THE BAT X Projections! THE BAT... plus Statcast!
NEW for the 2020 MLB season, THE BAT has undergone its biggest upgrade since weather factors were added prior to the 2016 season! Making use of advanced Statcast data, this upgrade is actually an entirely new projection system, dubbed THE BAT X!
If you aren’t yet familiar with the Classic Version of THE BAT that’s been helping RotoGrinders users win at DFS for the past four years, you can read all about it here. THE BAT X is a brand new version of THE BAT, using the optimal combination of the traditional stats that feed THE BAT Classic and the new, advanced Statcast metrics that have become popular over the past couple seasons.
What Goes Into THE BAT X
— Launch Angles
— Exit Velocities
— Spray Angles
— Sprint Speed
How THE BAT X Was Created
I evaluated 150+ Statcast variables, starting with the basics like average launch angle and exit velocity and then evaluating various deviations and subsets of launch angles, spray angles, exit velocities, barrels, hit qualities, and so on. League-wide HR rates spike over 20% between a launch angle of 23° and 34°? I want to see how that predicts future home runs. BABIPs start to plummet once the launch angle goes over 27° degrees? Yup, let’s throw that into the mix. What about a player’s maximum exit velocity? Or the top 5% of his exit velocities? Let’s see if that adds value. Sprint speed? Oh yeah, that’s gotta’ be in there too.
What I finally arrived at was a brand new projection system based entirely on Statcast data. Stability and regression to the mean, weighing of multiple years of data, aging curves, the works. But because Statcast data gives us better insight into a hitter’s intentional process-level decisions (i.e. hitters essentially have the ability to decide what kind of swing plane they want), I didn’t want to treat this exactly the same as a normal projection. (Normally, we kind of look at what a hitter did last year, look at what he did the years before, give a bit of extra weight to the more recent data but more or less just split the difference.) No, I wanted to know if a hitter who changes his approach is more likely to maintain that approach going forward.
Are there certain players for which the most recent data matters more than it otherwise would? I’m not going to go into all of the secret sauce here, but it’s safe to say that there are indeed ways to project the continuance of an approach change, which is pretty damn fantastic. And it makes sense: if a player’s breakout is supported by peripherals, it should count more than if it didn’t, right? After all, he’s going to try to do the same thing again! The only appropriate name for this system, the only thing I could possibly think to call a projection system with THE BAT methodology and Statcast data, is… THE BATcast. I know; it’s pretty badass.
Of course, I didn’t stop there, because as great as Statcast data is, it’s not the whole story. Everything that goes into the Classic Version of THE BAT also has plenty of value, and so we really want both. That’s where THE BAT X comes in. I ran tests to find the optimal combination of THE BAT and THE BATcast to form a final projection: THE BAT X.
THE BAT Classic vs. THE BAT X
In theory (and according to back-tests I’ve run), THE BAT X is the best of the three systems. It should be, after all, since it starts with THE BAT and layers on valuable new information. We only have a few years of Statcast, though, and early years have some data missing. There’s also the issue of imputed data, which THE BATcast does its best to handle. Additionally, MLB is switching from Trackman to Hawkeye to track data this year, and there’s been some early speculation that, at first, Hawkeye could be “inconsistent and potentially faulty”, according to people Eno Sarris has spoken with. MLB insists it is an improvement, however, and I’m inclined to be optimistic. Still, overall, given the small-ish sample and the uncertainty of Hawkeye, I’m not ready to say “This is the new THE BAT” and throw the old projections away, especially when the Classic Version of THE BAT has performed so well for DFS players and in season-long accuracy contests (Ariel Cohen found it to be the best non-aggregate system he tested over the past two years; at FantasyPros, it was found to be the best non-aggregate system in 2018 and the third-best in 2019 of the dozen-plus systems they tested).
So I’m giving users both! You get access to both systems for one reasonable price. You can compare them, use just one, use both, or use them however you see fit!
Using THE BAT X for DFS
For the time being, THE BAT X only uses Statcast data for hitters. The pitcher version is still in development. It is more complex than projecting hitters since we have much more granular data to work with (i.e. pitch-level data like velocity, movement, spin, etc.), but that just means that it will be an even bigger upgrade than the hitting side once its released! When looking at THE BAT X’s pitcher projections at present, keep in mind that these projections are formed using THE BAT Classic underlying pitcher projections combined with THE BAT X underling hitter projections.
The other great thing about this upgrade is that it removes a lot of the guesswork! Previously, users of THE BAT may have seen other analysts saying things like, “You know Chad Pinder has a great Barrel% this year, so he’s way better now and is a strong DFS play today.” They’d look at his projection in THE BAT and say “Well, THE BAT isn’t accounting for barrels, maybe I should bump his projection up a bit.” Since THE BAT X now incorporates Barrels and everything else Statcast-related, we no longer have to make those kinds of guesses! THE BAT X already quantifies these things, so we’ll even be able to see when other analysts and players are overvaluing this new data, which I suspect happens quite a lot, while we give it just the right amount of weight.
More Information on THE BAT X
To read more about THE BAT X, check out my Twitter thread, my FanGraphs article, and my PitchCon presentation. Or feel free to ask me any questions you have! Learning as much as possible about the new system will allow you to better utilize it to win your DFS contests!
More Data from THE BAT X!
I’ve also made a ton of Statcast data from THE BATcast and THE BAT X available over at EV Analytics. You can view several of the most important underlying Statcast metrics for every player and every season, plus projected stats for this season! If you’re wondering why THE BAT X likes/dislikes a certain player, you can look at their metrics to see where they’ve done well/poorly. You can also see correlations between each metric and future performance to know which are the most predictive. I’m extremely proud of the tools I’ve created over there, and it’s all FREE!