Summarizing My Findings on Launch Angle

Over the last year I made a series of studies on Statcast and I thought it would be interesting to write a little overview article to summarize my findings.

In June I looked at the launch angle profile of the league. The average went up of course, but it accelerated faster at the top than at the bottom, so we have not reached a stage of consolidation yet where the league is moving closer together in launch angle, which ultimately should be expected (the LA is increasing at the bottom but less than at the top.

That means there still is room for more growth in elevating but mostly in the bottom half of launch angle.

In the above I found that there are limits to elevating. I found the top guys usually average 11-16 degrees of launch angle. Below that players definitely can benefit from elevating more.

Then I was looking at the cost of too much elevation. A common theory is that swinging up more leads to more Ks because you are not really matching the plane of the pitch. I found a small effect there but nothing really big.

However I did find that there is a BABIP cost, especially if it comes with pulling the ball, and confirmed that with more research and found out that elevating more without a BABIP cost is possible if you get off the ground while limiting pop-ups and high outfield FBs above 30 degrees like Daniel Murphy does very well, while the 50+% FB guys with 20+ degrees of average LA tend to have low BABIPs, especially when coupled with pulling a lot to sell out for power.

I also looked at the relationship of EV and LA and unsurprisingly found out that between like 8 and 20 degrees, exit velo doesn’t matter much, while above 20 degrees almost all production comes from homers. Balls above 20 degrees and below 95 MPH are basically worthless so you need a certain minimum power to make elevation work. Off the ground is always good, but for some it might make sense to stay between 5 and 20 degrees.

Not quite related to that topic, I also created a formula for the relationship between power, patience, and K rate. An old argument between sabermetric and traditional writers was whether Ks matter. We know that Ks are not worse than other outs and high-K hitters do not perform worse, but that is also because there is a selection bias against high-K, low-power guys. Everything being equal, low Ks is better, and I found a pretty linear relationship between K, BB, and ISO.

If production is equal, Ks obviously don’t matter, of course.

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