Friday, 11 July 2014

2014 Nationals Hitters' Batted Balls in Review #1

I have been spending more time on the World Cup than on baseball this past month, but during that I decided to start another regular review of batters' hitting, similar to my fielding reviews. Where the fielding reviews try to compare different systems to gain some sort of sense of just how much fielding is contributing to wins and losses, this review is going to examine whether hitters might be regarded as 'unlucky'. Another way to think about it is to see who might be hitting over their heads, or who might be suffering from an excess of 'at 'em' balls and may be likely to improve.

As anyone familiar with sabermetrics knows, one can evaluate batting events by means of linear weights. What this means is that a single is worth about two-fifths of a run while a home run, because it can drive in the men on base, is worth over three times a single. Research has revealed that types of batted balls can assign similar values. Line drives are worth a lot, while infield flies are almost as good as strike outs. There is a problem in deciding what category to place a batted ball sometimes, especially the difference between a fly ball and a liner, as symbolised by the neologism 'fliner'. So one needs to treat these numbers with a degree of circumspection.

What this chart shows is the difference between a batted-ball linear weight and Fangraphs' wRC. wRC gives a supposed aggregate number of runs that should have been scored based on hitting events. Some people have flares falling in, while others hit the ball hard, but see it caught. The batted ball number also includes Ultimate Base Running, to make it more compatible with wRC. Note that the chart excludes pitchers' hitting. The first column is wRC, the second the batted ball expected runs.

Ian  Desmond             42      33    + 9
Adam  LaRoche            49      43    + 6
Danny  Espinosa          22      20    + 2
Zach  Walters             4       3    + 1 
Anthony  Rendon          56      56      0
Ryan  Zimmerman          24      24      0
Bryce  Harper            12      12      0
Wilson  Ramos            19      20    - 1
Tyler  Moore              8       9    - 1
Scott  Hairston           4       5    - 1
Steven  Souza             0       1    - 1
Jayson  Werth            53      55    - 2
Greg  Dobbs               1       3    - 2
Jose  Lobaton            11      14    - 3
Nate  McLouth            11      15    - 4
Sandy  Leon               2       6    - 4 
Kevin  Frandsen          12      20    - 8
Denard  Span             40      58    -18
Poor Denard Span. He has been poorly rewarded for his efforts at the plate. I don't think any other hitter is wildly out of line with his results, but I do note that Danny Espinosa, whose .214/.282/.343 slash line isn't all that impressive to begin with, has been hitting a little bit above expectations.

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