Saber Corner
I'm Wit' Bill


An especially to-the-point Hey Bill today:


This year's trendy stats have been launch angle and exit velocity. Now, when I'm watching a game, I can tell the difference between a fly ball and a line drive, and I can tell how hard a ball is hit. I don't need Euclid to plot it out for me like I'm in math class. Can't I just appreciate the picture? Do they chart the parabola after Steph Curry swhishes a 30 footer? After Aaron Rodgers throws a bomb? No, because you can see them right in front of you.  
So launch angle and exit velocity are irritating to me, plus I don't know what value I'm supposed to make of them. A one-hopper to short is liable to be the hardest hit ball all night, harder than a high fly that just clears the wall. So what? If only McCovey had gotten under that pitch, he'd have hit it out, and the Giants win the Series. We know.  
So tell me, what do launch angles and exit velocities tell us about hitting that we can't see for ourselves or we don't already know?
Asked by: JackKeefe

Answered: 7/11/2017
 It is likely that these measurements could be used in some cases to diagnose failure and build a pathway toward success.    When you get your annual physical and they do the bloodwork, there are 250 numbers in there that don't mean anything to you, but to your doctor your albumin/globulin ratio may indicate the possibility of Multiple Myeloma (which my father died of) or it could indicate cirrhosis or kidney disease or poor circulation.   I have my physical report in front of me; it says that my RDW is normal and my MPV is normal and my BASO% is normal.   My Creatinine is normal.   I have NO idea what any of this means, but I am glad somebody is checking on all this stuff.   
If you have a player who has a high exit velocity but isn't hitting for power, it could indicate power potential there if an adjustment is made.    I'm not confident that you would see this without a measurement of it.   
I agree that these terms are. . . .overly trendy right now.    I think they are strange choices for part of the daily sportswriting vocabulary, and that, in general, they are either organically useless or measuring things that are obvious anyway.   People are using these terms to let us know that they are with it; they are up on all the latest stuff.   I think in ten years these terms will most likely be returned to the back of the pantry where they belong.   But I think they may possibly be of some use to professionals.  - James


Exec Sum:  usually these super-refined numbers are best used to --- > fix problems.  It's not that they can routinely point out things invisible to us.  I agree.  Which is why we don't go whole-hog on StatCast's "expected batting average," "expected ISO" and so forth.  Stats are backwards-looking anyway.

It's good to be aware of them, but "back of the pantry" is a good thought here, IMHO.


Not to apologize for Ben Gamel's insane batting average.  :- )  Though it does seem quite possible to me that he's going to peak at better than .260.  

And not to sound preachy.  But SSI's take on "launch velo" is to weight it less than most places do, especially since two guys averaging 88 MPH might have one guy producing many more 95+ shots.  And SSI's take on "launch angle" is that it is WAY overdone.

Overdone does not mean useless.



Here's a party-neutral piece from Scott Adams.  He laments that fully 33% of Americans are tone-deaf to humor.  It's an intriguing thought whichever party you tend to vote for; who knew it could possibly be that many people?

Abraham Lincoln, during the Civil War, was asked why he goofed off so much.  "If I didn't laugh, I'd cry."  We could ALL stand to 

Given a choice between shtick or baseball bats wrapped in barb wire, let's go with shtick.  :- )  Whattaya say.


Dr D




of wit falling on deaf ears to massive swaths of society these days.  I can't recall the articles, or the hosts for them, off the top of my head.  But this is something that's bubbling near the surface of our ongoing, contentious political debate (much of which, these days, is driven by memers in their basements).

Jonathan Haidt has a brilliant TED Talk from a couple years ago that talks about fundamental, immutable psychological differences between Lefties and Righties.  Linked below.


thanks a million for the link. I think of Haidt as 'my type of liberal'...and this talk only reinforces that.

On his point of stepping away from our self-righteousness...and realizing all that we actually agree leads directly to the question of what exactly it is that is preventing us from doing that.

I'm sure opinions will vary  :)


Information dissemination is, after all, one of the Think Tank's primary reasons for being.

It's rare that I find an article, or transcript, like the TED Talk by Haidt linked above that simultaneously floors me and resonates with a handful of my own half-formed theories on human behavior.  Such resonant material, like the articles by Camille Paglia that Jeff linked for me years ago, deserves to be placed in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

As to the specific mechanisms/obstacles which prevent/hinder us from 'coming together,' to paraphrase your post above, that's actually pretty simple and can be boiled down to a single word that describes the oft-manipulated psycho-social mechanism behind our ongoing separation: tribalism.

And let me be clear: in my opinion, tribalism is GOOD.  It is NATURAL.  And more important that any of that, it is HUMAN!  Denying a fundamental aspect of who and what we are is a surefire way to fail in whatever efforts follow that denial.  The trick, I think, is in arranging the priority of tribes in each of our minds--and this is where we get manipulated by the Powers That Be into working against each other instead of alongside one another.

