Baseball Miscellany

There are a lot of interesting nuggets in the data but it’s very clear that bad speed and swing length alone aren’t informative about how good a hitter is. There are excellent hitters among the slowest bats (Luis Arraez, Jose Altuve, Isaac Paredes) and some weak hitters among the fastest. And of course bat speed is one of those things that’s always been reasonably subject to the eye test. But it still seems like a potential goldmine to be able to pair the bat data with other metrics.

By the way—Jose Abreu’s bat speed is about league average.

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Does that data make any attempt to quantify reaction time, pitch recognition time (I have no idea how you’d do that), etc? If his bat speed is average but he starts late, he’s doomed.


Would his bat speed be different if he were taller? (I mean that seriously)

Nope, just pure bat speed. And there’s no data for 2023 and earlier for comparison.

Do you mean Altuve? Probably. But the interesting thing in the data is how much he seems to vary his bat speed by situation. His average is low (he keeps his swing short more often than most) but when he sees a pitch he likes, he’ll swing out of his shoes and get the barrel going a lot faster.


Altuve’s ability to change his swing situationally, is what makes him an elite hitter. It also makes him look terrible when he is fooled by a pitch.


I was thinking about that. There must be a way to measure from the moment the ball leave’s the pitcher’s hand to the moment the bat starts moving.

It’s gotta be really hard to disentangle reaction time from the rest of a player’s swing mechanics. Is he trying to make contact out front, or does he want to let the ball travel? Is his timing just off? I think the most informative way to look at it would be in comparison to previous seasons, or as a rolling average of his last ~250 PA or something, but it’s all very tricky.

Most helpful in better appreciating and understanding the game.
Thanks, Guys!

Should also note that varying bat speed is more a function of varying swing length than varying the bat speed for its own sake. Probably clear already but just wanted to say it.

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Pardon me for mixing sports, but I think a Wooden quote applies to bat speed: Be quick but don’t hurry. His thinking was quick was in control but hurried was rushed.

Now a question: Commentators often talk about a player’s bat being in the zone a long time. Does that have anything to do with swing speed or just swing path?

Path more than speed


So both are elements but path has greater weight?

Yeah to certain degree, as far as I understand it. A slower swing speed keeps you in the zone longer and have better bat control, thus swing and miss less. Staying in the zone longer isn’t going to help you hit homers but it will help you make more contact.

But the swing path is a major part, Kyle Tucker has a swing path that keeps him in the zone longer but the longer the path, the faster you need to swing to keep up. It’s all just push and pull to find the right balance for that player.

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I’m excited for Savant to unveil their bat path tracking stats later this season. Given how much the conventional wisdom has changed in the past 10-15 years re: swing plane, it’ll be great to see the kind of data that drove players and teams to change their approach.

Every bit of this post is fascinating, including the brief nugget that Jose Abreu’s swing length varied a lot this year (the most in baseball). Maybe that’s just because he’s always varied his approach situationally—or I guess it could be a sign of pressing.

Plus commentators may say “in the zone a long time” when they really mean “the bat travels thru a large portion of the zone”.

A bunt can be in the zone a long time.
A severe uppercut may not.

Just noticed that Elly De La Cruz is on pace for about 100 SB and 200 K

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I don’t think anyone else has come close to doing that.

ETA: Vince Coleman had 109 and 126 in '87.


Those mid-80’s St Louis teams were nuts.

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That’s one of the reasons the Astros hired Hal Lanier who previously was the Cardinals third base coach.

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