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  #1  
Old 06-26-2018, 07:05 PM
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Default Launch Angles, Crooked Sticks and Baseball Bats _ A Rant

Golf, like baseball, involves hitting a ball with a stick, or in golf's case a bag full of sticks. Like baseball, the pros and the equipment manufacturers want to optimize distance. To this end launch angles, club head speeds, spin rates and coefficients of restitution have been part of the golf world's lexicon in the past decade.

In golf, unlike baseball, the ball is stationary when struck. The clubs have a face which is fixed and designed to loft the ball to a variety of heights depending on the requirements of the shot, distance desired and clearance of hazards. Measuring launch angles and the result distance of the shot given a constant club head speed is generally reproducible information. Club design changes can use this information to obtain more desirable results for the golfer. Likewise balls can be measured and optimized by golf ball manufacturers. Golfers themselves can alter their swings to achieve better results as well. At least at the highest level of proficiency, it sort of makes sense to generate this data and use it to one's advantage.

In the last year or two similar technology has been introduced in baseball and the terms "launch angle" and "exit speed" are being bandied about by the younger crop of announcers. I would not argue that there is an optimal launch angle for the batter to hit the ball over the fence and like golf the ball is round.
The batter however is provided with a round bat (with no intrinsic launch angle built in). If the bat happens to hit the ball, a quarter or even an eighth of an inch could have a profound impact on launch angle. Compound this with the fact that ball struck is moving up to 100 mph and each pitch is in a different location.

Furthermore imagine that you are a vaunted home run hitter and that last season you also struck out 200 times. Think for minute. 600 times you failed to even generate a measurable launch angle, and you are still an all-star. Does Jordan Spieth, Bubba or Tiger completely miss the ball 600 times in a season?
Obviously not.

Then imagine you are in the batter's box facing Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth. You know that the next pitch will be a 102 mph fastball. You pray that it will not hit you. You have less than a second to assess if and where it might cross the plate. Coupled with this you must decide whether to swing or not. If you happen to be successful and make contact with the ball, how much time did you spend to optimize your launch angle. What is shorter than a nanosecond?

When all is said and done, if the ball clears the fence in fair territory, you have hit a home run. Your launch angle may have been close to optimal (or not) and your input as a batter to tweak your launch angle is virtually non-existent. The fact that you didn't strike out is an accomplishment.

I fully realize that hitting a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher is exceeding difficult. Hitting a ball off a tee or in a divot is considerably easier.
Crooked sticks (golf clubs) are designed to make it even easier. Making golf clubs, golf balls and golfers better is the end result of launch angle technology in golf.

In baseball we are swamped with statistics, good and bad, and an incredible about of data. If something does not help our understanding of the game, it should be discarded.

What does the future hold? Will there sometime in the future be a plaque in Cooperstown with an inscription commenting on a player's superior and consistent launch angle? I respectfully doubt it.

If this verbage remains in the baseball lexicon, I propose the following.

Change the All-Star game Home Run Derby into a Launch Angle Derby.
Require all participants to hit balls off Tees (as in Teeball and Golf).
Determine the winner not by the number of homeruns, but rather by a complicated computer generated launch angle efficiency.

End of rant.
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  #2  
Old 06-26-2018, 07:29 PM
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The Fangraphs dudes lost me at BABIP.
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Old 06-27-2018, 07:55 AM
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Not true that the ball in golf is always stationary when struck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW084qWwhV4
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Old 06-27-2018, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_Spaeth View Post
The Fangraphs dudes lost me at BABIP.
Was that right before BADABING (Batting Average During A Break In Non-Division Games)?
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Old 06-27-2018, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by frankbmd View Post
If you happen to be successful and make contact with the ball, how much time did you spend to optimize your launch angle. What is shorter than a nanosecond?

.

I realize youíre referring to the time in the moment, but donít ignore that these are the best athletes in their sport who have spent years and countless hours on their craft, including barreling up a baseball. They make adjustments and decisions without even knowing because theyíve practiced for those moments.



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Old 06-27-2018, 04:30 PM
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As a play by play tool presented on tv, I don't think providing launch angle, exit velocity, spin etc for any particular play is particularly useful.

