This week Jake covers Advanced Scouting Reports again - this time we will take a look at hitter's instead. A good scouting report is very important, no matter what level of play you're at.
What’s up, Simple Sabermetrics fans! I want to start today’s post by first off thanking all of you for your support during Season 2 of the Simple Sabermetrics blog. I had a great time writing the past few months and hopefully I was able to share some content with you that benefits both you individually but also your team/program.
A few months ago, I wrote a post “How to Build an Elite Opposing Pitching Advanced Scouting Report.” It seemed that many of you enjoyed this post, and we even received a request that another blog be made about how to create an opposing hitter advanced scouting report. That is exactly what I am going to be diving into today!
In today’s post you can expect to learn more about the most important aspects of an opposing hitter report and why key statistics, spray charts, splits and tendencies charts are all necessary in your report. Hopefully this will give you a great starting point for you and your staff to dive in and start creating your own personal reports. Let’s get into it!
The Importance of an Advanced Scouting Report
Just like in my post made a few months back, I want to reiterate the importance of creating advanced scouting reports to use to your advantage. With the game of baseball becoming so analytically based, and with so much data being tracked, we have too many resources at our disposal to let all of this information go to waste.
Using all of this data allows players and coaches to make more informed decisions during every single pitch of a season. We are able to create reports that educate our players, allowing them to go on the mound with a plan of attack for each individual hitter. You never know which piece of information that you provide your pitcher may end up up changing the outcome of an entire game. All it takes to change a game is one pitch, so doing this work beforehand allows your athletes to go onto the bump with more confidence.
Just remember, the goal of advanced scouting reports is to play the numbers to your advantage and to try and use this information to help prepare your players. These reports are a great place to start preparing your team for an upcoming game, but unfortunately sometimes a hitter may get a hit on a pitch you didn’t think he could get to. Just remember that you are trusting your data that tells you more times than not, he would’ve got himself out on that pitch.
Main Aspects to Your Report
While it may be the most simple piece of your report, having the key statistics of opposing hitters is going to be very beneficial on your opposing hitters advanced scouting reports. These statistics are a great place to start because they allow you to see how the season has gone for the hitter up to date.
The statistics you are going to want to include are:
On Base Percentage
Doubles, Triples, Homeruns
Stolen Base Attempts
All of these statistics are fairly easy to find and should be at your disposal through the opposing team's website or statistics page. If you are working with a collegiate program, stats.ncaa.org is a great website that we used to find all of these numbers when I was working with Penn State.
There are two other statistics/measurables that I find very important to include on your report, except they may not be as easy to find. It may take a resource like Synergy Sports to find this information, but if able to, you are definitely going to want to include Bunt Attempts, and Times to First in your report.
This information will give you an idea if you should be looking at the hitter with a potential that he bunts, and also how quick he is going to get down the line on a ball in play. These numbers are going to be very valuable to your infielders so they know how much time they have and where they should be playing in the field.
Just like some of the information above, spray charts of opposing hitters may be a little difficult to find without using an outside resource. If they are available to you though, you definitely need to include them in your report to see where the batter puts the ball in play most often.
This information is going to be valuable for you and your staff when deciding how you want to shift your defense or play a certain hitter.
Above is an example of what the spray charts looked like on our reports at Penn State. As you can see, this Right-Handed Batter is pull heavy when facing Left-Handed Pitchers, and may allow you to shade your defense to the left side of the diamond. You may want to play your Third Baseman on the line and move your Shortstop more into the 6 hole.
Just remember that with this information, just like always, it is not going to be 100%. The shift is going to get beat at times, hitters are going to hit weak backside ground balls to right field that may frustrate you. This data is here for you to use as an advantage, and as we can see above, more times than not, it would’ve benefited you rather than hurt you to shift your fielders.
Splits against RHP and LHP
Breaking down how hitters succeed against both Right-Handed Pitchers and Left-Handed Pitchers is important when determining how you are going to attack a hitter. In this section of your report, you are going to want to include the hitters Batting Average against lefties, and their Batting Average against righties to see how they fare against each.
On top of batting average, I like to record the hitters Take %, Swing %, Swing and Miss %, and Chase % against each pitch from both sides of the rubber. Having an idea of pitches the hitter struggles against is going to give you a strategy of what you should be attacking them with. You are going to want to look for tendencies in pitches they may not swing at often, or pitches they tend to chase a lot, and use these to your advantage.
Let’s take a look at how this information appeared on our reports at Penn State.
The hitter above has a limited sample size, but as we can see, the boxes in red are going to be values that are playing into our favor. For example, against RHP, this hitter takes a lot of Off-Speed pitches and also swings and misses a lot at Sliders and Changeups. With a Right-Handed Pitcher on the mound, we may want to attack this hitter with more Off-Speed pitches rather than Fastballs which it looks like he makes contact with at a higher rate.
Take this information, and go watch some video based on what you believe is going to be the best route to attacking this hitter. With the hitter above, see if he looks uncomfortable against Right-Handed Off-Speed pitches, and go from there when creating your plan for success against each hitter.
Very similar to the splits charts above, you are going to want to have a tendencies chart in your report. The most important information you are going to want to have in this chart includes:
Total Swing %
0-0 Swing %
Take 1 Strike %
Ground Ball %
Line Drive %
Fly Ball %
With the bullets on the left side, the importance of this information is going to be seeing how aggressive the hitter is at the plate. Is he a guy who swings at the first pitch a lot, or does he often wait until he has 1 strike before he starts to get aggressive. He may be a hitter who you can get to chase an off-speed pitch on the first pitch of the at bat. Just like the splits charts above, all of this information is going to be valuable when determining your plan for success against the opposing hitters.
On the right side of the bullets, getting an idea of the hitter's batted ball profile can help determine shifts, and also tendencies for your defense to prepare for. If this is a guy who primarily hits the ball on the ground, as an infielder it tells me I need to be more ready when this guy is at the plate. If he hits primarily fly balls, outfielders need to be on their toes ready to make a play, and ready to run a ball down.
Yep, you read that right. You need to save an area on your report for you and your coaching staff to take notes on each individual hitter. Video is going to be just as big of a portion of your scouting as data is, so make sure you leave some room to jot down notes on what you are seeing.
Whether it is while you are watching video of the hitter, or just looking at the data and analyzing, having somewhere to write your notes down is very beneficial and easy to look back to during a game. This way, it will be on the same sheet you are looking at while the hitter is at the plate, and not in a completely different binder or location.
Take some notes on what you see while watching film, or some key numbers that stick out to you. For example, when I found a hitter who likes to bunt a lot, this was where I would make a comment about how often he push bunts or drag bunts so that we are better prepared for this situation during play. Maybe he has 10 bunts in a season, but you need to know that all 10 are sacrifice bunts.
When personalizing and creating your report, find what aspects are the most important to you and your staff. I hope all of the information I provided gives you a great spot to start, and as always feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions or need some help! Not to be repetitive, but you never know how the outcome of one single pitch could change a game - or even your entire season!