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kyleb 12-01-2007 07:21 AM

Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
"That kid's got tools!" -rwperu

"Carlos Gomez is an example of a toolsy player." -Any one of 9849843689 baseball blogs

Through a series of posts, I will attempt to display MLB-caliber animated images of players that best describe the five tools (of a position player) we see on a daily basis. For those of you who don't know my background, I played college ball, I'm a high school hitting coach, and I currently have delusional dreams of playing semi-pro someday. I have studied many scouting manuals, tons of video and literature about hitting/pitching, and focused mainly on the Chris Yeager style of rotational hitting (think Ted Williams / Barry Bonds). My inspiration is BBTF/HBT's Bullpen Mechanics blog, something you should definitely read for more information.

The five tools of baseball are:
-Speed
-Arm Strength
-Hitting for Average
-Hitting for Power
-Fielding

Speed refers to straight line burner speed; it doesn't capture baserunning ability (often considered an intangible). Arm strength is possibly the least important of the tools, but magnifies itself in right field or the left side of the infield. Hitting for Average is NOT the ability to hit for a high batting average, but rather the ability to make consistent <u>hard</u> contact. Jason Kendall puts the bat on the ball consistently, but it rarely leaves the infield. Hitting for Power is the ability to produce loft and backspin (remember these) with your swing - making hard contact alone is no guarantee of home runs and doubles. Fielding is what it looks like; subsets of fielding include First Step, Soft Hands, and Range.

Examples of young players that I feel excel in the above five tools:

Speed: Carlos Gomez
Arm Strength: Troy Tulowitzki
Hitting for Average: Daric Barton (interesting case)
Hitting for Power: Chris B. Young
Fielding: Troy Tulowitzki (I know, it's a cop-out)

Daric Barton is an interesting case because Daric is all about hard contact. He makes consistent solid contact with the ball, however, his swing has little loft to it. He will have high LD%, keeping his ability to maintain high batting averages (and higher-than-normal BABIP since LD% is the main positive component of BABIP) but possibly less power. Another example of someone who is not as good as Daric Barton but profiles in a similar way is Brian Barden, former 3B for the Arizona Diamondbacks (now in the Cardinals organization).

Anyway, I just wanted to clarify the difference between hitting for average and power using a real-world example. Moving on...

Hitting: The most important tool

No scout will disagree; being able to hit is important. But what do we mean by "ability to hit" - do we mean hit for power? For average? A dead pull hitter, or an opposite field hitter? Walk a bunch? Strikeout not much?

The truth is somewhere in between all of those. Scouts look for the following things in an elite hitter (in no particular order):

-Centering: The ability to center the ball on the barrel of the bat consistently. This leads to hitting for high averages.
-Plate discipline: The ability to take with less than 2 strikes if it's an unhittable pitch. All hitters have weak zones - knowing when to not chase into that weak zone is crucial.
-Loft/backspin: The ability to generate high fly balls that hopefully land over the fence.
-Ability to hit to the opposite field with power
-Repeatable swing; a swing that does not change based on the type of pitch thrown, the location, or the speed. A swing that can be comfortable and is free of flaws.

What are the major flaws in amateur hitters?

-Bat drag: The elbows lead the bat into the zone. This causes a late bat and saps power; hitters with significant bat drag will never be able to hit 85+ MPH fastballs and will not hit for power.
-Poor weight transfer: "Stay back!" No. You've heard it time and time again in Little League and probably from announcers - "you have to keep the weight back to hit the curveball." That is [censored] advice. By keeping the weight on the back foot, you are unable to transfer the weight forward and rotate on the front leg.
-Inconsistent stride: Moves the head in various directions, ruins timing.
-Poor timing: Not having a set timing mechanism (often the stride) basically turns every pitch into an off-speed pitch. Good luck.

