Carleton: Getting to the bottom of the Barrel

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on October 18, 2016:

The fruit is beginning to ripen on the StatCast vine. Today’s secret word is “barrel.” Not the wooden vessel suitable for storing wine, but a well-struck batted ball. Think, “he barreled that one up.” The nice thing about StatCast is that we now have data on how hard a player actually hit a ball, which solves for one of the great laments of batting stats throughout history. Sometimes you hit the ball dead on the nose and the shortstop makes an amazing catch. The batter did everything right and, for his efforts, he’s now 0-for-1. (Worse, the guy after you dinks a little dying quail that just happens to go over the second baseman’s head and gets a hit.)

Until Statcast, we didn’t have systematic (public) data on how hard a batter hit the ball. Now, we know how fast the ball was going when it left the bat and at what angle the ball was “launched.” That gives us the un-biased look we had hoped for and maybe a way to give some credit back to the guys who hit it hard, but right at someone. “Barrels” are a first swipe at trying to quantify that credit. We can give credit to a player for hitting the ball in an advantageous way, without considering whether he was just unlucky to hit it right at someone. Sounds like a good deal so far.

But we need to look deeply into this barrel to see what’s at the bottom of it. Is it actually doing what it says on the label?

Read the full article here:

Originally published: October 18, 2016. Last Updated: October 18, 2016.