Small Sample Sizes, PPA’s and Fun With Numbers

An article by posted on October 23, 2012

Dave Hudgens has been applauded for his work with the Mets and will be back in 2013 as the Mets Hitting Coach.

I came across this post from James Gentile from Beyond the Boxscore. He does his best to figure out if longer Pitches Per Plate Appearance lead to better performance for the hitter.

While I admit that I was impressed with the amount of research he did and I respect his opinion, I can’t conclude anything more than longer PPA’s DO NOT lead to a better performance or offensive output. I will use his own chart to point out why.

Lets look at all the plate appearances in his date range of data. These are the results for all the plate appearances up through at-bats lasting from 1-10 pitches.

I want you to take note of two things in particular; the HR% and wOBA.

Look at how overwhelmingly more home runs were hit while swinging at the first or second pitch than any other plate appearances lasting 3-10.

Look at the On-Base on the first two pitch-counts which are accountable based only on base hits! Because there is no such thing as a one or two pitch walk. That also means the on-base was equal to batting average, by the way. Yes the wOBA goes up again in 7-10 but 25% of those were via walks.

That is over 4 Million plate appearances worth of data. But there’s more to that chart. Here is the rest of it:

Look how sexy the numbers look from an offensive standpoint on plate appearances lasting 11 or more pitches. Look at the HR% and wOBA for plate appearances lasting 15 and 16 pitches. Look at all 88 instances of those plate appearances.

Why is it that the people who always scream “Small Sample Size” never mention it when it doesn’t suit their argument?

We are going to throw away the four-million plate appearances worth of data and build a philosophy around less than 100 plate appearances worth of data in comparison? Really?

Do baseball games have to go from three hours to five hours to accomplish the goal of this philosophy, has anyone even considered that?

Imagine if all baseball front offices embraced this philosophy and pressed it on their players…

Starting pitchers would have thrown 100 pitches by the third inning…

The bullpen would be burned through by the eight inning…

Lucas Duda would be the emergency pitcher…

This is ridiculous.

So all this hub-bub over this PPA philosophy, which Alderson now seems to mention whenever he talks about the offense, is based solely on this flimsy (at best) evidence?

Wow.

This is a perfect game… A beautiful game…

Why is someone always trying to ruin it?

Keith Hernandez, a player with a career .296/.388/.436 slash, and someone who knows a thing or two about hitting, says it best:

“The problem with this philosophy is that it doesn’t consider that sometimes the best pitches a hitter sees [that he can hit] are the first or second pitches.” (Bracket emphasis mine.)

Shut up, Keith… What the heck do you know…

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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