The major league swing has four basic parts with many minor characteristics to those parts. For now, we'll stick to the four parts, which are:

1) Back leg load. The hitter shifts his center of pressure and weight to the back leg. This happens as the pitcher goes into his windup.
2) Back leg push. The hitter pushes his center of mass forward, generating power towards the pitcher. This happens as the pitcher is releasing the ball and should be complete as the pitcher releases the ball.
3) Front leg block. The front leg lands on the ground sideways and blocks the forward momentum of the hitter. This transfers linear momentum into rotational momentum. The decision to swing is now.
4) Front leg push. The front leg stiffens and pushes against the ground to help generate the final rotational momentum.

You may notice that I have said nothing about the hands above! The hands play an important but ultimately secondary role to the swing; without a sturdy base the hands are not relevant. Recall your ninth grade physics class - when you slap the ground, it doesn't hurt because you are hitting the ground, it hurts because the ground is hitting back. The same theory is applied in the baseball swing - by turning linear momentum into rotational momentum, we are generating our swing from the ground-up.

Notes about the hands:
-The hands stay up and point the tip of the bat towards the pitcher when starting. This causes a "hinge angle" that allows the hitter to simply rotate his body and release his hands in a circular path around his body.
-The back elbow buries itself into the side of the hitter. This produces the power position we want to release the barrel of the bat into the ball and eliminates any bat drag we might have.
-The hands move in a CIRCULAR PATH to the body - NOT TO THE BALL.
-Imagine barring your lead arm (left arm if you are a RH hitter) and gaining 180 degrees of extension. This is basically the position the bat should be in BEFORE IT GOES TO THE BALL. In other words, you swing the knob of the bat all the way linearly before you release the barrel of the bat into the ball. This maximizes power and produces bat lag which is good (not to be confused with bat drag).

Bat lag:

http://callyjr.hittingillustrated.co..._eyes%20up.jpg

http://img129.imageshack.us/img129/5...achmentvv5.gif

Here's a picture of Travis Hafner murdering a Twins pitcher.

http://kyleboddy.com/images/hafner.gif

I paused the image at the four steps of hitting, and slowed it down as his hands "hinge" to the ball. See where his elbow is? See how the hands move around the body and not to the ball?

Another Point of Contact still. Look for similarities:

http://img239.imageshack.us/img239/6...achmentgk6.png

Here's a fast-motion clip of a great swing from a right-hander, this time:

http://photos.imageevent.com/siggy/h...olsAlbert3.gif

Seeya.

Hopefully this helps you to understand how elite MLB hitters approach the game and what is important in the tool of hitting. Though I have written a lot, I could pontificate for several thousand more words easily, so if I've left something out or you have a question, please feel free to ask.

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:22 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Pole time:

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:26 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Also, in that last image, look at what part of Pujols' arms move first. Is it the hands? Is it the elbow?

bugstud 12-01-2007 07:29 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
looks like right elbow &gt; hands &gt; left elbow? I dunno I'm blind.

pretty fantastic stuff kyle

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:30 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
looks like right elbow &gt; hands &gt; left elbow? I dunno I'm blind.

pretty fantastic stuff kyle

[/ QUOTE ]

Yep. All you need to focus on is that the right elbow hinges first. That helps delay the bat and not release it too soon.

Thanks!

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:44 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Here's a vomit-worthy swing:

http://kyleboddy.com/images/hunterpence.gif

Myrtle 12-01-2007 09:10 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Kyle,

Good start!

What you're trying to do here is VERY admirable and I fully support it.

What I'm concerned with is that once you get down to analyzing each of the tools at the detail level that they must be discussed at, is that instead of intelligent discussion you will encounter disagreement that is based upon either uninformed or incomplete opinion and information.

Be prepared to be patient and do your best to explain (not defend) the principles that you will have to put forth in order to give those who truly want to ratchet up their knowledge about the mechanical fundamentals necessary to excel at the game.

Good Luck!

Assani Fisher 12-01-2007 10:47 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Gotta give it to you, this is pretty cool stuff. Questions for you....

