Arthur: Chase Utley is the unluckiest player in baseball

From SABR member Rob Arthur at FiveThirtyEight on May 19, 2015:

This early in the baseball season, most hitting statistics are worthless. Numbers like on-base percentage and slugging percentage — the core components of a hitter’s value — mean little in samples as small as 100 plate appearances. Without the usual tools, baseball columnists have to turn to other, more reliable (but offbeat) stats. Last week it was catchers’ pitch framing. This week: it’s how much a guy can punish a ball.

Until recently, hard hits were the kind of thing you could see but not always quantify. Fortunately, Statcast has come to the rescue. The new camera tracking technology, installed in all Major League Baseball ballparks in 2015, isn’t just about dissecting defense. It also offers an unparalleled view of hitting. Its cameras track a ball’s speed as it leaves the bat, allowing us to see when a hitter makes good and bad contact.

It’s good to smoke the ball. All else being equal, pitches that are struck harder tend to become hits more often and are more likely to fall for extra-base hits.

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Originally published: May 20, 2015. Last Updated: May 20, 2015.