Simon: Torii Hunter’s new approach produces big results

From SABR member Mark Simon at on May 14, 2013:

Over the final 2 1/2 months of the 2012 season, Torii Hunter had the kind of breakthrough that a major league hitter of any caliber rarely goes through.

In his final 73 games with the Los Angeles Angels, Hunter had 100 hits, although only six home runs.

Hunter’s batting average on balls in play was a staggering .443 –- 94 hits on the 212 opportunities in which the ball did not leave the park.

Hunter has always been a productive hitter, one whose BABIP ranged from the .290s to the .330s, averaging out at about .310 over the 14 seasons in which he played 90 games or more.

The .443 second-half took a BABIP that was .324 at the break and turned it into .389 by season’s end.

Since this was so out of character for Hunter, it figured that Hunter would return to a more normal level in 2013, perhaps even decline a bit since he turns 38 in July.

But the first 27 games of 2013 were a lot like those last 73 in 2012, with Hunter getting 42 base hits on the first 100 balls that stayed in the ballpark. Add that to last season, and it gave him a .436 BABIP over a 100-game span.

The idea of Hunter being as good as he was over those 100 games, and with two different franchises, was intriguing. Our analytics team pegged it as something with about 4,000-to-1 odds of happening. So we took a closer look at how a hitter could produce at that level for that long.

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Originally published: May 14, 2013. Last Updated: May 14, 2013.