Zimmerman: Using batted-ball data in scouting

From SABR member Jeff W. Zimmerman at The Hardball Times on September 11, 2015:

Scouts have been trying to measure a hitter’s power for years. The best way they have found is to show up to the ballpark two to three hours early and catch batting practice. Then they judge how far the player can hit the ball and give the player a power rating from 20 to 80. This isn’t a foolproof plan, however. Sometimes you can’t get to the ballpark in time, sometimes there is no batting practice, or sometimes the player you want to see doesn’t take batting practice. Stuff happens, in other words. And even if you do get to see the player you want in BP, it is tough get readings on a player with just a few swings of the bat. Maybe the player isn’t as good as you thought, or maybe said player is working on something other than “hit the ball as hard as you can.” But, by using some batted ball information that has become available over the past few seasons, some new ways are potentially available to measure a hitter’s power.

Two available pieces of information are fly ball hang times and batted ball velocities. Inside Edge tracks fly ball hang times, but we have not found many ways to use that data until now. The batted ball velocity data, as you may know, is just becoming available to the public this season. I don’t feel the best about jumping to any conclusions with just part of a year’s worth of data, but some information is better than nothing. Analyzing both pieces of data will be a nice starting point for further discussion and research.

In attempting to use these tools to measure a prospect’s power potential, I used the power values provided by FanGraphs lead prospect analyst Kiley McDaniel—Game and Raw—for prospects who have been promoted to the majors this season. Additional information on his power ratings can be found in this article. I collected the prospect power values (and the rest of the data) on July 21, so the values will not line up with the player’s current stats. Again, I know this is not even close to being a perfect amount of data to draw any long-standing conclusions. But it is a starting point which can be refined as more data become available.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/using-batted-ball-data-in-scouting/

Originally published: September 11, 2015. Last Updated: September 11, 2015.