In basketball there are some guys who have terrible form yet still for whatever reason can succeed(Shawn Marion's jumpshot is the best and most well known example that I can think of from today's game). Which baseball players(if any) have very basic fundamental errors in their swings yet can still succeed and what is it about them that lets them succeed despite this?


If you had to pick one baseball player that had a textbook swing who would it be? I don't know baseball that well but I've always thought Griffey's swing looked very effortless and picture perfect.


You mentioned two types of hitting "tools" in average and power. You then mentioned a bunch of good qualities scouts look for and a bunch of common mistakes. Of the good qualities which ones are more likely to produce power and which ones are more likely to produce average. Conversely with the common mistakes which ones will hinder average and which will hinder power? Or is this being too simplistic of a viewpoint?


I swear I really don't mean to imply anything about steroid by this last question.....how much does overall strength in your opinion help a hitter hit for power(or average I guess since "average" by your definition means hitting the ball hard consistently)?

kyleb 12-01-2007 11:19 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Assani,

[ QUOTE ]
Which baseball players(if any) have very basic fundamental errors in their swings yet can still succeed and what is it about them that lets them succeed despite this?

[/ QUOTE ]

There is a perfect answer for you, actually: Barry Bonds. He has a severe hitch in his swing (just like Hunter Pence's poor swing above, where he drops his hands before loading his back leg and bat) but is quite obviously one of the best hitters of all time.

See if you can spot it:

http://photos.imageevent.com/siggy/h...Barry%2016.gif

EDIT: He succeeds in spite of this flaw because he has ungodly plate discipline, amongst other traits.

[ QUOTE ]
If you had to pick one baseball player that had a textbook swing who would it be?

[/ QUOTE ]

Joe Mauer or Albert Pujols. Ken Griffey Jr. is a good choice as well and embodies the classic power stroke.

Mauer just has a sweet smooth line-drive-heavy swing that generates good backspin. It is simple, repeatable, and effective. It is for these reasons I use him as the template for my students.

http://lclifton.hittingillustrated.com/mauer%20sync.gif

[ QUOTE ]
Of the good qualities which ones are more likely to produce power and which ones are more likely to produce average. Conversely with the common mistakes which ones will hinder average and which will hinder power? Or is this being too simplistic of a viewpoint?

[/ QUOTE ]

While it is simplistic, there are strong correlations between certain traits that scouts look for. The ability to consistently center the ball will lead to higher batting averages, the ability to put backspin/loft on the ball will increase fly ball rates and hopefully power if the swing is good, and plate discipline will increase on-base percentage through walks and should also increase BOTH average or power (since you are hitting only pitcher mistakes or tough pitches with 2 strikes only).

EDIT: Pretty much all swing flaws will hinder both power and average equally, though poor weight transfer will hurt power more than average.

[ QUOTE ]
I swear I really don't mean to imply anything about steroid by this last question.....how much does overall strength in your opinion help a hitter hit for power(or average I guess since "average" by your definition means hitting the ball hard consistently)?

[/ QUOTE ]

It all comes down to the simple force formula: Force = Mass * Acceleration. Swing mechanics are responsible for the vast majority of the ability to deliver the barrel of the bat at high speeds, and it has been shown that heavier bats only produce greater distance if the velocity is kept at a high rate; obviously mass of the bat and bat speed are inversely correlated and as such heavier equipment isn't necessarily better.

I get that out of the way because the answer to your question is "it depends." Core strength is the majority of what is important in swinging a baseball bat (or a golf club, or punching someone) and it can be developed by traditional strength training. The key factor is increasing bat speed - the faster we swing the bat, the more kinetic energy we put into the ball at the point of contact. We need only look to the 1988-1991 Oakland Athletics and their revolutionary training techniques, giving way to sluggers like McGwire and Canseco, to show that strength training does work.

