Often players will be credited for being very efficient with their swings, or evaluators and coaches will praise a hitter for having tremendous bat speed. Those who work with hitters and study the art of hitting on a regular basis know that it takes a lot more than being a good athlete or having fast hands to be a successful hitter. I myself work with many amateur hitters at Carmen Fusco’s Pro Baseball & Softball Academy in New Cumberland, PA. We use video analysis as an integral part of the learning process, and I spend many hours outside of work devoted to breaking down MLB, MiLB, and draft-eligible players’ swings and pitching deliveries. In this study I have conducted, I wanted to collect data regarding the best Major League hitters’ swings to discern what actually matters and is worth commenting on from a mechanical perspective of a hitter.
Going into this project, I wanted it to be primarily a data-driven approach to what players do in the batter’s box. This is a study of hitters’ mechanics at the Major League level, hopefully useful in producing predictive or at least somewhat comparative parameters to be applied to unproven professional or amateur players. Many criticisms and compliments get heaped on hitters for how their swings work and the correlation to big league success. However, I have not seen many of these thoughts backed up with hard evidence as proof or even fact-based suggestions that they are truly instrumental to a player’s results on the field. I will mix in many of my own thoughts here and there as well, but this is meant to be used as an objective analysis of hitters’ mechanical processes.
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Every year the least competitive MLB teams decide whether they will commit to “going for it” the next season, or take a step back and wait for some of their cost-controlled young players to develop into big league contributors, then invest money in the team at that time a year or two down the road. If the situation is dire, the media and baseball executives alike will start kicking the tires on an organization needing an all-out rebuild. In this case, teams trade away every expensive, though often productive, veteran for young prospects that can hopefully help form a more competitive and sustainable team in a few years in part due to a higher production to salary ratio. A judgment is made that investing money into the major league portion of the organization will not yield worthwhile results in the upcoming seasons, leading to declining attendance and television ratings. That money would be better spent on the draft and developing the players acquired through trades of the more expensive players on the team. These often publicly announced plans usually have estimated times to completion ranging from 3-5 years, often coinciding with a new baseball executive’s contract length within a year or two. I set out to measure the results of this strategy as it applies to total revenue, as well as how it works out in terms of return on investment.