Blue Jays And The Next Big Baseball Statistic
By Jim Scott
The advent of advanced sabermetrics and StatCast have created a whole new universe of baseball statistics. What’s next?
New technology in baseball has given analysts access to new raw data, which in turn has led to the introduction of new statistics. Exit velocities, barrels-per-bat, and catch probability have given writers a whole new set of toys. But it also begs the question: what is next?
So, just for fun, here are some of the new stats that seem do-able and that I would particularly enjoy seeing.
Time to first
Definition: time from bat-hits-ball to foot-hits-bag.
The beauty of this stat is that it can be compared not only between players, but also for a single player between at-bats. I see Buck saying “Solarte’s averate TTF is 4.5 seconds, but he took 18 minutes on that ball. Guess he is not feeling motivated today”. The mere existence of this stat might help to keep players honest, and to ensure that they give at least a decent effort on each run to first (yes, this *is* a pet peeve of mine!)
Toronto Blue Jays
Height when caught
Definition: height of the ball off the ground when it is caught.
It seems that many outfielders are making spectacular (?) catches of balls that do not seem to require that level of drama. A fielder slows down when he dives, so if a ball is (say) four feet off the ground it is usually better to make the catch without diving – just as a ball seven feet off the ground rarely requires an exaggerated jump.
Average hit probability
Definition: for all balls put in play by a pitcher, the average statcast hit probability
Many advanced baseball stats are based on the assumption that pitchers have no control over the outcome of balls put in play. That is, there is no such thing as a pitcher who induces weak contact, or who reduces the number of hits by pitching to hitters’ weaknesses. This has always seemed counter-intuitive to me.
Now that Statcast calculates hit probability for all balls put in play, it should be easy to calculate an average hit probability and to answer this question once and for all. This stat could also be used in other ways. By comparing a particular start to previous starts, it might be possible to see if a pitcher is “on”. Comparing later innings to earlier ones might provide an early warning system as to when a pitcher should be taken out.
Definition: actual hits – projected hits
Using the Statcast hit probability, it would be possible to calculate the expected number of hits that a player gets in a game (or a week, or a season). For example, if Player puts the ball in play four times and each time the hit probability was 50%, his expected number of hits is 4 x 50% = 2 hits. If he actually gets three hits, then his “luck” is +1. If he only gets one hit, his “luck” is -1.
The bottom line
It is fun to think how these additional stats could be calculated, and how they could be used by teams, writers and fans. Your turn – can you think of any additional stats that would be particularly insightful / amusing to see?