Strength training works in a few ways:

1) Greater lean body mass allows for faster bat speed and thusly more power in our swing.
2) Greater lean body mass as developed by compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, cleans, etc) will increase stabilizer muscles and help the hitter to "stay connected" (no bat drag, ability to maintain a perfect swing for longer periods of time) in the swing, leading to less mishits.
3) Faster bat speed not only accounts for more power, but it allows the hitter to wait on a pitch a fraction of a second longer, giving him a big advantage.

wh1t3bread 12-01-2007 11:38 AM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
I like this thread. Please continue.

Iconoclastic 12-01-2007 12:07 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
I'd love to see an analysis of Vladimir Guerrero or Ichiro's swings and approaches to hitting.

bosoxfan 12-01-2007 12:23 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
My daughter just started with a hitting coach for softball. The focus has been on back leg load and push. This really helps me understand what she is talking about thnak you for posting this.

tdarko 12-01-2007 12:25 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
-Bat drag: The elbows lead the bat into the zone. This causes a late bat and saps power; hitters with significant bat drag will never be able to hit 85+ MPH fastballs and will not hit for power.

[/ QUOTE ]

This is the one move every great hitter makes, he leads with the front elbow--the worst thing you can teach is to tell a hitter to throw is hands at the ball or to throw the knob at the ball b/c that doesn't get you into a slot. This would be much easier if I were in person oh well.

Leading with the elbow puts the bat in a lag position which you said it makes it drag which isn't right. It also locks the back elbow into the ribs--the power position mentioned like in the bonds picture. The barrel moves at a rate at something like 9 or 10 times faster than your hands do--so obv you want your barrel to move the greater distance than your hands. When you lead with the elbow, your hands are at about your chest and the barrel is still back behind you. Now, the ball is right in front of the plate--upon swing/impact your hands only move 4 or 5 inches to the ball at this point whereas that barrel moves 2 feet or so--but we want this b/c it is moving at a much much faster rate than your hands, THIS is how you create power. That is bat release, if you don't lead with the elbow--which every single hitter in each video did--then you can't release the barrel through the zone and you lose a ton of power, instead your hands are swinging the barrel through the zone which is slower and less powerful not to mention incorrect directionally much of the time.

Watch big league hitters take a pitch, they are starting their swings even though they take but every time they lead w/ that elbow, their hips and elbow attack and then stop...b/c what was coming next was the rotation and the bat release. This would be a lot easier in person, it is hard to discuss over a message board--it is hands on stuff as you know.

Another thing leading w/ the elbow does is what I learned in a big league camp--it is called "hitting in a big zone." You are told all your life to "swing down on the ball" etc., but what happens is that when you swing down on the ball the barrel is only in the zone for a split second--at contact, so you have to "time" the pitch perfectly and we all know how tough that is. When you lead w/ the elbow and the bat lags the barrel drops into the hitting zone immediately and stays in the hitting zone upon the instant of bat release all the way through hand break when the ball is long gone from the equation. This made immediate sense to me b/c I could remember seeing some of the great hitters looking like they were completely beat on a great fastball and they drove it the other way in the gap--and it was b/c their barrel was in the hitting zone--they were way late timing the pitcher but their swing was great which allowed them to get a hit.

Good thread Kyle. I have to get to a game, I will check this thread later.

Troll_Inc 12-01-2007 12:26 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
I like this thread. Please continue.

[/ QUOTE ]

100% continue. I don't even know why bother with a poll.

Excellent content, way better than this site probably deserves.

Anyone who voted "no" is a tard.

ArcticKnight 12-01-2007 02:45 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Great Thread Kyleb -

Some of "lag", "slot" and "butt end of the bat" explanations can be supplemented with side by side profiles of a batter and a golfer, if that helps some readers. It might help for some that are more familar with golf than baseball. Also, it might reinforce the fact that the hitting principles you discuss are matters that are not unique to baseball. The "storing of power (lag)" versus casting principles are, for the most part, the same in both the batting swing and golf swing. As is "from the ground up" approach the the swing sequence, and forearm rotation.

Great thread, keep up the good work. I think this thread and the follwing ones could provide a good veneue for you to feild newbie type questions, as well as some more complex questions around different approaches to hitting and teaching hitting.