Think of it this way: let's say you're a man who lives in Seattle, WA; you've got a wife and two kids; you're an ex-military serviceman; you're a registered Democrat; and you belong to your local Baptist Church.  How do you prioritize these facets of who you are?  Does your 'husband' role take priority over your 'father' role?  What about your citizenship?  Does your USA citizenship take precedence over your Washington State residency?  How about your religion, is it of greater priority, for you, than your military service history and the bonds made therein?  These are individuated questions for which there is no 'right' answer, but my worry is that people are increasingly dividing us into smaller and smaller buckets and subgroups in an effort to keep us from coming together.  'Divide & Conquer' isn't just a catchy phrase, after all.

The Powers That Be (whether they're politicians, media titans, entertainers with ulterior motives, or anyone else who seeks to manipulate your behavior rather than to simply inform you) would like to manipulate your priorities in such a way that is favorable to their agenda.  So if it's a Presidential election year, the D on the ticket is goign to appeal to the fact that you're a lifelong registered Democrat--this will be pushed so hard that, at times, said D might go so far as to suggest that supporting the R makes you unworthy of citizenship in the USA.  This is an attempt to subordinate your USA Citizenship to your Democratic Party affiliation, and the sad truth is that this particular approach *appears* to succeed more often than it fails, atl east these last few decades.  (and, again, to be clear: ALL politicians employ this tactic; it's not confined to 'one side' of the political aisle. but most people in Seattle are, in fact, Democrats so it fits the narrative)

The reason Free Speech was given primacy in the USA's founding charter was to ensure that people *could* always come together to talk difficult issues through.  It ensured that, if we were so inclined, we could sit down and discuss important ideas without fear of retribution from those whose hands rest on the levers of power.  It was designed to enable us to inform ourselves, and each other, and in the end that's the only way to fight against the more pernicious effects of tribalism.

I can't find the quote from Thomas Jefferson regarding advocacy vs. enlightenment/truth-seeking, but the sentiment was pretty simple: the two are mutually exclusive.  If you're fighting to advance a given cause, you're necessarily closing your mind to the possibility that your efforts are not only potentially wasted, but actually counterproductive.  Advocacy appeals to tribalism, obviously, and therefore presents major impediments to our ongoing enlightenment, both individually and societally.

And to finish this absurdly lengthy, rambling mini-essay, I'll say that a (THE???) key difference between politicians and philosophers is this: politicians want you to follow ; philosophers want you to understand .


Self-deprecating humor, humor for the sheer fun of it, humor that makes us all (of whatever political persuasion) laugh because in it we see ourselves, our human frailties and peculiarities, these are to be preferred over the kind of humor that is haughty, nasty, crude-for-crudeness-sake, and demeaning of it's objects.

The first categories concern shared humanity, the second an attempt to vanquish and humiliate those who you see as different, those you want to marginalize, those who disagree with you.

The first type: Dick Van Dyke, Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason

The second type, in my lifetime, started with The Smothers Brothers and George Carlin, and graduated into the current politically oriented late-night comedians. These latter are quite funny if you are part of their know-it-all in-group. But if you're not, it's not nearly so funny. Those comics cater to a subset and look down their noses at those they consider their inferiors.

I wish comedy would go back to the first type, where we could all laugh together.

(These are generalizations, of course. There have always been politically-oriented comics, crude comics, and mean-spirited comics (of this latter Don Rickles comes to mind). 


Shows you how out of touch I am. The only name I recognize in your list is Jeff Foxworthy. He was part of a country comedy show with several other guys who were hysterical. So yeah, my post was a generalization.


He was (is?) such an equal opoprtunity comedian: most of his best Chappelle's Show episodes either dealt with basic human nature (like 'The Internet Is A Nasty Place,' or whatever it was titled) or shotgunned multiple different social/ethnic groups on the exact same playing field (the one where he demonstrated which types of music made black, white, or latino people go nuts was side-splitting; his 'Racial Draft' episode was gut-busting; his 'Reparations' skit was equally hilarious, though it focused predominantly on black people with white people commentating more or less from the sidelines--where Chappelle himself was in white-face).

Sorry for the rant, haha.  I've written short essays on this very subject (my old computer died so I haven't pulled all the old material off its hard drive) but I basically concur with the above sentiments: the best humor is humor that pokes fun at basic human nature/tendencies, while the worst humor is strictly partisan and, as a fundamental component, requires the audience to divide into an 'us vs. them' mentality.  It can all be funny (so can pure physical comedy) but the *best* stuff makes everyone equally amused and introspective, without any of the hamfisted bludgeon-the-audience-over-the-head nonsense that suffuses too much of contemporary 'comedy.'


Chappelle definitely belongs on my list...Tim Allen, Gilbert Godfried, Jerry Seinfeld...there are others I'm forgetting


Tim Allen I know, and I agree he's of the first kind and VERY funny.

Gilbert Godfried I know of, and...his persona makes me puke, makes me want to change the channel the moment I see (hear) him. But true that he is not mean, and he can be funny.

Jerry Seinfeld is definitely of the first kind and one of the funniest comedians.

So yeah, there are "first kind" guys out there, even some I am familiar with. Point taken.

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