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HitTrax Session: Contact Point

Updated: Sep 14, 2019

The following data was pulled from a session of cage work off of front toss at 15 feet way with a wood bat at 33", 31 oz as a right handed hitter. The additional variables are as followed:

  1. Position in box - Close to plate (6-10 inches away) Back of box (6 inches from back line)

  2. Indoor Batting Cage

  3. Worn baseballs, very old.

  4. Limited active warm-up (dry swings, mace swings, arm circles, tuck jumps)

  5. I'll let you know now that I wasn't able to send the data via csv file or as a document so I had to take pictures of the screen and create my own spreadsheet.

It was interesting to finally get to see HitTrax at work and I believe the most beneficial pieces of HitTrax is seeing contact point and developing graphs for you for average launch angle and exit velocity. I do see the value. It's going to be great to pair with Blast Motion and see attack angle and time to impact, it would be even cooler to pair rapsodo to see the spin axis and spin rate of the ball to better understand what the by might be doing in flight and could give us more feedback as to why or how that swing generated that particular batted ball profile.

Where I had trouble was at times the contact point was noticeably off, and therefore I wasn't comfortable using that particular data for the chart above. Now the above spreadsheet is in chronological order of swings. I took about 80 swings total but with a good amount of mishit balls and some questionable contact points that I felt were off I only used 37 swings. The reason being because I wanted to find trends in my well hit (barreled) balls. I also wanted to add the approach of what I was trying to do in the box because that clearly dictated the outcome of the metrics, especially when it came to contact point. The first thing that begun to stick out after our first part of the session in the (Hit Ball Hard Approach) was that we were seeing higher exit velo's was that if I made contact out in front of the plate. We made the assumption and said lets change the focus to ensuring I make contact out in front of the plate. Which you can tell in swings 14-31 where contact point was a focus, there was a higher average of EV at 89. Compared to 82.3 in the first round where a deeper contact point was consistent. One thing to notice was everything was pull when the contact point focus was to be in front of the plate.

Below I sorted the data numerically by exit velocity, again what definitely stands out is contact point. Not one negative contact point for exit velo over 90 mph. I was curious to know and will look to question my theory of pitch location, if it will have effect on exit velo. Most of the pitches were deemed middle-away. However please note from the variables that I am pretty close to the plate.

My personal data collected from 12/4/18

Now to actually see what the contact points look like. As you can see the color coding of the dots that label where contact was made. Exit velocity averages are given on the right side of the plate. Depth of contact is on the left. Just looking at the averages we can solidify that contact points 6+ inches in front of the plate generate higher average exit velocities. I will show a comparison to a Driveline hitting assessment to re-confirm as they have been able to collect much more data in their facility than my personal session one time at a training facility. Driveline below.

Screenshot from Driveline Hitters Assessment Article

There was also another article that Eno Harris wrote back in 2017 also supporting the claims I am making that we should be generating hard exit velocities 6-24 inches in front of the plate. Great conversation with Justin Turner is what helped spark his interest and it's funny because when me and Nick Stanley (whom I was hitting with during this session) we brought up Justin Turner right away and recalling his swing how he really gains ground towards the pitch and looks to meet the pitch out in front of the plate by a good margin.

Now what I am curious about is, what are we doing to find our individualized contact point range? Will certain hitters be stronger in the 0-6 inch range? Maybe some are better in the 12-20 inch range. What needs to be taken into consideration is the stride length, limb length (particularly legs) and where in the box the hitter is standing. Which is something I want to explore more.

Now what I wanted to do was compare my environment and pitch selection to some batted balls at the major league level. Now I understand, much different environments but for the sake of the results I want to see what type of exit velo and launch angles are being produced on fastballs middle-middle, middle-away, middle-down, and low-away. These were also right handed hitters facing off against right handed hitters. While also performing in a controlled environment of indoors in Tropicana Field from the 2018 season. These batted balls are labeled as "barrels". Barrels is a term with specific numerical values created by Tom Tango. "To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification. For every mph over 98, the range of launch angles expands." Below is the chart that Statcast produced with parameters set within my choice.

Below are all the results compared to results of barrels. As you can see there aren't too many barrels off fastballs from right handed pitchers to right handed hitters even if they are middle-middle at times.

The conclusion I think we can draw is what I touched on my belief in previous blog post of "Cage Culture" was that underhand front toss is not going to be a training environment that is going to translate to consistent success that you can count on when it comes to game situations. Where I personally was taking pitches that simulate 88-92 mph fastballs in terms of "time" it takes to get to the plate from 15 feet away from the front of home plate, that were middle to outer half and hitting them at times 310-370'. Quite simply, we are not preparing for the game. Next session will be overhand BP from a longer distance of about 35 feet away and we will look to simulate the 95 mph fastball. Hopefully there will be more correlation to my success rates and what the above baseball savant data provided from the 2018 season in the Trop. Note the visual of all 23 hitters from Daniel Robertson to Eduardo Nunez were all results from this past season at Tropicana Field.

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