Keep it up.

PS. I support your passion for the game.

Dudd 12-01-2007 02:58 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
About that Bonds video, is his flaw his weight transfer onto his front foot? If you compare it to the Pujols video where his front foot is firmly planted, it sure looks like Bonds is a lot more off balance at contact.

Rubeskies 12-01-2007 02:59 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Hey Kyle,

Great stuff.

My question has to do with "Intangibles."

You mentioned about great plate discipline (avoiding swinging at pitches in their weak zones early in the count). But what about other things that have to do with pitch recognition. As a pitcher in college and as a hitter in high school and summer leagues, I've noticed that certain hitters simply cannot identify the change-up or slider or curveball or splitter. These hitters have a really hard time against good pitchers that notice these things. Now I suppose everyone in the majors has to be decent at identifying these pitches, but my guess is that some are better than others.

For example, Bobby Abreu. When he is locked in, he often won't even flinch at a really good curveball because he recognizes it almost when it leaves the pitchers hands.

Micky Mantle was quoted as saying that he would be an average hitter today because he can't pick up the spin on a slider.

How important is this to hitting or is it one of those things like catcher's calling a good game that don't have much impact on the outcome?

Also, comparing the Bonds and the Mauer videos, Bonds looks perfectly balanced while Mauer looks a bit off balance (his front foot is all over the place). Is this just an unlucky video or does he always look that off balance? Or am I just interpreting the herky jerky motions incorrectly?

PokerFink 12-01-2007 03:18 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Hey Kyleb, great stuff!

1) I thought you were more into pitching than hitting, so it surprises me that you're a hitting coach and not a pitching coach. What gives?

2) What's your opinion on the Moneyball idea that tools/scouts are largely irrelevant and all you need is a player's stats?

(Also, does anyone else read his name as Kyleb (Ky-Leb) instead of Kyle B? Or am I the only idiot?)

jlocdog 12-01-2007 03:21 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Kyleb,

I would be very interested in seeing more players swings and having you break them down and compare them with other players of similar talent (ie. a Jose Reyes vs. an Ichiro or a Matt holiday vs. a Lance Berkman). Not that you need to use these specific players but rather players who have similar characteristics yet go about it in similar/different ways...

You da man by the way for this thread. Good stuff.

DesertCat 12-01-2007 03:42 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Why is hitting for average a tool and controlling the plate for high OBP not? OBP &gt;&gt;&gt; BA.

For example, Mark McGwire's career BA was .263 vs. a league adjusted average of .262. But his career OBP was .394 vs. a league adjusted average of .332. Was he an average hitter?

rwperu34 12-01-2007 04:18 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Great stuff Kyleb.

rwperu34 12-01-2007 04:25 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
Why is hitting for average a tool and controlling the plate for high OBP not? OBP &gt;&gt;&gt; BA.



[/ QUOTE ]

Once you get to MLB, this is true. Drawing walks is a secondary skill that is basically worthless if you can't hit. When dealing with projection, hitting the ball hard is a better indicator of sucess at the next level. Guys who draw walks but can't spank the ball won't get walked at the highest level. Think of the tool of hitting for average more like making consistent hard contact instead of a number.

rwperu34 12-01-2007 04:47 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
What's your opinion on the Moneyball idea that tools/scouts are largely irrelevant and all you need is a player's stats?


[/ QUOTE ]

As a two decade "prospecter", I can tell you that I use the scouts opinions and combine that with the stats to paint the complete picture. The younger the player and lower the level, the more weight I put on scouting reports. For example, in rookie ball, the weight is something like 99% scouting reports, 1% stats. For a 23yo at AAA the weight is closer to 50/50, maybe even 60/40 in favor of stats. Once a player has an established level of performance in the major league, especially after his 25th birthday, it's about 100/0 in favor of stats.

To answer your question directly, I do not think that scouts/tools are irrelevant, and in fact, with minor leaguers, the scouts/tools are more important.

