Quality at Bats

By admin •  Updated: 06/03/14 •  10 min read

I have also never been a fan of the Batting Average, however, many live or die by it. This article brings up some valid points about the Quality At Bats stat. Another is an On-Base-Percentage and the first year kids in baseball, not tee-ball.

One of the leagues played near our house (non-traveling) had their Little League team ready to play in the state tournament and took a few decent pitchers and the rest were the best hitters they could find. Their mentality was to outscore them. They asked my neighbor’s son to play and he was one of the younger kids in the league. They let him play because in the 9-year-olds, he was a good hitter.

However, for this tournament for State, he was facing kids 10 years old and a little older. In the four games, he struck out 14 times, once was a hit batter and was outmatched. They went 0-4 and the coach was telling them he thought they were better than that before they were released after the last game.

They were outscored a total of 49-11 in those games and I asked for the score sheets and was given a copy of them. The father of the boy and I went over them and the strikeout comparison was more than 3 to 1 against in favor of his sons team. And yet, they went 0-4 in the games.

When I looked at the data before posting this and put it into a spreadsheet the Quality at Bats are a joke. When I put it into the ALLPRO Scorekeeper (I love to keep score) and analyzed them, it is a joke. First pitch takes, 72% strikes called, not swinging at 0-2, 2-2, 3-2 counts. Called third strikes and a throw to catch the runner trying to steal second and the list goes on and on. In that tournament, there was not one single bunt!!! They counted sacrifice flies, but based on the printouts the QABs were non-existent for the games.

So what is really a QAB? It was alluded to before in this article. One thing rarely included for little league is the pitch counts taken into consideration for QABs. What I thought was very unique was one of the kids on his team could hit very hard and was a monster in the box. The opposing coach came out and told the pitcher that nothing was over the plate, was low and outside and if he wanted a hit to make him chase it. That pitchers father and I work together as well.

His son was much smaller but would pitch to all sectors of the plate, high-low, in-out and keep them off balance. But what he did was pitch to the kids weakness in the batter’s box. I found out later the coach told his son to throw the first two outside. The first was fouled down first. The second was fouled back and the third was way inside, which made the batter mad because he wanted to “jack something.” He was your typical, hit the ball over the fence and jog around the bases hitter that every league has playing in it. The next pitch was slow and inside and the kid drilled it a mile foul. The count was still 1-2 and the kid threw the next high and inside and almost hit him in the helmet for a 2-2 count. I saw the catcher set up way outside and the batters team on the first base side were telling him low and away. The kid slid way over the box and waited. The pitch looked like a whiffle ball coming up so slow but was way outside for a 3-2 count. Then, the catcher told him, “No meat” and set way outside the plate and hit his mitt. The little pitcher threw his hardest pitch on the inside corner and he was caught looking. The batter and coach were so mad. Now, I ask you, is this a QAB?

Another thing I see is where a pitcher is too fast to hit and the batter barely makes contact for a dozen pitches before he strikes out, or gets on base. Which of these scenarios is a QAB? The strikeout was great with the big kid, but in the little leagues where they monitor the pitch count and may only get 50 pitches a game before they have to rest three days, the kid that fouls off 10 pitches has just eaten up 1/5 of that good pitchers total pitch count.

So for me, a QAB depends on the league, the situation and the resolution to the scenario but the QAB stats or Percentage can be very over rated and not indicative of the player if you ask me.

Comments for Quality at Bats

Jan 06, 2012

QABs (2 of 2)

by: P Flannery

(It all wouldn’t fit into one comment section)

I enjoy reading these posts and there are some great viewpoints on here. Another thing I failed to comment about was; What if bases are loaded and the batter crowds the plate and gets a HBP in the bottom of the last inning, the run will score – game over. If that kid went 0-3, with long flies or line drive outs the whole game but got a HBP and the winning run scored, do we call that a Quality-At-Bat? What about if he was hitting it hard, making contact but getting no hits? After he is a HBP the run scored, his team cheers him, but look at the batting stats, it is an “oh-for” kind of day and his average drops. In all probability his coach slides him down in the order or doesn’t play him until late in the innings. Whereas, a kid goes 1-3 and has a double as a hit, but whiffs on the other two at-bats may get moved up because his average went up.

