Monday, May 03, 2010

Interesting Baseball Question

Why does batting average go down by number of outs in an inning? In 2009, MLB batting average by out was:

.271 - No Outs
.267 - 1 Out
.248 - 2 Outs

I thought maybe it was a fluke, but in 2008 the splits were:

.275 - No Outs
.267 - 1 out
.249 - 2 Outs

and 2007:

.276 - No Outs
.273 - 1 out
.254 - 2 Outs

I really have no idea why hitters do so much worse with two outs. Concentration comes to mind, but wouldn't that play equally to pitcher and hitters?

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3 Comments:

At May 03, 2010 2:22 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

There are a lot more variables at play here. If you assume no one is on base, you play each position differently depending on the outs (i.e. you play center field more aggressively with two outs, a few steps in. Short Stop plays a few steps deeper). With runners on though, all that changes. It be more interesting to see a breakdown with runners on by out. Runners on first with 0, 1, and 2 outs, etc. My guess is the worst batting average is with 2 outs and bases loaded.

 
At May 03, 2010 3:06 PM, Blogger Andrew Fife said...

Ryan,
thanks for the comment and good ideas. It seems logical that the probability of having runners on base would go up with the number of outs because, on average, there will have been more plate appearances with each out. This could definitely be a part of the answer, though I wish I had a better understand of why.

The stats you are looking for partially exist here:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=b&year=2009&lg=MLB#bases

and here:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=b&year=2009&lg=MLB#clutc

While batting average with 2 outs and bases loaded isn't available, 2 out RISP is and you are right, its lower at .241. On the other hand, batting average (regardless of out) is .267 with men on base vs. .259 without.

If its playing more aggressive defense, the stats seem to indicate that teams should play 2 out alignments in more situations. The fact that baseball managers don't do this could mean that aggressive defense isn't the reason for lower batting average or it could mean that managers haven't figured it out yet. I could believe either.

Anyway, thanks again for the interesting ideas.

-Andrew

 
At September 20, 2010 3:12 PM, Anonymous Brett said...

Another reason could be the strategy to walk a better hitter with men on base and a base open, especially when the pitcher is on deck. Eight hole hitters get walked all the time so a pitcher can easily get out of a jam by facing the other teams pitcher. Also, there is a reason Barry Bonds always led the league in walks, he was the best hitter. Same is true these days for guys like Pujols.

The other main reason I would think is the tendency for a pitcher to "bear down" at the end of innings and batters to "give up" at bats towards the end of innings.

 

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