Myrtle 12-01-2007 06:27 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
I'd love to see an analysis of Vladimir Guerrero or Ichiro's swings and approaches to hitting.

[/ QUOTE ]

Hehe....The "short" answer that you're looking for goes something like this:

There's "talent" and there's "skill".

What Kyle is talking about is how to increase you skill level.

The assumption is in the above is that one has a basic "talent' foundation upon which to build the "skills".

Every great once in a while we will find someone who has such an enormous "talent" for hitting a ball that they can do so without developing the basic mechanical requirements necessary for most human beings in refining their hitting ability to a higher level. As a matter of fact, their talent level is SO good that they can actually violate much of the basic mechanics of hitting and still be successful at a higher level.

The basic "talent's" that I'm talking about in this regard are....

Eyesight....

Hand to Eye coordination....

Reflexes......

Innate Strength........

kyleb 12-01-2007 06:33 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
Why is hitting for average a tool and controlling the plate for high OBP not? OBP &gt;&gt;&gt; BA.

For example, Mark McGwire's career BA was .263 vs. a league adjusted average of .262. But his career OBP was .394 vs. a league adjusted average of .332. Was he an average hitter?

[/ QUOTE ]

Mark McGwire was not a five-tool player. Just because he lacks the tool to hit for high average doesn't mean he is a bad hitter. You are not reading correctly.

kyleb 12-01-2007 06:34 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
Kyleb,

I would be very interested in seeing more players swings and having you break them down and compare them with other players of similar talent (ie. a Jose Reyes vs. an Ichiro or a Matt holiday vs. a Lance Berkman). Not that you need to use these specific players but rather players who have similar characteristics yet go about it in similar/different ways...

You da man by the way for this thread. Good stuff.

[/ QUOTE ]

Sure, I can show you the difference between the most linear hitter (Ichiro now, Clemente all-time) and the most rotational hitters (Pujols now, Ted Williams all-time). I'll keep it in mind.

kyleb 12-01-2007 06:37 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
tdarko,

Sorry; I meant to clarify that you don't want the REAR elbow ahead of the hands. You definitely want the lead elbow out.

kyleb 12-01-2007 06:48 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
You mentioned about great plate discipline (avoiding swinging at pitches in their weak zones early in the count). But what about other things that have to do with pitch recognition. As a pitcher in college and as a hitter in high school and summer leagues, I've noticed that certain hitters simply cannot identify the change-up or slider or curveball or splitter. These hitters have a really hard time against good pitchers that notice these things. Now I suppose everyone in the majors has to be decent at identifying these pitches, but my guess is that some are better than others

[/ QUOTE ]

Without adequate pitch recognition, you cannot succeed at any level as a hitter. Most hitters hit off the fastball and adjust to off-speed pitches, which is how I work as well. My sequence of hitting involves a soft focus on the pitcher's cap as he starts the windup with a hard focus in a small box at/around the pitcher's release point to determine what type of pitch it is. Most pitchers at the amateur level throw too many fastballs in obvious counts and don't work backwards, so I'm an aggressive hitter.

When you see people taking hacks at the first pitch, you often say "Christ, develop some plate discipline!" However, most hitting coaches I know say to look for a specific pitch and location - if it's there, you have to swing, because you were anticipating it, and that's a pitcher mistake you can't let get by you. If the pitcher is simply going to throw a middle-in fastball every time for strike one, taking it is foolish - it may be the best pitch you'll see all at-bat.

For curveballs, I look for a noticeably slower delivery by the pitcher, a shorter arm action, and obviously the hump in the ball when thrown. I have no problem adjusting to most curveballs.

For sliders, you look for a red dot on the ball; when it is thrown with the spin it will typically rotate on a stitch so you can tell the difference between a fastball and a slider.

A well-thrown changeup is impossible to detect. Pitchers that use the same arm action, delivery, and seam-orient to their changeup are miles ahead of you. If they throw a four-seam fastball and a four-seam changeup for strikes, you are basically screwed. The advice there is to not miss the fastball. However, many pitchers throw a four-seam fastball and a two-seam changeup, so you can pick out the differences occasionally.

