May 14, 2021

A Dubious Distinction for Yuli Gurriel (FanGraphs)

The worst thing you can do when you put a ball in play is hit a popup. That’s the worst thing usually, at least: right now, the worst thing you can do is be playing baseball at all, because you plus the opposing team makes 10 people, you jerk. But most times, it’s hitting a popup.

You’ve seen the reasoning for this before, but I’ll quickly lay it out again. When you hit a popup, you don’t reach base. Per Baseball Savant, balls hit with a launch angle of 50 degrees or higher produced a wOBA of .016 in 2019. Given that an out is worth 0 and league-average wOBA is .324, that’s pretty close to being an automatic out. Want it in a triple slash line? If you hit the ball at a 50 degree angle or higher, you bat .015/.015/.022. That’s ugly.

There’s good news, however. Want to avoid popping up and slamming your bat to the ground in disgust? There’s a simple solution: avoid swinging at high pitches. I’m no physicist, but the relationship between high pitches and popups seems straightforward. Your bat is likely to contact the ball from below, there’s some angle-of-incidence angle-of-reflection magic, and bam, Eric Hosmer is camping under the ball. Either that or…

Read “A Dubious Distinction for Yuli Gurriel” at FanGraphs