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Has the air ball revolution hurt us most?

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Since the dawn of Statcast, there's been a lot of talk about launch angles, and certain famous instances of guys like Daniel Murphy and Yonder Alonso transforming themselves as hitters by lifting the ball more.  During a Murphy at-bat recently, I heard a commentator say Murphy told him his goal is to never let an infielder get a ball.

I've thought a lot about our run prevention struggles since in the context of that comment.  Infield defense has been our traditional strength, but is being bypassed, and the tough part is it seems, broadly speaking, batters can control their launch angle with intent.  As an aside, if things keep moving this way, I would guess it isn't many more years before a 4 OF/3 IF shift gets a trial run.

I looked at the Orioles Pitching Splits for Hit Trajectory since 2012, and B-Ref has the seasonal GB percentages at .444, .421, .439, .456, .452 and, this year, .425.  It isn't as dramatic a drop as I might have guessed, and maybe that's just Britton being absent half a season, but it does still feel to me like the batter air ball strategy is especially damaging to the run prevention game plans of our recent successful teams.

 

 

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I think you can definitelly see it with Manny and since Yonder is his brother inlaw maybe that's why. But it's a bad strategy IMO. A hard hit GB has a better chance of being a hit, than a COC or a PU.

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Pretty good point about the infield defense. I'm going to guess the "air ball revolution" has hurt us more than most, but for a more general reason-- everyone else started getting better at something we were already good at, and it happened to be something that enabled opponents to further exploit our already shaky pitching staff. 

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Without Statcast, I'm sure players of the 1950's and 1960's knew it was easier to hit HR's with an uppercut swing. Hitters have always been able to change their swings to cut down on ground balls. I don't see launch angle info being ground breaking, just confirming what we already knew, and giving it more granularity. 

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I don't know if enough of the league is following this for it to really matter.  We hear about the guys who are having success doing and so maybe there is some confirmation bias in thinking it matters more than it does.

I think the pitching has been bad and you can't take much from a half a seasons worth of GB/FB ratios.

That said, the Orioles should be a team who values GB pitchers and I think this year they have been valuing guys who get outs any way they can get them.

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3 hours ago, El Gordo said:

I think you can definitelly see it with Manny and since Yonder is his brother inlaw maybe that's why. But it's a bad stategy IMO. A hard hit GB has a better chance of being a hit, than a COC or a PU.

Don't agree with this at all.  His FB% is basically the same as last season.  He hits the ball harder.  He's replaced a few LDs for GB.  He K's a bit more, but walks a lot more.  The biggest difference is that his balls in play aren't resulting in hits, as evidenced by his .240 BABIP and his relatively low shift percentage.

 

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4 hours ago, El Gordo said:

I think you can definitelly see it with Manny and since Yonder is his brother inlaw maybe that's why. But it's a bad stategy IMO. A hard hit GB has a better chance of being a hit, than a COC or a PU.

A ground ball is a single if it's a hit.  A fly ball is a home run. 

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1 hour ago, Hallas said:

Don't agree with this at all.  His FB% is basically the same as last season.  He hits the ball harder.  He's replaced a few LDs for GB.  He K's a bit more, but walks a lot more.  The biggest difference is that his balls in play aren't resulting in hits, as evidenced by his .240 BABIP and his relatively low shift percentage.

 

What's his IFF % and how many COC FB is he hitting?

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55 minutes ago, ArtVanDelay said:

A ground ball is a single if it's a hit.  A fly ball is a home run. 

A higher % of GB become hits than FB become HR. Mancini doesn't do the uppercut thing he goes with the pitch and hit's LD. How's that working for him?

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3 hours ago, ArtVanDelay said:

A ground ball is a single if it's a hit.  A fly ball is a home run. 

Seriously?  What about line drive singles and gap doubles?  Not to mention the occasional blooper.

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9 hours ago, Spy Fox said:

Pretty good point about the infield defense. I'm going to guess the "air ball revolution" has hurt us more than most, but for a more general reason-- everyone else started getting better at something we were already good at, and it happened to be something that enabled opponents to further exploit our already shaky pitching staff. 

That's kinda what everyone laughs at Dempsey saying we're the best D in the league. A couple years ago we were the best. And I don't really think we're much worse now. Still very good. It's just that there are MANY teams with good IF D now. Many.

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I highly encourage a read of Chris Perpetua' s series about launch angles and the "revolution."  Its highly informative on the matter and good read for stat heads and general fans.

http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/misconceptions-about-launch-angle/

It should clear up some general misconceptions in this thread about the importance of increasing launch angles and the perceived increase in outcomes that occurs.

Does it work for some players? Yes.  Are they the players we hear most about (i.e. alonso)?  Yes.  Has it worked for everybody and is there a general trend towards it among all hitters?  Certainly not.

The increase in Home Runs in the league has a lot more to do with bad pitching than a launch angle revolution.

 

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12 hours ago, scOtt said:

That's kinda what everyone laughs at Dempsey saying we're the best D in the league. A couple years ago we were the best. And I don't really think we're much worse now. Still very good. It's just that there are MANY teams with good IF D now. Many.

Our infield defense is not nearly as good as it used to be.    And we used to have a pretty good outfield defense, but they're now below average.    

Manny and Schoop are bigger and slower than they used to be.     Manny's still a gold glove level 3B, but he doesn't have the range or reaction time he had in 2012-14.   Schoop's gone from above average to below average.    Hardy's gone from gold glove caliber to slightly above average.    I do think Chris Davis is probably a better defensive 1B now than he was in 2012-14.

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3 hours ago, Camden_yardbird said:

I highly encourage a read of Chris Perpetua' s series about launch angles and the "revolution."  Its highly informative on the matter and good read for stat heads and general fans.

http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/misconceptions-about-launch-angle/

It should clear up some general misconceptions in this thread about the importance of increasing launch angles and the perceived increase in outcomes that occurs.

Does it work for some players? Yes.  Are they the players we hear most about (i.e. alonso)?  Yes.  Has it worked for everybody and is there a general trend towards it among all hitters?  Certainly not.

The increase in Home Runs in the league has a lot more to do with bad pitching than a launch angle revolution.

 

Don't forget the balls.

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17 hours ago, CheeryO said:

Seriously?  What about line drive singles and gap doubles?  Not to mention the occasional blooper.

Who said anything about line drives?

A line drive isn't a ground ball or a fly ball. 

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