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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Were Dunn's HR-rates depressed in 2006?

Very interesting post today by Greg Rybarczyk, also the operator of HitTracker.com, at The Hardball Times about home runs. Here's an excerpt (JE = a "Just Enough" home run barely clearing the wall, PL = a "Plenty" home run [essential "normal"], and ND = a "No Doubt" home run):
When we examine the 2006 season data (which is available here), we find that the MLB average breakout of home runs by type was 27% JE, 55% PL and 18% ND. For hitters with above average power, the ratio shifts to 25%/55%/20%, and for the elite sluggers, the ratio becomes 23%/54%/23%, as “No Doubt” homers make up a larger fraction of their output.
He then goes on to look at which players deviated from those ratios. Three Reds players came up as being rather low last year in terms of their Just Enough home run output, indicating that they may have "unluckily" missed out on a fair number of not-quite-enough homers: Adam Dunn (5%/55%/40), Edwin Encarnacion (7%/67%/27%), and Dave Ross (10%/62%/29%).

I've written before about Adam Dunn's apparent bad luck last year, and this might give us some clue as to what specifically may have gone wrong. I'm excited to see Encarnacion on that list, as I think he's poised to have a great season. Ross is also intriguing--I'm almost certain that he'll decline a bit this year, but these data indicate that it's possible that he may have had more power last year than he showed--and what he showed was already ridiculous.

Other News

  • Yesterday, this blog received the most hits it ever in one day by a considerable margin. This was due to be continued incoming traffic from David Pinto and TangoTiger's kind links to my zone rating article, as well as numerous bloggers who linked to my reflections on opening day as they recapping coverage of that game. Thanks to everyone who came by, and I want to especially thank those who linked to me. It is always very much appreciated.
  • Curt Schilling has a blog. It actually makes for a pretty good read now and then. For example, after his most recent pummeling by Kansas City, he posted a very interesting recap of what it was like to struggle like that on the mound. It's really cool to get a glimpse into the thought processes of a major league pitcher:
    Grud worked the count to 3-1, laying off the first change at 1-1, and a FB down and away ended up middle in for a hard single to left. Had Teahan down quick and left a split up for another single 1-2 (I think). First pitch slider to Sweeney didn’t slide, bad miss. Next slider was better and he stayed on it and hit it hard to right to load the bases. Gordon worked a 7 pitch AB, and chased a good split down for out #2. A lengthy AB from Shealy, saw me go to the split 3-2 which he took for ball 4 to walk in a run. I can’t remember if I ever done that? Made a lot of mistakes inside this one AB and it ended up costing us.Overthrowing some balls when I had a chance to end the AB earlier and missing spots too badly to even get him to offer.
    • It's easy to get frustrated with pitchers now and then when they're struggling on the mound, but what I love about this post is that it shows how aware they are of what's happening--and how frustrated they can get too.
  • I wanted to applaud the Cincinnati Reds for trying to make Opening Day "Green" by purchasing carbon offsets. Of course, what would have been really amazing is if they purchased enough offsets to account for the 42,000+ fans that drove down to the ballpark for the game. But it's still impressive and a great symbolic demonstration of what we need to do with our planet moving forward.
  • Looks like both DirectTV and the cable companies will allow be showing MLB Extra Innings this year. I have to say, on first blush, this looks like an amazing bit of negotiating by MLB. I don't subscribe to Extra Innings myself, but making these games available to more people is always a great thing for the sport.
Photo credit: AP/Al Behrman, on 4/2/07

4 comments:

  1. Although Dunn had few JEs, his HR distances benefitted from favorable weather according to "The Last Word" in THT's season preview. Those temperature and wind conditions gave him an average of 6 extra feet per HR. So some of those PLs would've been JEs in neutral conditions, though it's hard to say how many without more info.

    Dunn actualy led the majors in total HR distance gained from weather (Kearns was second), though Gassko rightly points out that Dunn's HR total wasn't inflated by the weather because most of his HRs easily cleared. Kearns, on the other hand, probably had a few extras thanks to the weather. The Preview was a good read - you should check it out sometime. ;)

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  2. Ah, good points, I had forgotten about that essay--interesting stuff.

    By that logic, though, I wonder if you could also say that there should still have been a population of JE's that would normally have been outs. Dunn hits a lot of high, fairly deep fly balls, just due to his strength. Wouldn't the JE/out's be affected as much as the PL/JE's? :)

    I'm going to be doing a lot more with the hitracker website in future posts. It's an incredible resource, and should be a lot of fun to play with. I've got plans and plans and plans... just wish I had more time! -j

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  3. True, though as you point out Dunn had far fewer JEs (proportionately) than most, so his HR total won't be affected as much by weather as someone like Kearns. It'd be interesting to see a "weather adjusted" HR total, but I don't think that's feasible yet because Hit Tracker (very cool, by the way) doesn't tell you which HRs wouldn't have cleared the fences under neutral conditions. Plus you don't know how many deep fly outs were hampered by the weather. But if you look at Dunn's HRs last year, it looks like at least two wouldn't have made it under neutral conditions (8/20 vs. PIT and the second one on 4/20 vs CHI). I wonder how many times he was "robbed" by the weather on a deep fly.

    I'm a little skeptical about the wind adjustments in Hit Tracker. It uses one wind speed and direction for an entire game, which isn't realistic for many games.

    It's good timing that we're discussing this now, given how many HRs are being turned into singles or outs because of the cold. Dunn's single in the second game against the Cubs probably would've cleared the wall in July. Griffey had a single today that would've done the same. Hopefully their luck will change in AZ - hope you get to see some of the games.

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  4. Good point about wind speed & direction on hittracker. I think that the wind speed adjustments fall into the category of "it's better than nothing, but could be better."

    I'm hoping that Rybarczyk continues to improve hit tracker's reporting to give us more information...but even as it is, the info it provides (e.g. speed off bat) is something we can't find anywhere else. I can't wait to dig around in those data a bit. Just a few projects to finish before I have at it, but it'll at least be a cornerstone of an article or two on Great American Ballpark.

    I'm planning to attend the Wednesday game in person, and I'm pretty stoked about that, even if it is "just" Belisle. The other two will be TV-watching games. :)

    -j
    p.s. I can't help but note that Dunn's Saturday homer certainly gives him a +1 in the JE category this year. :)

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