The kid that lined the ball hard but it was caught has nothing other than a red mark where he was hit by pitch, forced the runner in which ended the game and a lower batting average to show for it. While the kid that whiffed but got a double goes 1-3 has his average for the day at .333 and it looks good on paper. Just food for thought, but what are everyone’s thoughts about this last scenario and I still think the HBP was a better QAB than the 1-3 day? Many people may disagree though?

Jan 06, 2012

QAB Response (1 of 2)

by: P Flannery

I apologize for the confusion and it was our town’s team that struck out at a worse ratio of 3 to 1. After I posted it, I noticed how it didn’t make sense, so thanks for letting me update that and thanks for the response. You read it correctly; I wrote it “bass ackwards.” The other teams had the better ratios.

I am not sure how many other people do it, but we all know people are creatures of habit, even kids. Even growing up, I would always watch the pitcher. The reason I did this was because unlike today where parents pay the money and kids are guaranteed to play, when I was growing up, you had to earn a starting spot. If you didn’t play well enough to start, you had to practice harder and if you finally got to play, it meant something. I was one of the kids who were smaller so had to learn skills with the rubber ball off the brick chimney, tosses off the roof to catch flyballs and when we finally got a pitching machine for our school would put the catcher’s gear on and have them skip the balls up to me to block them in front of me. This was all done in the “off-season” and on my own.

Eventually, I practiced long enough and was good enough to start Varsity as a Freshman and still tried to observe the opposing players. This isn’t scientific data, just my observations, but I will say that if you watch closely next year, that 75% or more of the pitches a pitcher throws warming up before the game and between innings, is what his first pitch in the inning will be. File that away just as an observable point for next year. Most of the kids who were consistent on the good teams were swinging at that first pitch.

When we think about it, you only get three strikes and when you let the first pitch go by you, you have to get a hit, a 50% chance of the next two strikes to be successful. I hear, “Take that first pitch to get your timing and that is fine, if you are on a batting machine.” Honestly, how many kids throw the same speed every pitch to the same location? I disagree with taking the first pitch but as soon as a ball is called it blows my theory up and the batter is ahead in the count. But when it is a strike, now the batter has to “get his timing” on a pitch that will probably not be the same speed or place. You make a great point about if that first pitch is a strike that IS a good pitch to hit and to go after the first pitch.

Jan 06, 2012

Re: Quality At Bats

by: Coach Henze

Great comment Mr. Flannery!

I was confused with a couple of your comments. Did your town’s team 3 times more than their opponents or vice versa? I read it as your team’s opponents struck out three times more than your team. If that is the case, the 0-4 record seems impossible. Maybe I read it wrong…

First Pitch Takes

I liked your stat about first-pitch takes… Most pitchers at any level LOVE to get ahead in the count and really want to throw a first-pitch strike. I instruct my players to be aggressive on the first pitch, especially if the opposing pitcher has shown a tendency to throw a strike on the first pitch. That might be the best pitch to hit!

Too many coaches equate being patient at the plate with taking the first pitch. My definition of being patient at the plate equates to waiting for a good pitch to hit. If that good pitch comes to me on the first delivery, I better be ready to put a quality swing on it!

If you let that first strike go by, you have now allowed the pitcher to dictate that at-bat. He can now throw any pitch he wants to keep you off balance and it is more difficult to succeed.

What Really is a QAB?

That is a great question! The reason I didn’t tell you exactly how to calculate it in the article is because it should really vary from level to level, team to team, player to player and maybe even at-bat to at-bat… Each coach should set up his criteria.

The point of the QAB stat is that the batter has a plan at the plate and executes that plan. Basically, did he help his team during the at bat? There are MANY ways to help your team during an at bat. The batting average cannot measure all of them. The batting average simply notes the percentage of times you get a “hit” during an at-bat.

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Thanks again for the great comment. Pass this article on to all of your friends and baseball acquaintances. Let’s get a good conversation going about this.