The Smash Factor
Fun with


As the site mulled the various off season adds, Rick stated that Stubbs was his hoss.  This set me about thinking about some sort of stat that wasn't affected by Coors field so I could mull whether I liked Stubbs or not.  Both zone discipline and speed off bat stats are affected by Coors, as off speed pitches curve less in Coors, and are easier to square up, but these stats are as park and league independent as any that I know about.

Since Hittracker online is fun, (check it out if you haven't yet done so), I decided to peruse it to learn what there was to learn about Dew Stubbs.  This morphed into the following article:


Moe talks alot about smash factor.  That is loosely defined as the maximum amount of blunt force trauma that can be delivered to a ball, when it is hit on the screws.  ESPN's Hit Tracker online is a small public taste of the Pitch Fx Kool Aid, where every home run since 2006 is catalogued, and charted by speed off bat, distance and and angle of launch.  The undisputed king of Hit Tracker is Giancarlo Stanton, who hits the most balls the hardest every year that he plays.  Stanton's best hits top out at 117-118 miles per hour off the bat and approach 500 feet.  In looking at Stanton's numbers, 17 of his homeruns were hit harder than 105 miles per hour.  Stanton's competitors for the smash factor crown are guys like David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Trout.  While SF is one factor out of many, it might be useful to look at the Mariners' level of SF or lack thereof.  I collected every home run hit harder than 105 miles per hour in 2014 for the Mariners and most of our possible trade targets.  Why 105 miles per hour?  I don't know.  That seemed like a good number, as it generally represents a homerun in the most pitcher friendly parks, even Safeco.   Here are the results:

Date     Player Distance MPH off bat
6/29/2014 Video View Cano, Robinson 384 107.1
6/11/2014 Video View Cano, Robinson 400 106.8
4/17/2014 Video View Cano, Robinson 388 106.7
4/27/2014 Video View Seager, Kyle 395 106.2
6/24/2014 Video View Seager, Kyle 403 105.8
6/30/2014 Video View Saunders, Michael 417 109.2
5/29/2014 Video View Saunders, Michael 376 105.2
4/14/2014 Video View Zunino, Mike 431 106.8
7/7/2014 Video View Zunino, Mike 403 106.8
6/25/2014 Video View Zunino, Mike 384 108.6
6/22/2014 Video View Zunino, Mike 418 105.4
6/20/2014 Video View Zunino, Mike 430 108.9
6/23/2014 Video View Morrison, Logan 431 105.2
6/20/2014 Video View Morrison, Logan 405 112.6
5/3/2014 Video View Smoak, Justin 403 110.1
5/10/2014 Video View Ackley, Dustin 391 104.9
4/8/2014 Video View Hart, Corey 413 110.2
4/1/2014 Video View Miller, Brad 427 112.3
6/30/2014 Video View Miller, Brad 394 109.1
4/5/2014 Video View Almonte, Abraham 419 106.4
6/7/2014 Video View Gillespie, Cole 429 105.9
6/11/2014 Video View Willingham, Josh 410 109.8
5/29/2014 Video View Willingham, Josh 446 109.5
6/1/2014 Video View Willingham, Josh 412 106.6
5/30/2014 Video View Willingham, Josh 416 106.4
6/24/2014 Video View Stubbs, Drew 446 108.3
7/7/2014 Video View Stubbs, Drew 379 106.6
4/29/2014 Video View Stubbs, Drew 399 105.3
6/18/2014 Video View Byrd, Marlon 435 111.8
6/24/2014 Video View Byrd, Marlon 416 107.7
4/10/2014 Video View Byrd, Marlon 407 107.1
6/20/2014 Video View Byrd, Marlon 379 107.1
5/22/2014 Video View Byrd, Marlon 442 106.6
6/29/2014 Video View Byrd, Marlon 435 105.2
7/1/2014 Video View Quentin, Carlos 410 107
5/26/2014 Video View Viciedo, Dayan 429 108.8
7/7/2014 Video View Viciedo, Dayan 425 106.2
6/28/2014 Video View Viciedo, Dayan 416 105.7
5/16/2014 Video View Dunn, Adam 444 113.7
7/7/2014 Video View Dunn, Adam 418 112
4/22/2014 Video View Dunn, Adam 417 110
5/23/2014 Video View Dunn, Adam 435 107.4
4/3/2014 Video View Dunn, Adam 386 106.8
6/4/2014 Video View Dunn, Adam 401 106.5
4/24/2014 Video View Dunn, Adam 419 104.5

Our best SF home run hitter is Mike Zunino.  Whatever his offensive shortcomings may be, hitting like a feeb is not among them.  We already knew that though.  Miller, Lomo, Smoak and Hart are the only guys who flash double digit speed off bat.  This tells me that SF isn't everything, even if I am convinced it is something.  

For the trade target smash factor test, I did Zobrist, Dunn, Viciedio, Quentin, Byrd, Stubbs and Willingham.  Zobrist's readings were too faint to be detected by the bash-o-tron.  He's just not that kind of hitter.  The SF king of possible trade targets is Adam Dunn.  His SF has translated into a .798 OPS in US Cellular, or a 122 OPS+.  He is a free agent after this year, and he would probably love to add post season heroics to his resume.  Dunn would be a nice add.  Big Donkey doesn't really field or run or do anything other than DH though, so it is unlikely we are going to go there.  We already have LoMo, Smoak, Hart and Montero vying for the DH slot.  Wait.  None of those guys should feel real secure about their jobs.  If Dunn is available, and doesn't cost us DJ Peterson or someone, we should collect him.

Byrd, Stubbs, Viciedio and Willingham also provide nice smash factor.  And, they can play the field, (maybe not Viciedio), where they are competing with the likes of Dustin Ackley and Endy Chavez.   Any of those guys would be a good get, but the Coors and NL transitions are always suspect.

