Monday, January 4, 2010

Hill, Lind and Snider: Toronto's Young Guns


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If the Blue Jays are going to have a fighting chance in 2010 and beyond, they are going need their young guns to deliver. Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, and Travis Snider are undoubtedly the pillars of the offensive charge moving forward for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Combined, these young guns accounted for 38 percent of all home runs hit by the Blue Jays in 2009. If their success is going to continue, all three must continue to perform well - and that includes the ability to take any pitcher out of the yard.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what the home run distribution was like for Aaron Hill, Adam Lind and Travis Snider inside the Rogers Centre and on the road. There really isn't a lot of analyzing to do here, but it's interesting to see where the majority of their home runs landed.


If it seemed like a lot of Aaron Hill's home runs barely cleared the left field wall, it's because they did. Hill only ever once hit one over the fence anywhere than left field, and most of them were relatively shallow.


Travis Snider, on the other hand, showed some pop and went opposite field numerous times at home in 2009. Distribution is about even from left to right field, which is very promising for Snider.


When it comes to the Adam Lind data, it's easy to see why he's such a versatile hitter. He has power to all parts of the field, even dead centre field on multiple occasions. Lind could easily take almost any pitch and deposit it over the fence in any part of the ballpark.

Home Run Data courtesy of Hit Tracker, hat tip to Camden Crazies and Capital Avenue Club for the heads up, and big thanks to Clem's Baseball for the ballpark dimensions.

14 comments:

  1. Ian, great post. Hill's clearly a pull-hitter, but hey, it's all good. I don't think we should expect 36 home runs from him every year, and if he only hits 20 this coming season, while walking a fuck-ton more, I'll be very, very happy. And if he continues to swat, while hitting .286, and OPSing .829, I'll be very happy with that, too.

    As Drew pointed out with Snider, it's the opposite field home runs that really make you believe Snider has a bright future. Lunchbox!!!1

    As for Lind, that distribution chart is a bloody thing of beauty. I want to frame it, and hang it on my wall. Lind can beat you using any part of the field, with power. How many guys can say that? I can't wait for spring training.

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  2. I guess we can't really complain about Aaron Hill hitting so many to left field, so long as they clear the fence! You're right - he is a career pull hitter actually, if you take a look at his 2007 and 2006 plots, it's more of the same.

    Every time Travis Snider hits a home run to the opposite field, an angel gets its wings.

    And Adam Lind is a beast - enough said.

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  3. Great Post!

    You've put in to graph form my optimism for Snider and Lind, while also identifying my pessimism for Hill. I still think Hill will have a good year, but his value is at an all time high at the moment.

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  4. Peter, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Unfortunately, I think Hill is set in his ways and there's no getting around that he can't hit opposite field.

    Like eyebleaf alluded to above, the area that Hill really needs to work on this winter is drawing a walk every once in a while. The Jays need the guys at the top of the lineup to have an OBP higher than .330.

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  5. My concern is not necessarily that Hill is a pull hitter, it's the percentage of Home Runs that were greater than 400 feet. Judging by your results, the following appears to be the % for of home runs hit that are greater than 400ft in distance for each player:

    Hill - 22.2%
    Lind - 51.4%
    Snider - 55.5%

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  6. Peter, just out of curiosity I did the math any only 28 % of Hill's HR's sailed further than 400 feet. I also added up the totals, and here is how far the average home run went for Hill, Lind and Snider.

    AVG HR Distance:

    Hill - 387.1
    Lind - 398.1
    Snider - 399.66

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  7. Hands up if you give a shit how far the ball goes if it's a home run?

    That's what I thought.

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  8. Good point, my friend - unless it's in the 500's!

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  9. Ian and Peter - could be Peter missed that there are two very close dots, which look like one.
    In any case, interesting stuff Ian. Hill kept saying during '09 that he is not a homerun hitter, and I think he's right (at least, not a typical 30 HR guy). As he doesn't walk much, it might be interesting to see how often he went deep on fastballs, but got swinging strikes ahead of the ball. I think he was locked-in to hitting certain pitches, but couldn't lay off or adjust either. Would also be worth seeing how his total hit range is -- I didn't think he was a pull hitter, just that he can't hit it out unless he pulls it. Thankfully, Lind and Snider do not have that problem.

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  10. How far the balls travel for Hills home runs are a good indicator of what we can expect next season. Yes you can't take away any home runs hit last year, but if only 28% of Hill's home runs were greater than 400 ft, this means that his total number of home runs could be a fluke and/or, if he loses just the slightest bit of power, those balls won't be going over the wall.

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  11. QJays, there was a post I did back in July or so talking about Hill's flaws at the plate. I think his high HR count had a lot to do with swinging at the first or second pitch. In 2009, he swung at the first pitch 35% of the time.

    If you want to see what his hit range was, just check out his Hit Chart.

    Peter, that's a very valid point. Say if Hill tweaks his swing ever so slightly, and that could affect his HR total by 10 or more (just guesstimating). I'm thinking that Hill will really come back down to earth this year, and might only crack 20 HR or so.

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  12. Great post Ian. I'm just hoping that 2010 is the year the real Travis Snider shows up. He has looked awesome for stretches. If Hill cools a little in the HR category but keeps hitting, Adam Lind keeps being Adam Lind and Travis Snider hits for a full season, I think the future will be arriving sooner than AA expected.

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  13. Well 380 down the line is a lot better than 400 to straightaway centre. A better measure of risk of HR loss might be average clearance distance of his homeruns.

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  14. Mattt, expectations will be high for Snider once again. I hope he can keep it together and that he doesn't get sent back down to the minors.

    Anon, Hill's AVG HR distance was 387 feet, which is more than enough to clear the LF wall.

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