Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Going the Other Way

My latest FanGraphs Community post is here. It's called "Going the Other Way," and it's about players who have gone from pulling the ball to hitting to the opposite field. I got interested in the topic when I wrote about Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison earlier this month. I noticed that, at the time, he'd changed from pulling the ball (i.e., hitting to left field) the ninth most frequently in the National League in 2014 to the the 12th least frequently in 2015. (He's currently pulling the 21st least frequently out of 77 this year.)

You hear a lot that with defensive shifts stacking infielders on one side of the diamond or the other for extreme pull hitters, batters would benefit from hitting more to the opposite field. So I looked at the players who've most dramatically changed from pulling to going the opposite way this year (Harrison's ninth on the list) and, for good measure, those who have gone to pulling more. Does it make a difference? My conclusion: 
[T]he data indicate that changing one’s approach–going from pulling to hitting to the opposite field, or, for that matter, vice-versa–does not appear to have a systemic change in batting outcomes. It works for some players. It doesn’t work for others. 

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