Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Home Run Derby - Its harder than you think

The Home Run Derby, every kid's Dream. Batters get to take some meatball pitches and just crush them out of the stadium. Many spectators, including myself, always wonder why aren't there more Home Runs. I mean seriously, think about this. A pro-athlete who trains to crush a small ball more than 400 feet, and is given a (somewhat) perfect pitch. Surprisingly, it is not as easy as one would think.

Endurance - During a game, David Ortiz sees about 5 pitches per at bat, and has a swing rate of 21.8. That Means on average he is swinging at 1 pitch per at bat. Mind you, these are gross averages. Sometimes Ortiz will swing at 14 pitches, as he did the other day, and other times he will swing and hit the first pitch. He also averages 4 at bats per game. So for a typical 24 hour period, David Ortiz is swinging at 4 pitches. Here are some things to note, before you stop believing. Not every strike is swung at, and he also draws quite a few walks because of his power. So he is swinging at 4 pitches. Ever wonder how many it takes during the Home-Run Derby? It is a minimum of 10! If you are eliminated in the first round, you still are swinging (with power) at 2.5 more pitches than normal. That mind you, those 10 are missed swings. If you hit a Home Run, you keep swinging.

Swings Per Player Per Round

Name Round 1 - Round 2 - Final
Robinson Cano - 18 , 22, 18
Adrian Gonzalez - 19,21,21
Prince Fielder - 20,14
David Ortiz - 20, 19
Matt Holliday - 20
Jose Bautista - 14
Rickie Weeks - 13
Matt Kemp - 12

This may seem silly at first a major leaguer has to do his job and "Swing" at bat as hard as he can to get the ball over the fence. But in reality, it is tougher than the average game. Sure there are outliers, and some people have hit more Home Runs in one game than Matt Kemp did in a competition where that is his sole job.

Wasted Energy
Now sure, I love when the ball travels 459 feet, and it hits some banister and the crowd goes wild. The matter of the fact though, is that all Home Runs are created equal. Distance does not (yet anyway) factor into your outcome. Cano's longest distance was 472. Farthest part of that stadium is 407 (with a pretty tall wall). So that means Cano wasted 65 feet, that perhaps he could have used on other smaller hits, that might have been converted to Home Runs. Sure this is not a dollar value, and can not be added or subtracted, but something to note. The Home Run derby does not reward distance, so why do players insist on crushing the ball father than they have to. Mainly because they don't have a gauge on them that says Hey, let me hit this ball only 408 feet, I'll save that energy for the rest.

I enjoy the Home Run Derby, and this is not a criticism of it. Just a reality of how hard it actually is. I probably couldn't crush 22 Home Runs even on the little league field, (with or without my dad throwing me warm-up pitches).

1 comment:

RonCap said...

I like the way you think. This is a very interesting read.