Here’s installment 2 of Advanced Stats by Pat. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read these and thanks to Aaron for giving me a platform to nerd out.
Launch Angle/Exit Velocity:
I’m sure you’ve heard these terms flying around the last couple of years in the league. Launch angle is simply the angle at which the barrel of the bat hits the ball. Exit velocity is the speed at which the ball leaves the bat. I couldn’t separate these two because the success of a base hit is the combination of both. The success of a hit varies by launch angle, but not by exit velocity. For example, a ball that’s hit at a 20 degree angle at 80mph might not go out, but that same angle at 105mph will go out. To piggyback off of that, your batting average increases 50 points from 91mph to 95mph. Players have been obsessed with these angles and velocities because harnessing the combination of both leads to easy hits. Joey Gallo was one of the first players mentioned with these terms due to his ability to get more extra base hits than singles.
This was created to show how much range a fielder has. It’s taken by dividing the sum of a fielder's putouts and assists by his total number of defensive games played. As mentioned before, defensive statistics are flawed. Range factor doesn’t take into account having a ground ball pitcher compared to a strikeout pitcher. A ground ball pitcher will give their fielders more opportunities to make plays whereas a strikeout pitcher won’t. Range factor is broken down by position, because there’s no accurate way to account for the difficulty in playing SS compared to a RF. Active leaders in range factor for outfield is Lorenzo Cain (2.57), Leonys Martin (2.30), and Ender Inciarte (2.07). Shortstops, comparatively, are Andrelton Simmons (4.37), Elvis Andrus (4.32), and Starlin Castro (4.27).
Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP):
BABIP takes account how many batted balls in play turn into hits, excluding home runs. It’s used for both pitchers and hitters. I personally evaluate pitchers by FIP and BABIP. You don’t want too high or too low of a BABIP. Too high means that your team can’t field or you’re just getting lucky. Too low means that your lining right into people or the team you are pitching for a team that has a stellar defense. The average BABIP settles around .300. It’s a more difficult stat to judge hitters by, especially at the minor league level. Exceptional prospects might have a .450 BABIP and that’s just because they’re more talented than their counterparts. One glaring BABIP number this past year was Justin Verlander. His BABIP finished at .218. His career average is .280. This means that Verlander is due for a breakdown at some point soon. As I type this, he’s given up 3 runs through 2 innings in the ALDS. Numbers never lie!