Today, I’m excited to introduce you to something brand new that several of us have been working on this off-season. Available soon on iPads and iPhones for the 2011 season, the Bill James Baseball IQ app enables anyone to do the kind of research we do at Baseball Info Solutions on a regular basis. One of the key features of the app will enable fans to use heat maps to study several aspects of the game, including hit locations, pitch locations, and locations in and out of the strike zone where batters strike out or get their hits.
Let's take the Bill James Baseball IQ app for a test drive. One of the chart selections on the app is called the "K Zone" and it enables the user to view a heat map displaying the location of pitches where a player commonly strikes out. You can select a batter or a pitcher and there are several different filter options available, such as pitch type, the count and the season (the data currently stretches back to 2007).
As a comparison, let’s look at two left-handed hitters that changed teams this off-season, Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford. We’ll keep it simple and look at 2010 only and we won’t specify a pitch type.
The first result set we’ll look at is Carl Crawford.
While there were a handful of instances where Crawford strikes out low and in, up and away or high and out of the zone (lighter blue areas), an overwhelming number of his strikeouts in 2010 came on the pitch down and away where he chased a ball out of the strike zone and possibly in the dirt.
Pena’s chart is more lightly colored in general, which indicates he has a greater variety of pitch locations where he strikes out (and reflects that he strikes out more often than Crawford). His most common whiffs are on pitches that were higher in the zone on the outside corner. He also struck out a lot on balls down and toward the outside part of the plate. But, in contrast to Crawford, these low/outside pitches were in or close to the strike zone.
One swipe of the touch screen takes the user to a screen which analyzes the data even further. For instance, 67% of Crawford’s strikeouts came on pitches out of the zone, while only 53% of Pena’s strikeouts were on pitches out of the strike zone.
Instant analysis like this will be at your fingertips (literally) very soon. We plan on launching the app early this spring. Keep an eye out for it in the App store.