An effective splitter is impossible to hit. An effective two-seam fastball cannot be hit out of the infield.

[ QUOTE ]
How important is this to hitting or is it one of those things like catcher's calling a good game that don't have much impact on the outcome?

[/ QUOTE ]

In the end, the catcher is not throwing the ball, the pitcher is. When I caught and called a pitch that was hit over the fence, I would feel bad. Ultimately, however, the pitcher decides what he wants to throw, so he is responsible for it. That's not saying a catcher is useless; catchers can often pick up on hitters' tells that are very valuable.

[ QUOTE ]
Also, comparing the Bonds and the Mauer videos, Bonds looks perfectly balanced while Mauer looks a bit off balance (his front foot is all over the place). Is this just an unlucky video or does he always look that off balance? Or am I just interpreting the herky jerky motions incorrectly?

[/ QUOTE ]

I am pretty sure Mauer is hitter a breaking ball in the video, which is the reason he is a bit disconnected. He (like most other hitters) hit off the fastball and adjust to off-speed pitches. That's what it looks like when you are adjusting (pretty ugly, eh?).

kyleb 12-01-2007 06:49 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
About that Bonds video, is his flaw his weight transfer onto his front foot? If you compare it to the Pujols video where his front foot is firmly planted, it sure looks like Bonds is a lot more off balance at contact.

[/ QUOTE ]

Bonds' flaw is the hitch in his swing. He pumps his hands down, then brings them up into the loaded position. It is wasted motion and unnecessary, but there's no sense in fixing what ain't broken.

HajiShirazu 12-01-2007 06:51 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
I didn't realize how much swinging a baseball bat was like swinging a golf club.

PokerFink 12-01-2007 06:55 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
To answer your question directly, I do not think that scouts/tools are irrelevant, and in fact, with minor leaguers, the scouts/tools are more important.

[/ QUOTE ]

So, basically, you think Billy Beane is wrong.

kyleb 12-01-2007 06:55 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
I'd love to see an analysis of Vladimir Guerrero or Ichiro's swings and approaches to hitting.

[/ QUOTE ]

This is fairly interesting; Vlad is a rotational hitter much like most successful power hitters. However, you probably refer to his "swing away" attitude and his ability to make contact with pitches anywhere within 10 feet of him.

Vlad's (and Soriano's, to a lesser extent) ability cannot be taught - it is innate and it is superhuman. IIRC, Vlad has a high pitches seen per AB ratio, not because he takes a lot of balls, but because he fouls off a ton of pitches that are meant to get him out. Vlad is a rare case of a high-average, high-power, low-strikeout, low-walk player, which is basically impossible, yet he manages to do it.

Ichiro has two swings: One with runners on and one without. When he is leading off, his swing is very linear - he takes his hands straight to the ball in a similar fashion to Roberto Clemente:

http://i16.tinypic.com/2r4ueqp.gif

This style of hitting leads to high contact percentage and low power. Of course, he is using it to get on base where he is a disruptive force on the basepaths.

With runners on, he switches to a more rotational style of hitting (but still has linear elements) to generate more power.

PokerFink 12-01-2007 06:56 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
An effective splitter is impossible to hit. An effective two-seam fastball cannot be hit out of the infield.

[/ QUOTE ]

I know it's outside the realm of this thread, but could you explain the split? I've always wondered about that pitch and why hitters flail so pathetically at it.

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:00 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
To answer your question directly, I do not think that scouts/tools are irrelevant, and in fact, with minor leaguers, the scouts/tools are more important.

[/ QUOTE ]

So, basically, you think Billy Beane is wrong.

[/ QUOTE ]

Billy Beane does not think stats tell the whole story. How could stats tell a story for a high school hitter, where the scorekeeper is usually a parent with major bias? How could stats tell the story of an NDFA from the Dominican Republic?

