The Batted-Ball Project & Flowchart Profiler: Preliminaries

768px-Kendrys_Morales_on_August_4,_2013

I’ve spent a lot of time on this because I wanted it to be something that was both accessible and actually worked.  Let’s hope so.

The Batted Ball Project is first.  Then we build on that to create the Flowchart Profiler.

***

Here’s my Opening Statement:

1. Over the years, I have not hung around at the baseball stat-oriented sites because I tend to find them dogmatic and insular.  Maybe it’s just me.

2.  In other words … I went into this project without knowing if there’s a “conventional wisdom” or not.

3. Since then, I have been through the archives of Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and Hardball Times to see if I was just reinventing the wheel.  The closest thing I discovered was a formula called PrOPS, which aimed to predict OPS by using some of the same elements that I will use in the Flowchart Profiler.  It appears that it has not been calculated since 2010, so I guess it was not super-popular.

4. It’s been a loooooong time since I took an advanced statistics class, and I have no interest in doing a blog that resembles one.  I’ve already been told that I’m too technical sometimes.  (Yes, guilty! — but I also have tables with color coding!)  Plus, I wouldn’t be any good at it anyway.  I’m not really interested in stats as such — only as a means to understand.

So those of you who lose interest once words like “coefficient” are tossed out and Greek symbols are used, don’t worry.  We’ll keep things as simple as we can, and there will be pictures.  Deal?  Deal.

5. As you’ll see, this was a very large project.  I’m trying to keep it in bite-size chunks.

6.  I did, initially, break out the steroid era and look at it separately.  The results weren’t different enough to compel me to exclude that data.  In other words, I will use the entire period in which batted-ball stats are available (2002-today).  But one thing was clear: fly balls were more valuable in the steroid era.  Not just leading to more homers, but also more hits in general than in the non-steroid era.  Ground balls and line drives were the same, but fly balls were more valuable.  Makes sense.

Just as a stray observation, also consider: 2014 is the first time AL Comeback Player of the Year Chris Young has been fully healthy in the post-steroid era.  Fly balls hurt less now, making extreme fly-ball pitcher Young a better option.

OK, let’s get at it then.

Here’s the beginning.

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