A look at TotalZone from the batters box
May 26, 2007 2 Comments
Once I set up my play by play database to measure defense, its a simple switch to group the results by batters, instead of fielders. Specifically, I’m focusing on ground balls to see what hitters have the most successhitting the ball on the ground.
It should come as no surprise to you that Ichiro is the king of ground balls. Infielders (pitchers and catchers included) record outs only 64.7% when he hits on on the ground. As with my defensive measures, I am looking at only the years 2003-2006 for now.
I used a cutoff point of 500 ground balls, among the few who didn’t make the cut, Esteban German and Chris Duffy were slightly better. There are two ways to make your groundballs count, being really fast or hitting the ball really hard so it gets past the infield. Obviously we know what category Ichiro falls into. His 176 infield hits ranked second behind only Juan Pierre, but Pierre’s groundballs are outs 70.7% of the time, as he does not get nearly as many hits through the infield.
Others ranking very high include Willy Tavares (64.8), Rocco Baldelli (64.9%) , Alex Rodriguez (65%) and Kenny Lofton (66%). One of these is not like the others, while Rodriguez runs well, he’s not getting the infield hit benefit the others are. Gary Sheffield (67.6%) is another who gets a lot of groundball hits without a lot of speed. He’s probably the batter third baseman least want to see stepping up to the plate. Ichiro might make you rush a throw and look foolish, but playing defense against Sheffield can hurt.
The bottom of the list is dominated by pitchers. They hit a weak ground ball, feel really happy they didn’t strike out, and jog to first. A ground ball by Doug Davis, Claudio Vargas, Tim Hudson, or Brad Penny is an out about 93% of the time. Surprising to see Hudson because I thought he was a good hitter and athlete in college. I guess spending the first 5 years of his career hiding behind a DH ruined his offense.
Among the position players, Adam LaRoche is an out 79.4%. Lots of Molinas and other catchers on the bottom of the list. Jim Edmonds and Ken Griffey make a lot of groundball outs, almost all pulled to the right side.
A surprise is that Bengie (75.7%) outperformed the other Molinas. He did it by hitting the ball the hardest, as he had the fewest infield hits despite the most groundballs of the 3.