I think it is useful when applied statistically. Large sample sizes can tease out temporal trends or correlations that may be hidden in more traditional statistics. I think this is true for hitting, pitching and defense. How does a guy's spin rate change after an injury or when he is fatigued? Is this guy's decline in offensive production due to bad luck or a decline in how hard or high he hits the ball? The speed, launch angle and location of a batted ball also help evaluate fielding. And I know that teams are asking questions much more creative than this. Of course there are flaws and I'm sure it can be over-analyzed, but I think any team that is not heavily using this kind of data is handicapping themselves.
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Old 06-27-2018, 05:41 PM
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As a play by play tool presented on tv, I don't think providing launch angle, exit velocity, spin etc for any particular play is particularly useful.

I think it is useful when applied statistically. Large sample sizes can tease out temporal trends or correlations that may be hidden in more traditional statistics. I think this is true for hitting, pitching and defense. How does a guy's spin rate change after an injury or when he is fatigued? Is this guy's decline in offensive production due to bad luck or a decline in how hard or high he hits the ball? The speed, launch angle and location of a batted ball also help evaluate fielding. And I know that teams are asking questions much more creative than this. Of course there are flaws and I'm sure it can be over-analyzed, but I think any team that is not heavily using this kind of data is handicapping themselves.
Perhaps, but if your big stick Oscar is hitting 50 dingers annually for several years and then injures his wiener and his production drops to a 20/year level,
you know something is wrong. You analyze his launch angle before and after the injury and have an aha moment noting the reduction of his angle.

So then what. He's due up in the ninth facing a flamethrower. Does the manager then lean over to Mr. Mayer and say, "Oscar increase your launch angle", or does he hand him a new pitching wedge.
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Old 06-27-2018, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by AGuinness View Post
I realize youíre referring to the time in the moment, but donít ignore that these are the best athletes in their sport who have spent years and countless hours on their craft, including barreling up a baseball. They make adjustments and decisions without even knowing because theyíve practiced for those moments.



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With the ever increasing number of whiffs (strike outs) in today's game perhaps they need to practice barreling up more. Worrying about your launch angle when failing to make contact seems fruitless.
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  #9  
Old 06-27-2018, 07:43 PM
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Now that we've been introduced to 'spin rate', shouldn't the 'rinse cycle' be next? Hey, that would clean up the game, right?


...and I'm willing to wait a game or two to see a Joey Gallo homer...while enjoying the nice, refreshing breeze...
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Old 06-27-2018, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankbmd View Post
With the ever increasing number of whiffs (strike outs) in today's game perhaps they need to practice barreling up more. Worrying about your launch angle when failing to make contact seems fruitless.
I totally understand if this is not helping your (or anybody's) enjoyment of baseball. I do think that calling it fruitless is a bit of a poor choice of words - there have been a number of examples through recent years of players focusing on launch angle and with results being fruitful (Josh Donaldson is the poster boy of this). And also just how the game is trending, with more fly balls and strike outs, part of which can be attributed to launch angle data - and this is not just a few teams, but most teams are putting the data to use in this way. Again, if this stuff doesn't appeal to you, I get it, but players, coaches, front offices, etc. are certainly utilizing it (and probably other data the public is totally unaware of, too).
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Old 06-28-2018, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AGuinness View Post
I totally understand if this is not helping your (or anybody's) enjoyment of baseball. I do think that calling it fruitless is a bit of a poor choice of words - there have been a number of examples through recent years of players focusing on launch angle and with results being fruitful (Josh Donaldson is the poster boy of this). And also just how the game is trending, with more fly balls and strike outs, part of which can be attributed to launch angle data - and this is not just a few teams, but most teams are putting the data to use in this way. Again, if this stuff doesn't appeal to you, I get it, but players, coaches, front offices, etc. are certainly utilizing it (and probably other data the public is totally unaware of, too).
You can call me a faux contrarian and you may be correct. To be honest I had similar feelings and arguments with respect to the introduction of similar technology years ago in the game of golf. On the driving range a respected golf ball maker measured my launch angle, spin and clubhead speed using my own balls and then with several of theirs. The inconsistencies in my swing resulted in superior results with my balls rather than theirs. They of course concluded independent of the results, that I would do better with their brand.

