Woolums: An introduction to well-hit balls

From SABR member Ken Woolums at Beyond the Box Score on April 17, 2013:

Sabermetrics are founded on the idea that intelligent people can use a wide base of data to learn more about baseball. Sabermetrics also require a forward-thinking mind that is willing to test the limits of the impossible and can laugh at the notion that everything has truly been discovered in this world.

Last summer, I had the benefit of working as an intern at the SABR 42 conference in my second home town of Minneapolis, MN. While there, I got to sit in on a small analytics meeting that led off with a statement similar to, “Well, we’ve got offense pretty much figured out,” and the discussion immediately moved to defense. My only response to this was to think, “No. We absolutely have not gotten it all figured out, and we never will.”

Let me explain. About a year and a half ago, I was a 20 year old kid starting his senior year in college. In my university’s Sport Management program, we were required to log field hours working with a sports entity. I had the great fortune of working with Inside Edge Scouting Services, and this meant the rare opportunity to work with very intimate baseball data. When talking with one of my supervisors, we got on the topic of offense and what the company records. He told me that they logged what they refer to as “Well Hit” balls. This is where the story begins.

I’ve always been someone who is interested in the process of baseball more than the results. I like to know what a hitter is doing to get on base, I like to know what a pitcher is doing to get batters out, and I like to know what teams are doing to build rosters and win games. When I was told that “Well Hit” balls were being recorded by Inside Edge, I began what became my practicum work: 500 hours of research into what significance “Well Hit” balls (from now on referred to as “WHB”) could hold.

Read the full article here: http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/4/17/4235048/changing-philosophy-part-one-an-introduction-to-well-hit-balls

Originally published: April 18, 2013. Last Updated: April 18, 2013.