SABR

Investigating foul balls as a skill

From SABR member Bill Petti at Beyond the Box Score on November 10, 2011:

It's often said that good hitters have an ability to protect the plate and extend at-bats by fouling off pitches. We've all heard some version of this, typically during broadcasts and almost certainly during sequences where a hitter manages to work a pitcher by fouling off a large number of pitches.

<snip>

I decided to update things a bit, looking at batter data from 2008 to 2011 for hitters with >250 plate appearances in each season.

Here's what I found:

  • The Year-to-Year correlation of Foul Ball Percentage (FB%)* was .72, which is pretty good when we think about hitting statistics.** It suggests, like [Russell Carleton]'s study, that the ability to hit foul balls is a skill or talent that hitters generally replicate season to season.
  • The ability to hit foul balls does not necessarily indicate that a hitter is more skilled. The correlation with Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), while positive, was only .23. Similarly, the ability to get on base (OBP) had next to no relationship with FB% (.079). The one batted ball outcome that did show the strongest correlation was power. Isolated power (ISO) managed to correlate at .45 and HR/FB at .47. This makes sense as strikeouts showed the strongest overall relationship (.74) and we know that hitters that display greater power tend to have higher strikeout rates.

Read the full article here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/11/10/2551718/investigating-foul-balls-as-a-skill-or-signal-of-skill

This page was last updated November 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm MST.

Individual Memberships start at just $45/year

Become A Member Today

When you join SABR you are making a statement of support for baseball history. You are joining a worldwide community of people who love to read about, talk about and write about baseball.