New Statcast leaderboard hits a grand slam

The latest feature added to Baseball Savant focuses on one of baseball’s most exciting plays: the home run. However, its creator, Daren Willman, tweeted, “Not all home runs are created equal.”

The leaderboard’s startup screen shows all those batters in 2020 who hit at least one long ball that would have been a home run in at least one of Major League Baseball’s 30 ballparks.

On August 9, before any of the day’s games have been played, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is Major League Baseball’s home run leader with eight. In the Home Runs Leaderboard, if you click anywhere on a player’s row except on his name, details on all his homers in the season you choose will appear, each homer listed on a separate row.

Click on Judge’s row. Below his name should beS a table showing those ballparks where each long ball that Judge hit on the given date will be a homer. For example, on August 8 in Tampa Bay, the first long ball that Judge hit (against Sean Gilmartin) would have been a four-bagger in every ballpark, but the second long ball he hit (against Nick Anderson) would have been a homer in only 18 parks — video.

Therefore, for a long ball to qualify for (be included in) the Home Runs Leaderboard it must have been able to be a home run in at least one MLB stadium even if it was not a homer in the ballpark in which it was hit. Those batted balls are labelled as “Doubters,” “Mostly Gone,” or “No Doubters.”

  • If a batted ball would be a homer in fewer than 8 ballparks, it is a “doubter.”
  • If it would be a homer in 8 to 29 parks, it is “mostly gone.”
  • If would be a home run in every stadium, it is a “no doubter.”

That is why if you sum those three columns (“Doubters,” “Mostly Gone,” “No Doubters”) the total could be less than what is in the “Actual HR” column, which is the total number of homers the player hit, as occurs with Fernando Tatis Jr.’s numbers. He had six actual homers, but one “doubter,” three “mostly gone,” and six “no doubters.”

Finally, home run data is available for batters, pitchers, and teams for both 2019 and 2020.

Here is a sample of the kinds of questions that Savant’s Home Runs Leaderboard can answer.

Which player’s has the most “could-be” homers that could only be a home run in one stadium?

Which Mets’ player has hit the most actual and “almost” homers so far in 2020? Notice that one of Davis’ “homers” was a non-homer. I label that one a “Could Be” homer.

Who has hit the most “no doubt” home runs this season?

In 2020, which pitcher have given up the most “no doubters?”

The Home Runs Leaderboard is a great resource with eye-catching visuals for statistically-minded baseball fans. One thing that could make it even better is if you could get team data by both division and league. For example, now if I select “Mets” and “Pitchers,” I only get the results for the qualifying Mets pitchers.

Statcast Searches: Four Core Components

This post shows how to use Statcast Search to do these investigations:

1. Find pitching data for all the pitchers in a league (National or American or both) in a year (limited by Statcast Search’s years of data)

2. Get the number of pitches each league pitcher threw to another pitcher in the same league.

3. Find how many pitches a specific pitcher threw to other pitchers.

4. Discover how many pitches a pitcher threw to every batter regardless of position.

When conducting a Statcast Search, four components are especially useful. One is Player Type. It contains 10 items: Pitcher, Batter, Catcher, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, SS, LF, CF, RF. The default value in Player Type is “Pitcher.”

The other three core items are Position, Batters, and Pitchers.

If you want to find pitching data for all the pitchers in the National League in 2019, use these four settings:

– Player Type: Pitcher
– Team: NL
– Season: 2019
– Season Type: Regular Season

If you search using those values, you will get data for 426 NL pitchers, starting with Stephen Strasburg, who threw the most pitches: 3,384.

The search results include these columns sorted by Pitches from a pitcher’s perspective: Pitches, Total, Pitch %, AB, Hits, BB, BA, SLG, EV(MPH),LA(°), Dist (ft). Pitches is the number of pitches thrown by the pitcher during all his mound appearances.

If instead of finding pitching data for all the pitchers in the National League in 2019, you want the number of pitches each NL pitcher threw to another pitcher you need to change the Position setting (second column) from the default of any position to “P” (Pitcher).

