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The Book on Zimm

February 3, 2010

For those who have read Ted Williams’ The Science of Hitting, you undoubtedly remember the illustration where Ted Williams predicted his batting average by location.  They even have a mock-up as an exhibit in the Hall of Fame.  If you have never seen the illustration, check it out on the official Ted Williams website.  With the PitchFX data that MLB collects on each pitch, we no longer have to predict and guestimate.  Every pitch location is calculated to an approximate 1/2 inch accuracy by triangulating data from multiple video cameras.  So with this data, let’s look at Ryan Zimmerman’s 2009 Silver Slugger season.

Here is Ryan’s line from 2009, broken down by pitch type:

I took the PitchFX data, and normalized the pitch location for each pitch. (Sometimes batters squat a little more, sometimes they stand a little more upright – the actual tops and bottoms of the strikezone change with each pitch.)  I then broke the strike zone into a 3×3 grid.  I also computed all high, low, inside and outside pitches into 16 additional bins.  You can see from the chart above that Zimm had 610 at bats in 2009.  Here is the breakdown by location of the payoff pitch for each at bat.  The red box is the strikezone.  If you have ever watched MLB Gameday on the web, you know that this view is behind the umpire.  So, for these charts, Zimmerman, a right handed batter, is standing on the left.

I then selected the hits for each at bat by zone to create a batting average for each area of the strike zone.

Here is Zimm’s 2009 Batting Average by zone:

Here is the chart for Slugging Percentage.

This is the same data available to pitching coaches when creating “the book” on hitters.  We can actually break down this information any number of ways.  For example, looking at the line on Zimmerman you can see that in 2009, he struck out swinging 38 times on fastballs.  It’s easy to build a chart to show location of those pitches.

You can also build charts for each pitch count.  I won’t bore you with more numbers, but you can imagine that if a pitching coach wanted to know how Zimmerman fared against curveballs thrown on a 1-2 count by location, someone could build him a chart in less than 30 seconds.  Each pitcher could also have a custom book made, showing how he personally pitched against each batter by pitch type, location, and count.

In future posts, we’ll investigate the remainder of the Nats lineup.  If anyone wants additional chart on Zimmerman, shoot me an email.  I’ll be glad to send you the rest of the data.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate Kennedy permalink
    February 4, 2010 3:14 PM

    This is great stuff!!! How does Zimm compare to the rest of the league?


  1. The Book on Zimm continued « NatsStats
  2. Starting Rotation – Command of the Strike Zone « NatsStats

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