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Old 06-26-2018, 07:05 PM
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frankbmd frankbmd is offline
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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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Last edited by KMayUSA6060; 06-27-2018 at 07:56 AM.
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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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Quote:
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 you’re referring to the time in the moment, but don’t 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 they’ve 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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Quote:
Originally Posted by celoknob View Post
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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All my cards are centered, some are just cut incorrectly.

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Old 06-27-2018, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AGuinness View Post
I realize you’re referring to the time in the moment, but don’t 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 they’ve 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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FRANK:BUR:KETT - ALMOST OLD ENOUGH TO BE ON A PREWAR CARD.

519/1000 Monster Number --- WHAT'S YOUR MONSTER NUMBER?

Over*667* successful B/S/T transactions completed in 2012-17.
Over 250 satisfied Board members served.
Thank you all.


All my cards are centered, some are just cut incorrectly.

Only 37.10% crazy based on recent polling data, but still a weird dude.
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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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Last edited by clydepepper; 06-27-2018 at 07:45 PM.
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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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