A double comes in many forms. A blooper, a blast in the gap, a slow roller down the line that turns into a "hustle double," and even a ground-rule double. All of these are considered equal when evaluating a hitter, but should they be?
When a batter steps up to the plate, his ultimate goal is to make hard contact. The successes and failures of a hitter should be based on the kind of contact they made, not whether or not the fielders were able to reach it or not. My argument is as follows: offensive statistics, as they are commonly used, are flawed because they do not paint an honest picture of the contribution of the hitter.
Take, for example, the following two plays. In the first video, we see Jedd Gyorko hit a bloop double that ends up crediting him with an extra-base hit, while in the following play we see Mike Napoli robbed of an extra-base hit by Colby Rasmus and ultimately get penalized for the at-bat.
Classic offensive statistics describe the outcome of the plays, but that still doesn't help evaluate the batting performances.
I believe that a hitter should be judged on a select group of things:
- Velocity with which the ball is struck by the bat.
- The angle at which the ball is hit upon contact with the bat.
- The timing and ability of a hitter to keep the ball in fair territory as well as make contact.
- The discipline of a hitter, whether they are able to swing at good pitches and lay off bad ones.