A further analysis on the “Barrel” stat

Recently at the site I write at, ROBaseball.com, I did a four-part series attempting to better introduce the baseball world to “barrels”:  the best type of contact a hitter can hope for, the worst type a pitcher attempts to avoid.

In the first part – https://robaseball.com/embrace-the-barrel-baseballs-newest-statistic-a8d9004d0c70#.80v2lauqe – I defined what a barrel is, take a look if this is a new term to you, and I took 2016’s barrels numbers to redefine one of baseball’s other growing statistics: FIP. My argument was FIP is too home run dependent, and home runs are too often affected by outside factors: wind, stadium size, etc. What Barrel FIP attempted to do was replace the home run portion of the formula to barrels; then I took a look at who the change helped or hurt the most.

Since most of you are curious where the Nationals come in, here’s some interesting tidbits for the Washington squad in 2016.
  • Max Scherzer placed eleventh in pitchers with at least 150 IP who Barrel FIP helped the most. Home runs were clearly a problem last season, but if Max wasn’t giving up a dinger, he wasn’t giving up a barrel.
  • Tanner Roark went the opposite way; he placed 15th in who Barrel FIP didn’t help. The 17 home runs do not sound bad on the season, but Roark gave up 31 barrels on the year.
  • As with any stat measuring relief pitchers, take the sample size with a grain of salt, but Shawn Kelley placed 13th in pitchers with at least 50 IP who Barrel FIP helped the most (Yusmeiro Petit placed 15th). May be a good sign for the potential closer for next season.
In part two – https://robaseball.com/the-hardest-luck-out-of-2016-a21615a1af32#.xx8uztcjf – I looked into a segmented portion of barrels to try to find what were the minimal requirements for home runs. What it turned out into was a study on who had the “hardest luck” out of 2016 based on all similar hits with that criteria. Nothing directly Washington related here (home runs on every contact of the segment studied).

In part three – https://robaseball.com/forget-coors-chase-and-comerica-are-where-the-barrels-are-at-d73856144b4c#.skfz9bqgy – I looked at if there may be any possible “stadium effect” to barrels. The science of Statcast should avoid the use of the baseball bad word of “luck”, so there had to be some explanation why numbers weren’t treated equally between stadiums. Again, nothing too Washington related here. Nationals Park was almost EXACTLY in the middle: the mean barrels per stadium in 2016 was 242.8, in Nationals Park there were 243 barrels.

In part four, the finale – https://robaseball.com/which-defense-saved-the-most-barrels-c22fbccc0961#.q0tx6pnu6 – I looked into the defensive side of barrels. I wasn’t sure where looking at which teams “saved” the most barrels would lead me, but as I dug deeper, I uncovered a lot of interesting material. I dive into where barrel outs most often occur (center field) and thus the teams that saved the most barrels often had the best center fielder. Washington ended up almost in the exact middle again (league average was 44.1% on saving barrels, Washington was 44.05%), but in center they fell a little below average. Some fun reasons why:

  • Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth both went five for 12 on barrel saving opportunities, slightly below league average.
  • Michael A. Taylor led all Washington center fielders, albeit with a smaller sample size, going five for nine.
  • Ben Revere (a bad name around these parts, I understand) is where the numbers fell; Revere went eight for 19 in barrel saving opportunities, one of the lowest percentages I’ve come across.

There’s my four part series. I am always up for answering whatever questions you may have and even though I’ve claimed this series is over, I am always willing to take recommendations on a different area to look into.

Casey Boguslaw
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