Moneyball made the A's office look like a bunch of scout-hating geeks, which is only true in comparison to the rest of the league. Jeremy Brown was drafted because he could control the plate; his flaw was he was fat. Scott Hatteberg was signed because he could control the plate; his flaw was that he was injured.

In a sense, the stats can only exist if the tools are present. No hitter with a garbage swing and poor tools will generate high walk and power numbers. That being said, focusing on what a hitter could do based on his "raw tools" and ignoring the fact he strikes out in 40% of his plate appearances and walks in 1% is equally stupid.

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:02 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
An effective splitter is impossible to hit. An effective two-seam fastball cannot be hit out of the infield.

[/ QUOTE ]

I know it's outside the realm of this thread, but could you explain the split? I've always wondered about that pitch and why hitters flail so pathetically at it.

[/ QUOTE ]

Any pitch that looks like a fastball but then does something else will [censored] you up royally. That's the long and short of it.

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:07 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
[ QUOTE ]
Hey Kyleb, great stuff!

1) I thought you were more into pitching than hitting, so it surprises me that you're a hitting coach and not a pitching coach. What gives?

2) What's your opinion on the Moneyball idea that tools/scouts are largely irrelevant and all you need is a player's stats?

(Also, does anyone else read his name as Kyleb (Ky-Leb) instead of Kyle B? Or am I the only idiot?)

[/ QUOTE ]

1) I love pitching, but over the last year or so, I've learned that I can pick up hitting a lot easier. It makes sense and is much easier to explain, study, and practice. I'll do a short bit on pitching later on as well.

2) That's not really the Moneyball idea, but I see why people get that feeling based on Lewis's book. I believe what a player has done (stats) is more important than what a player can do (tools), but too much reliance on stats will lead to the Blue Jays Syndrome - getting a ton of low-ceiling low-variance players in your farm system without any impact players.

Drafting mainly college kids with emphasis on what they have done rather than what they can do will lead to a farm system that produces a high percentage of players to make AAA/MLB, but a low percentage of All-Stars.

Drafting mainly high school / foreign kids with emphasis on tools rather than what they have done will lead to a depleted farm system that produces a low percentage of players to make AAA/MLB, but a higher percentage of All-Stars.

You need a blend of both to succeed.

PokerFink 12-01-2007 07:08 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
Re: Billy Beane

According to rwperu, a "two decade prospector": <font color="#666666"> "For example, in rookie ball, the weight is something like 99% scouting reports, 1% stats. For a 23yo at AAA the weight is closer to 50/50, maybe even 60/40 in favor of stats."</font>

Billy would say that, even for college players that aren't even too rookie ball yet, you don't need the scouts. They were drafting college kids based on stats with almost a complete disregard for scouting them.

We're not talking highschool kids here. We're talking college+. And for that age range, we have Billy Beane at 95%+ stats and our poster at "99%" scouting.

Edit: Ok just saw your post that you got in before this one, that makes a lot of sense.

Edit2: I was also under the impression that it went college --&gt; rookie ball --&gt; minors, although some people will jump a level. I vaguely remember reading about Swisher and Brown playing in rookie ball before getting into the minors.

And even still, rwperu was talking AAA not A ball, although I don't know how he would assign the %s at A. And regardless, there is obviously a big gap between his philosophies and that of Beane.

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:09 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
College+ kids don't go to rookie ball. They go to various A levels of ball, so what rwperu said is still valid.

EDIT: Well, good college kids don't go to rookie ball unless it's short-season.

I would be willing to bet that Beane uses a lot more traditional scouting analysis than he has ever admitted.

bottomset 12-01-2007 07:15 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
very interesting thread

[img]/images/graemlins/heart.gif[/img] Joe Mauer

kyleb 12-01-2007 07:22 PM

Re: Introduction to Five Tools Analysis: Hitting
 
I would also like to take this opportunity to brag about my new custom-turned bats from NYStixs:

http://baseballdelusions.com/blog/wp...07/12/bats.jpg


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