Brian McCann

3.74558

Robinson Cano

3.70175

Cesar Izturis

3.68047

Carlos Guillen

3.67233

...

Player

Ratio

Geovany Soto

2.50702

Cody Ross

2.49033

Curtis Granderson

2.48263

Dan Uggla

2.45921

Jeremy Hermida

2.44196

Casey Blake

2.41342

J.J. Hardy

2.41342

Franklin Gutierrez

2.39855

Jason Bay

2.37115

Chris Young

2.36842

Bobby Abreu

2.33779

Bill Hall

2.32929

Jayson Werth

2.23719

Jack Cust

2.23636

Mark Reynolds

2.07593

 I think this is a good start but I'd like some better data on whether or not certain pitches were going to be balls or strikes before the swing was taken, as well as opinions on whether I have accurately defined "good" and "bad" swings.

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