Are the Power Bats Back?

Are the Power Bats Back?

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Are the Power Bats Back?

It is no secret that recently the University of Miami baseball team has lacked the power bat. Of course, with the ball being used the past several years, just about everyone has to some degree lacked power in the lineup. But Miami has been extremely short in the long ball category. The Canes have sparingly had the power hitter recently, such as Yasmani Grandal and Peter O’Brien, but the lineup as a whole, since 2008, has not been consistently a threat to go deep. Could this year be the season where that changes?

Enter a new baseball being used that is supposed to fly farther, and most teams should at least take a step forward in the power department. But also enter returnee, reigning freshman of the year Zack Collins, third team All-ACC Willie Abreu, and a healthy, coming off a strong Cape Cod performance, David Thompson, and the homeruns should certainly increase.

Collins knocked 11 homeruns last season, and this is after a horrific start to the season in which he found himself hitting below .100 after the first few weeks. He will be one of the supreme power hitters in the entire country this season. Abreu, who only hit one bomb last season, is expected to make a jump in the power department this year. Thompson, who battled injury last season and missed most of the year, did not hit any shots last season, but as a freshman hit six. A healthy Thompson could certainly see double-digit homeruns on the year.

Adding to this returning trio is third baseman George Iskenderian, who transfers from Indian River. Iskenderian is a physical third baseman that actually ended one of the intersquad games with a walk-off homerun. He should add some pop to the lineup. Coach Morris believes Jacob Heyward could make the biggest jump in power this year. Heyward only started 11 games last season and did not hit any homeruns, but was a power hitter in high school, and definitely has the physical build to become a deep threat.

Justin Smith is the incoming freshman most likely to provide power in the lineup. Smith is raw, which could mean we do not see much of that power this season, but at 6’2” 205, he certainly has the build to be a deep threat.

Even Garrett Kennedy, who has struggled offensively throughout his career at Miami, has shown a little power over the years. In fact, Kennedy hit both of his homeruns last season against nationally ranked Florida. In 2013, Kennedy hit three homeruns. It is unknown how much playing time Kennedy is going to receive with Collins also being a catcher, but maybe the senior Kennedy will provide much needed rest for Collins and provide a little power to the lineup.

Everyone is aware that Coach Morris loves small ball. It is almost automatic that if our leadoff hitter of the inning gets on base that the next hitter is laying down a sacrifice bunt. So it may be something of an anomaly to expect a huge increase in power numbers. But with the new ball, and the physical lineup that Miami is going to put out there each game, the numbers should certainly increase. The 3-4-5 hitters of Collins-Thompson-Abreu (whichever order they may be) should certainly be one of the most potent middle of the lineups in the country. Add that type of protection in the lineup, and hopefully guys like Heyward and Iskenderian see pitches that they can hit. The season is just around the corner, and remember…Chicks dig the long ball.
 

Comments (10)

Morris loves small ball, yet his teams consistantly can't bunt and make continual, bad Little League style baserunning errors.

The key feature of the Canes the last 8 years or so is awful baserunning and bunting. (besides terrible fielding and relief pitching)


:(
 
So 2 of the 3 guys in the middle of the lineup combined for one home run last year. Until proven otherwise, I expect lots of groundouts to shortstop.
 
The new baseball has lower seams, which during testing allowed baseballs to fly 20 feet further when placed in a pitching machine that simulated the angle and velocity of HR's. The reason why they decided to go with a completely new ball, rather than the minor league ball with the same seam dimensions is because the minor league ball has a more dense core which increases the exit velocity. This ball will not increase exit velocity, but the smaller seams reduce air drag and therefore, the longer the ball is aloft, the further the flight of the ball.

Preliminary estimates believe that this change in seams to the ball will results in as much as a 10% increase in scoring and a reduction in strikeouts due to the fact it will be more difficult to throw good breaking balls, as the grip will be harder to obtain and there will be less movement due to less friction on the seams as they spin towards the plate.

As a side note, I've built a database for ACC baseball that attempts to quantify the offensive performances of our players, the players in our league and what we can expect from the returnees and recruits using sabermetrics principles and DIPS theory for pitchers (Defense Independent Pitcher Statistics) evaluating the league based on its own run environment. This sort of thing may only interest me, but I'll post the results when they're complete.
 
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The new baseball has lower seams, which during testing allowed baseballs to fly 20 feet further when placed in a pitching machine that simulated the angle and velocity of HR's. The reason why they decided to go with a completely new ball, rather than the minor league ball with the same seam dimensions is because the minor league ball has a more dense core which increases the exit velocity. This ball will not increase exit velocity, but the smaller seams reduce air drag and therefore, the longer the ball is aloft, the further the flight of the ball.

Preliminary estimates believe that this change in seams to the ball will results in as much as a 10% increase in scoring and a reduction in strikeouts due to the fact it will be more difficult to throw good breaking balls, as the grip will be harder to obtain and there will be less movement due to less friction on the seams as they spin towards the plate.

As a side note, I've built a database for ACC baseball that attempts to quantify the offensive performances of our players, the players in our league and what we can expect from the returnees and recruits using sabermetrics principles and DIPS theory for pitchers (Defense Independent Pitcher Statistics) evaluating the league based on its own run environment. This sort of thing may only interest me, but I'll post the results when they're complete.
Excellent post right here, I really look forward to your future postings.
 
The new baseball has lower seams, which during testing allowed baseballs to fly 20 feet further when placed in a pitching machine that simulated the angle and velocity of HR's.
This will help us out for sure. We have had a bunch of deep fly balls that fell short at the warning track the past few years. Knowing that those should, on average, fly another 20 feet and be a HR is a big deal.

For other teams who had enough power to get the old ball out, the difference will be negligible. For teams like us--it will allow us to hang a few more points on the board.

Now, what worries me is the change in the seams not allowing breaking balls/off-speed stuff to be as effective. That will reward more power pitchers, of which, we don't have that many of. Those guys can keep the ball down and work vertical angles off of leverage. Smaller off-speed/breaking ball guys like what we normally get will be less effective.

So...it will likely be a give and take. We'll simply have to play better D in support of our pitchers, and hope that the (likely) increased offense is enough to carry us to a few more W's.
 
You are correct, this change will impact junk ballers with small hands more than anyone else.

Power pitchers with velocity and/or the ability to induce ground balls will become more valuable. Additionally, avoiding walks will become even more important for pitchers.

Many minor league pitchers like the minor league ball better as they feel they get a better grip due to the density. Two things make this different:

1. This ball isn't any more dense than before.

2. Pro pitchers tend to be bigger than college pitchers on average. Larger hands allow them to take advantage of the pros of the ball, while negating much of the negative.

As an aside, a lot of people don't realize an MLB ball is even more dense, with smaller seams than the minor league ball. A major league ball with fly a further distance with a higher exit velocity of any ball currently manufactured.
 
Well damn B-Rad got out at the perfect time....
 

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