Blengino: The pros and cons of pulling the baseball

From SABR member Tony Blengino at FanGraphs on January 30, 2014:

The advantages of pulling the baseball have been an increasingly popular analytical topic in the fairly recent past – wildly productive slash lines on pulled batted balls, especially those hit in the air, can be readily trotted out for almost any hitter. Is it really that simple? Should hitters just stride to the plate and look to pull for distance at all costs, and then expect to enjoy the riches that ensue? Doing so, upon further review, appears to have some unintended consequences. 

First, let’s take a look at the frequencies with which hitters the ball to various sectors of the field, by batted ball trajectory and batter handedness.


The rightmost column of both tables simply calculates what I will call the Pull Ratio for each hitter – for LHH, (RCF BIP + RF BIP)/(LF BIP + LCF BIP), and for RHH, the exact opposite. It is simply the ratio of pulled BIP to opposite field BIP. You will notice that the higher the batted ball trajectory, the more likely that the ball is hit to the opposite field, and the lower the batted ball trajectory, the more likely it is pulled. The ratios are fairly similar for both left and righthanded batters, and widen quite significantly as the BIP groups trend toward the lowest trajectory group, ground balls.

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Originally published: January 30, 2014. Last Updated: January 30, 2014.