Whether or not the practical application of launch angles evolves in baseball remains to be seen in my opinion. I do have my doubts, but my mind remains open. Until then I shall remain focused on true analytics best exemplified by BABIP, BADABING & BADABOOM.

Long before the WAR, baseball was a statistical haven, which in large measure attracted me to the game in the 50s.

Where does the game go from here. If the ability to review plays improves to a matter of seconds, let’s review them all. Calling balls and strikes electronically seems entirely feasible as well. We don’t really need umpires, do we.

Perhaps the game will evolve and one day a game will be played in which the visiting team hits 9 home runs and strikes out 27 times (if leading the home team could only have 24 strikeouts). Precise launch angles and 100+ mph pitching will eliminate singles, doubles and triples. Improved pitching will virtually eliminate walks, except for intentional walks.

Obviously much of my input in this thread in said tongue in cheek. I leave it to the reader to decide which “cheek”.
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Last edited by frankbmd; 06-28-2018 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 06-28-2018, 12:45 PM
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Hitting a golf ball is easier?!

Maybe for some people.
For me, it's very hard.
I've played one game, and enjoyed it, but it wasn't at all easy.
I usually don't have any real idea how far or where the ball is actually going.
Typically it starts out straight and then goes well to the right. Even when I aim deliberately to the left, the ball ends up going to the right. Sometimes. If I could throw a ball like that I'd make millions.

Of course, that game I was getting some comments from the people I ended up playing with they asked to join my friend and I, which was cool. Told them I hadn't played and was expecting to be very bad. The first hole naturally curved to the right. Ended up behind a small shrub and figured on hitting the ball through it instead of relocating for a penalty. for some reason it worked! Ended up only +1 on the first hole. Second hole also bent right, no shrubs, Par 3 - made it Third hole - Par 5 some silly distance like 500 something. dead straight. Topped the ball and it went maybe 20 feet. "what will you do now" "Oh, I'll just rev up, hit it as hard as I can, and if I'm really lucky it'll turn right like always, hit a tree and bounce forward. (there was a wooded embankment all down the right side. )
That actually happened.
They weren't believing that I'd never played before.
Everything that happened after that showed them their suspicions had been wrong. I ended up at 200+ for 9 holes, Lost all the balls I'd brought and a few of my friends and a few of theirs.
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Old 06-28-2018, 01:06 PM
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Default Launch Angles

When I hear "launch angle" I always think of the scene in Major League.

Vaughn gives up a HR and the guys in the crowd says "its too high", and after it goes out his friend says to him "too high, what does that mean 'too high'?"



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_wc...utu.be&t=1m40s
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Old 06-29-2018, 12:40 PM
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There's some good info in this story, including interesting stuff from Ted Williams almost 50 years ago on launch angle:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graph...=.e0481a7f4b5b
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Old 06-29-2018, 03:37 PM
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Behind a paywall, like so much today.
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Old 06-29-2018, 04:30 PM
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Behind a paywall, like so much today.
Steve, you need to increase your launch angle to clear the Paywall.
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Old 06-29-2018, 05:46 PM
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Behind a paywall, like so much today.


The Washington Post story? I havenít found a paywall on it...


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Old 06-29-2018, 09:18 PM
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The Washington Post story? I havenít found a paywall on it...


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No paywall here and an interesting piece. Although not specifically about launch angles, Robert Adairís book, The Physics of Baseball, is recommended for those interested in this sort of thing. The book has at least three editions each adding additional material. If interested, look for the third edition.
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Old 06-29-2018, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankbmd View Post
No paywall here and an interesting piece. Although not specifically about launch angles, Robert Adairís book, The Physics of Baseball, is recommended for those interested in this sort of thing. The book has at least three editions each adding additional material. If interested, look for the third edition.


Thanks for the tip, Iím adding that to my list!


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Old 06-30-2018, 04:25 PM
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The Washington Post story? I haven’t found a paywall on it...


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You get a handful of views per month. Exceed that and your exit velocity is 86.

Last edited by Paul S; 06-30-2018 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 06-30-2018, 04:58 PM
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You get a handful of views per month. Exceed that and your exit velocity is 86.
Thank god they donít publish a daily launch angle column..............yet.
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