The Importance of Fly Balls
Prior to writing my book Fantasy Baseball for Smart People, I was messing around with FanGraphs’ statistical database performing searches on win probability and other advanced metrics that women find irresistible. Seriously, they can’t help themselves once I whip out my ISO. “Tell me again how it’s a perfect measure of raw power,” they exclaim.
If there’s one unique stat that the ladies love, though, it’s batted ball profiles. Consequently, I spend a lot of time studying ground ball and fly ball percentages. I just don’t want to be that guy who gets rejected by a girl because he can’t tell her which team led Major League Baseball in fly ball rate last season.
While looking at last year’s batted ball profiles on the team level, I noticed the Oakland Athletics were a pretty sizeable outlier in terms of fly ball rate.
The difference between Oakland’s 41.1 percent fly ball rate and that of the second-place team—the Cubs—was greater than the difference between Chicago and the next 19 teams in baseball.
And it wasn’t just last season. Oakland ranked first in fly ball rate, by a wide margin, in the prior season as well. And the one before that.
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