That reduces the number of results from 3,384 to 300. Those results show the number of pitches each NL pitcher threw to another pitcher. What is not immediately obvious is whether all the other pitchers were also in the National League though that appears to be the case. It is true.

Jacob deGrom heads the list. In 2019, with only pitchers in the batters box, he threw 220 pitches, holding those hitters to a .120 batting average.

Let’s make another setting change. This time in the Pitchers box (third column), Stephen Strasburg will be selected. (Position still is “P.”) Those results show how many pitches Strasburg threw to other pitchers: 208. By clicking his name, a pitch breakdown appears.

If Position is not set to a position, the results show how many pitches Strasburg threw to every batter regardless of position (3,384) and gives a pitch-by-pitch breakdown.

But what if in the Batters box (third column), Stephen Strasburg was entered with nothing selected in Position? Then, the results show his hitting data for the 38 NL pitchers that he hit against. He was in the batters box against Sandy Alcantara for 22 pitches, the most, including one eight pitch at-bat that ended in a groundout. Strasburg has the most success at the plate against Braves pitcher, Touki Toussaint, getting a single and a homer in his two at-bat against Toussaint. Toussaint also was the only pitcher Strasburg got more than one hit against. The homer was both his only homer in 2019 and only the fourth in his 10-year career. Note: Setting the Position to “P” does not make any difference.

And if there is a “P” in Position? The results are the same.

Statcast Detective: Throw ’em high

In my first post on high-ball pitchers, I presented the top 10 high-ballers in 2019. On the bottom of the list based on the number of high-balls thrown was Astros starter Jordan Lyles, but his high-ball pitch percent of 28.4% pushed him into the two-spot. Given that the League average in 2019 was 16.8%, Lyles was more than 50% above average.

The strike zone has changed over the years. According to the OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULES, 2019 Edition,

The STRIKE ZONE is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoul- ders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The Strike Zone shall be determined from the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.

To appreciate what a high pitch is you need to know the strike zone’s dimensions.

Mike Fast wrote that there are two ways to dimension the strike zone.

One is to use fixed heights for the top and bottom boundaries of the zone for all batters, regardless of the height or stance of the batter.  The most commonly used fixed heights are 1.5 feet for the bottom of the zone and 3.5 feet for the top of the zone.

As the second way involves the statistical technique of normalization, it will not be covered in this post. Those mathematically inclined can find an explanation here.

As Fast’s article was published in 2011, I checked the strike zone a second way. Statcast’s “Plate Z” setting shows a pitch’s height. In 2019, the average height of a pitch in the high-ball zone was 3.65 feet. In all zones, the average height was 2.25 feet. Since 2015, the average heights have been 2.25, 2.26, 2.41, 2.25, and 2.25, so they have been almost identical in four of the past five years.

This is a HIGH pitch.

And some batters can clobber pitches even when they are high.

Lindor’s homer, his 18th, was hit off a pitch 3.53 feet high and was the only homer he hit that season off a pitch at least three above the plate. In 2018, the average pitch height of his homers was 2.16 feet.

To be continued

Statcast Search: Called Strikes

In 2019, which Met pitcher threw the most called strikes?

This post reveals how to find the answer using Statcast Search.


  • Pitch Result: Called Strike
  • Player Type: Pitcher
  • Team: Mets
  • Season: 2019
  • Season Type: Regular

You can view the Search Results here.

Noah Syndergaard threw the most called strikes — 3095.

Among the starters, was that the highest percentage of called strikes?

To answer that, change the Position setting to “SP.” In the Search Results, the Pitch % column contains the answer. If the column is not in descending order, click the column title until it is.

The starter with the highest percentage of pitches that were called strikes was Steven Matz. Of the 2,702 pitches he threw, 479 were called strikes. That is 17.7%.

Noah Syndergaard had the third highest called-strike percentage.