The 2005 Batted Ball Library Index

At the Hardball Times, we purchased data from Baseball Info Solutions (now Sports Info Solutions). My favorite type of data was batted ball type, a pretty new thing at the time. All batted balls were classified into different buckets such as groundballs, flyballs and line drives, and this gave us a lot of fantastic data to play with. You can read some of our initial batted ball analysis in these PDF files:

On this part of Baseball Graphs, you will my first attempt to quantify the impact and outcome of batted balls for individual players and teams. Inside these pages, you'll find out how many times each batter struck out or walked, hit outfield flies, line drives and groundballs, and even how many "net runs" he created with each outfield fly, line drive and groundball. You'll see the same thing for pitchers, too. And you'll see four year's worth of data for everyone.

Nowadays, we discuss launch angles and exit velocities and our understanding of batted balls is much deeper. But I like to think that the analysis you see here was an important step along the way.

To view the Library tables, pick a team on the right, or search for team pages with a specific player in the following search box. The table layouts are explained further below.

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American League

National League

How to Read These Tables

These stats tables are unique, and they take a bit of getting used to. Here's a brief tutorial to help you get the most out of them. Take a look at the batted ball table for the St. Louis Cardinals below. The first place to look is on the lower right-hand side of the table, where it says that the Cardinals scored 76.6 more runs per season than average (otherwise known as "net runs"), or 0.5 a game.

St. Louis Cardinals

Net Runs per Ball % of Batted Balls %/OF %/PA Total Net Runs
2002 6246 0.02 0.35 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 12% 15% 10% 30.8 331.5 -193.7 -44.7 -78.6 35.3 0.2
2003 6466 0.05 0.37 -0.12 31% 23% 42% 12% 15% 10% 74.3 403.3 -227.7 -50.1 -72.1 112.1 0.7
2004 6297 0.10 0.36 -0.08 33% 20% 43% 13% 17% 10% 145.6 319.9 -164.2 -41.6 -127.6 117.0 0.7
2005 6246 0.07 0.31 -0.09 29% 21% 46% 12% 15% 10% 91.9 298.9 -194.8 -41.8 -88.4 45.1 0.3
Avg. 6314 0.06 0.35 -0.10 31% 21% 44% 12% 15% 10% 85.1 338.0 -195.3 -44.5 -91.1 76.6 0.5
Vs. MLB 0.03 -0.01 0.00 0% 0% 0% 1% -1% 0% 36.3 3.1 3.6 2.1 25.3

Reading the Tables (cont.)

Once you've found the total number of net runs your team/player scored, go up those columns to see how they performed each of the past four years. The Cardinals, for instance, scored 0.7 net runs per game in 2003 and 2004. That means they scored 0.7 runs more per game than the average major league team.

Next, move your eyes to the left, along the bottom row labeled Vs. MLB. This line shows how each player/team performed in each category vs. the major league average. For instance, the first number to the left on the Cardinals' table, 25.3, is the number of net runs above average the Cardinals scored on balls "Not In Play" (NIP). These are strikeouts, walks and HBP.

Compared to the MLB average, the Cardinals scored 2.1 more net runs on infield flies (IF), 3.6 more net runs on ground balls (GB), 3.1 on line drives (LD) and 36.3 on outfield flies (OF). If you move up each column, you can see how the Cards did in each year on a total net run basis. Overall, the keys to their offense have been controlling the plate (NIP) and outfield flies.

The rest of the table splits total net runs into their components. For instance, the Cards were right about average in walks per plate apperance 0% and -1% in strikeouts per plate appearance. They struck out less than average, which is why they performed so well with NIP net runs.

Moving to the left on the bottom row, you can see that the Cardinals hit 1% more home runs per outfield fly, which is a key reason why they were above average in net runs per outfield fly. By the way, percentages on the "Vs. MLB" line refer to differences in "points," not pure percentages. In other words, the Cardinals' HR/OF percentage (12%) was one "point" higher than the MLB average (11%).

The next section to the left shows how often the Cardinals hit each type of batted ball, compared to MLB averages. There won't be big differences between teams and the MLB average, but there will be big differences between individual players and the MLB average.

The section on the far left is a key section, showing how many net runs the Cardinals created for each type of batted ball hit. For instance, they created 0.03 more runs than average for every outfield fly. Obviously, this was primarily driven by their home run percentage. Moving up the table, you can see that they did extremely well with their outfield flies in 2004, when they created 0.10 net runs per outfield fly. As you can tell by comparing the two bottommost rows, the MLB average was 0.03, so they were 0.07 net runs above average in 2004.

Organization and Notes

  • Net Runs can be defined as the number of runs "created" by a plate appearance (increased run potential by a hit, or decreased run potential by an out), compared to the average plate appearance. So if you add up all the net runs of all plate appearances, you'll get zero net runs (or close to) because all net runs added together equals average. The key thing to remember is that "zero" is the average of net runs.
  • The tables are exactly the same for batters and pitchers. You want to look for positive net runs when evaluating batters, and negative net runs when evaluating pitchers.
  • These numbers are partially park-adjusted. The "Net Runs Per Ball" figures are adjusted for ballpark, as is the Home Run per Outfield fly figure. However, ballparks also affect other things, such as how often flies and line drives are hit, or how often batters strike out. Those types of adjustments are not included in these tables.
  • I've listed all batters and pitchers who accrued at least 100 plate appearances (or faced 100 batters) for each team. I may have missed some. If a player played for more than one team in 2005, he may be listed with both teams. The data is grouped by year and not separated by team within a year.
  • In most cases, the "average" line includes all years shown. In some cases, however, the player may have missed a year in the middle of the last four years. For instance, Aaron Boone missed the 2004 season due to a basketball injury. In those cases, "average" includes only the most recent year(s).
  • The numbers won't all "foot" exactly. I combined several different data sources, and applied average linear weights from 2002-2004 to 2005 as well. This throws off the "bottom line" a bit. However, they're close enough for government work, and then some.
  • Also, please note that there are some inconsistencies in the batted ball categorization from year to year. In particular, total line drives in the data set dropped quite a bit in 2004. We're sure that this is an inconsistency in how the data was collected, not in actual batted balls, so be sure to interpret year-to-year batted ball results carefully.
  • These concepts are explained thoroughly in the Hardball Times Annual 2006. The data was supplied by Baseball Info Solutions.