As the title suggests, I thought it would be a good idea to drag this out so that I can look at players in batches instead of subverting the depth to increase the width. There’s a lot of stuff here, but I think if you take the time to dip your toes, then it’s pretty easy to get acclimated to the presentation of this data. In this introductory post we’ll explain some of the concepts here and take a look at the team, as a whole. Here’s the chart that we will be ultimately building up to (Click to Enlarge):
Breakdown of the chart and more after the jump…
I looked at every pitch thrown to this group of guys in 2010:
From there I was able to put each pitch into a different bucket based on it’s horizontal and vertical coordinates. You’re right if you surmised that the inner nine squares represent the strike zone. We then have eight more buckets around the outside for Up and In, Down and Away, Missed High Over the Middle, etc… The strikezone is based on the Wide Zone that is one foot in both directions from the center of the plate. This means that there will be an extra 3.5 inches of plate on both sides. Since we’ve grown accustomed to a fluctuating lateral strikezone, then this gives a bit of a buffer zone between what is out of the zone and what is within.
Once all the pitches were sorted to their appropriate bucket, it became quite easy to break them down by pitch result. Recall that on any given pitch there will be five, general, outcomes. The pitch is either going to be a Ball, Called Strike, Foul, In Play, and Swing Strike. Occasionally you will come across pitches that are labeled Pitchout, Automatic Ball, Hit by Pitch ( I put these under Ball) or Missed Bunt (I put this in the Swing Strike category), but for the most part you see these nice groupings. You can see the breakdowns by result within this chart (use the legend if it seems a bit confusing) and I’ve color-coded these by SLGCON (TB/BiP) with the color ranges also in the legend.
I hope you are as excited as I am for the breakdown of each player that will be coming forward, but what can we learn from this look at the team? I found it pretty interesting how bad some of the best baseballers on the planet are when they expand their zone. It seems pretty intuitive that players will not hit as well when they are chasing out of the zone, but you can see just how much worse they are, particularly in the corners. The average player is generally around .500, while the Rays had a team SLGCON of .537. We can split this up to look at SLGCON within the zone (.571) and outside (.405). Not surprisingly, the Rays are at their best when the ball is right down the middle, but middle-down, and middle-in (from the right-handed perspective) are also areas where the Rays excel at getting bases per ball in play. Up and In (from the left-handed perspective) is the worst zone for production while having the second highest Swing Strike rate within the zone. I’ve also made a table for this data which you may find handy as it incorporates the Swing/No-Swing colums:
Welp, this will be the format going forward, so if you have any questions, please get at me on Twitter @SandyKazmir or in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as I can.