Too Many Grounders, DLee

Some interesting numbers showing the percentage of ground balls, line drives, and fly balls by some Cubs hitters:

Lee 45 21 34
Ramirez 31 20 48
Soriano 29 23 48
Soto 38 21 41
Fontenot 38 24 38
Theriot 57 23 20
Fukudome 51 19 30

This helps explain why Derrek Lee hits into so many more double plays, and hits so many fewer home runs, than he did a few years ago.  Maybe I’m imagining this, but he seems to have developed a pronounced upper cut in his swing, which can result in strike outs and grounders when your hands aren’t quick enough to adjust to the flight of the ball, especially on breaking stuff.  Could be wrong; I haven’t studied tape or anything.  Just an observation from watching him play.  I still don’t think he has been the same hitter since he broke his wrist in ’06.

Note that Mike Fontenot has the highest percentage of line drives, followed closely by both Theriot and Soriano.  I’ve always been pretty impressed by Fontenot as a hitter, and this year he should get many more ABs than before, so we’ll see what he can do with them.

Found at Chicago’s Inside Pitch blog at the Daily Herald.  The same post has a discussion referencing this article at Hardball Times about BABIP.  This stat bugs me.  The theory is that you can quantify how “lucky” a hitter is given a set of hitting stats.

Well, over the long term, and by its very definition, “luck” would even out for every hitter relative to every other hitter.  And if it doesn’t, then again by definition, it isn’t luck, it’s something else.  Skill, maybe?  Deciding which pitches to take and which to swing at makes it easier to be “lucky”.

And even in the short term, attributing to “luck” anything we can’t nail down with an exact number seems a bit … I don’t know.  Ambitious?  Omnisicient?

I guess I’m just not that comfortable with drawing a heavy line between “luck” and “skill” purely from looking at numbers.


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