Trueblood: The best hitters against good pitching

From Matthew Trueblood at Baseball Prospectus on January 24, 2019:

If we could isolate and bottle it, the single skill for which MLB teams might reliably pay the most is the ability to hit good pitching. It’s everyone’s Holy Grail; it’s the slight edge that can flip a playoff series. Baseball history swings a dozen times every year on whether or not a hitter comes up with a key hit against a good pitcher. Conventional wisdom says good pitching beats good hitting, but maybe certain good hitters are immune to conventional wisdom.

Alas, if that’s true, we’ve been utterly unable to detect and predict it. We only know about the outliers, and in many cases we’re even unsure whether they’re outliers in a real and lasting way or whether they just happen to have performed well in a few selected plate appearances. A large number of attempts have been made, using methods ranging from laughably bad to impressively nuanced, but we’ve yet to produce evidence that any meaningful portion of the population of batters has the ability to hit good pitching especially well.

Indeed, several of the most important foundational questions in this area resist any satisfactory resolution. Over what period is it reasonable to assess this skill? How should one define “good pitching”? Is it more valuable to know the raw performance against some set of good pitchers, or to know the difference between overall performance and performance against that set? In the public arena, no consensus about these issues has developed.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 24, 2019. Last Updated: January 24, 2019.