Thursday, April 23, 2009

Home Run Rate vs. Height of Pitch

Spring semester is wrapping up, which is a good thing, but it also means that it's time for finals, so I'm going to be bogged down with a bunch of studying over the next few weeks and posting will be very sporadic. However, I will be keeping an eye on what's going on in baseball, so I'll try and keep everyone up-to-date on at least the more significant details.

Anyways, I was skimming articles at The Hardball Times this afternoon when I came across an article titled What Makes a Home Run Pitch by Jonathan Hale. As many of you know, I'm a big supporter of groundball pitchers, so I was interested to see exactly what this particular article had to say about the location of pitches that most often resulted in home runs.

To summarize, the article was very well written, and made some interesting observations. A pitch just over a foot off the ground has essentially a zero percent chance of clearing the fence, and the rate of home runs increases almost in a linear fashion as the pitch rises up to a vertical height of 3.5 feet off the ground. Obviously, this means that "keeping the ball down" is the ideal approach for minimizing home runs, and pitchers that have a tendency to leave the ball up in the zone will surrender considerably more home runs.

The article also breaks home run rates down by horizontal location, as well as pitch type. The pitch most likely to not result in a home run? The sinker. Not exactly earth shattering news, but it's just one more example of why 2 pitchers with the exact same strikeout and walk rates but differing groundball rates may end up with considerably different WHIPs, ERAs, and win to loss ratios.

It's a good piece of writing, and well worth a look for anyone interested.

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