Hardball Times (via. Baseball Info Solutions) keeps track of all data for balls in play, beginning in 2004. Here's THT's data for the 2008 Cleveland Indians. What struck me when I was perusing their site yesterday, was that the Indians' hitters were popping up an inordinate amount of the time. Almost everyone's IF/F (infield fly per fly ball) numbers were a couple of factors larger than they should be. Unsurprisingly, fewer fly balls (HR/F) are reaching the bleachers. However, players' line drive rates and ground ball rates aren't out of whack in similar proportions.
Some questions (which I'm not smart enough to answer).....
1) Is the disparity between early season IF/F and HR/F rates and previous full season rates, simply a matter of players not having their timing down?
2) Is there anything Shelton can/should be doing to help the players get in rhythm quicker?
Observations from the data below.....
(As limited as the data is, it does have value because it is telling us what kind of contact players are making thus far. But yes, these numbers have zero predictive value)
1) Aside from suffering from pop up-itis, like everyone else, Hafner's LD%, HR/F and GB% are inching away from his 2007 rates to their 2005 levels. Once he stops popping up, will Hafners HR/F rate increase to 2005-2006 levels? I'm praying so.
2) Whatever Victor isn't popping up, he's killing with line drives (36%). His LD% explains his high BA/BIP numbers.
3) Jhonny's poor line drive rate (6.7%) explains why he's having a tough time buying a hit. Other numbers (GB%, HR/F, IF/F) are in the ballpark of good 'ol Jhonny.
4) With a 0.194 BA/BIP, you could argue that God simply hates Blake. But he's hitting fewer line drives and hitting a hell of a lot more grounders. With Blake's luck, his luck probably won't turn around (a permeating syllogism, no?).
5) It hard to say too much about Dellucci's power numbers since his power (HR/F) has declined each year. While he was injured in 2007, he's hitting with the same power that he did in that year. Is it reasonable to expect more of his fly balls to start going out? Who knows? But since his other numbers (LD%, IF/F, BA/BIP) are within his 2005-2007 range, Dellucci's probably showing us all the power he has left in his bat.
6) Once Grady inverts his IF/F and HR/F numbers, which he will, we'll have the Grady we all know and love back.
* - N'Sync means a player's numbers, in a given category, are within two standard deviations of his three year average.
* - Numbers highlighted in blue mean a player's numbers, in said category, are 'colder' than his previous average. (ex: A lower HR/F is 'colder', while a higher number is 'hotter')
* - The concept of 'cold' or 'hot' doesn't really make intuitive sense with respect to GB rates. So, all out of sync GB numbers are in blue.