If you want a hitter you know is going to do above average, and isn't going to cost the farm, WIllingham and Dunn seem like good choices.  They both hit in the AL Central, the division that has Detroit in it, and they both hail from pitcher's parks.  That means no adjustment period, just plug and play.  Like an iPhone.  From what I understand playoff teams and their fans are not into uncertainties, try outs and adjustment periods.  Those things are best reserved for teams that are rebuilding.




Excellent stuff:  I would swap out Hart for Dunn in a moment.  
Over the winter I thought Stubbs would be a great addition because he has 3-positional OF leather and beats up lefties.  Didn't know he hit the ball so hard, though.  Grichuk/Suza/Lake are all Stubbs or better, I think.
In golf, Smash Factor is the multiple of swing speed that the ball leaves the club face.  If a guy swings at 100 MPH and the ball leaves at 120, you have a smash factor of 1.2.  Swing at 110MPH and have the  ball leave at 143 your SF is 1.3.  
It measures efficiency.
Your data is very cool.  Who hits the ball especially hard?  In Safeco, that's a big deal.  The Miller #'s are really neat. He has the 2nd hardest hit homer for the M's this year.  Hold onto that guy.


As you point this out, Mojo, it strikes me that you could fairly easily "project" a distance based on (1) MPH and (2) launch angle.  
Then you could create a "carry index" for every park and of course Safeco -- at least in April and May, at least in certain directions -- would be among the worst HR parks in the league.
Bet you dollars to donuts that ML teams have this info.
"Crushed HR" stats do not factor in --- > how many times a sloppy curve ball was hung to Marlon Byrd, for example.  But, as you know, no stat is perfect.
What is interesting, is the guys who have LOW crushed HR numbers, such as Kyle Seager.  He's a smaller guy who, as we opined early on, has a special talent for pulling the ball in the air.  It isn't strength with him; it's the ability to get horsepower to the back wheels.
This stat is worthy of a personal patent -- I hope you'll revisit.
Has me re-thinking Josh Willingham, who I've never been particularly warm towards.  Big Donkey, I have been.  :- )   Wonder where the M's are, w/r/t Adam Dunn.


We need no stats to recognize his awesome power, that's fo' sho' ...
Problemo is, the last four (4) years he's fallen off the table ... Shandler says "don't be fooled by 3 shocking months of production in 2013" as he should have retired long ago and "now teams may force his hand" and tear the jersey off his back...
True 'nuff, his OPS+ is 122 at the moment, but his SLG is only .437 and it's not clear to me what he's got left in the tank ... one thing is for sure, the National League Adam Dunn (2004-10) is long gone...
Good stuff Counsela' :- )


Guy has a lot of "Crushed HR's".  A piece of evidence that goes against my eye that he has "garden-variety corner OF" throughspeed, probably.
The M's continue to be rumored as seeing Byrd as their solution.  No doubt their internal "speed off bat" data is part of that.  Time for a level 201 scan?


He's now only the Fairly Large Donkey.
But his OBP of .360+ and his Slg% of .437 sure kick the snot out of the .289 and .339 that Corey Hart puts up.


You got me there.  I'm picking up my ball.  What's the max?  8?


There is a physics formula to calculate distance if you know speed and trajectory.  It is: distance equals the velocity squared in feet per second times the sine (opposite angle of the vlaunch degree in a right triangle) time 2 times the launch degree all over 32 feet per second squared.  
You don't have to buy a scientific calculator to make this useful to you, you just have to memorize the good trajectories from the following chart:
The optimal flight angle for achieving maximum distance is 45 degrees.  

Thanks to Wikipedia.  I'm sure they won't mind.
The money trajectory for baseball is 30 degrees.  It carries 87 percent of the distance as a 45 degree parabola with only 70 percent of the hang time.  Hang time isn't such a big deal if you're hitting home runs, but it makes all of the difference in the world if you are hitting your balls to right field and Ichiro is playing.  
Here are Seager's home runs:
MPH off bat
launch Angle
Gorgeous line drives, every last one.   Those are just the home runs.  We've been scouting Seager and a lot of his doubles are done just the same way. Question: Has anyone ever seen Seager hit a can of corn fly ball?  Does that happen?  Is it too late to get this guy on the ballot for President?  


Will mark it down as an 8.
Winning that hole means I'm only 5 down with 6 to go!  :)


Really cool Moj.  James Bond or Steve McQueen cool.
This is the kind of stuff I thought must exist out there because it surely does for golf.
Spin rate has a huge impact in golf, too.  a 150 MPH golf ball, launched at 14 degrees will carry 241 yards if it is spinning at 1500 RPM (t slow) and 240 yards if it is spinning at 4000 RMP (too fast) but will carry 251 yards at 2900 RPM's.
That's about a 4% difference if you optimize spin rates, too.  4% of a 380 ft fly ball is 15 ft.  I've wondered aloud if spin dooms Justin Smoak. 
I actually found a study done by the University of Illinois that looks at this subject; Baseball spinrate, launch angle and total carry.
fig. 8 shows the total carry distance for 3 different spin rates at different launch angles. As best as I can tell, a ball launched at a 30 degree angle with 1000 RPM travels 10-12 ft farther than one with 2000 RPM and about 40 ft further than one with no spin.  Spin rates off the bat were not found to be highly dependent on pitched ball spin rates, btw. For baseball's useage, what needs to be determined is the effect of bat weight (or swing speed) on spin rate. 
But back to Seager.  He is exactly what Bill James was writing long ago about: A fly ball hitter who pulls it a bunch. Let's keep him. 


See yer next year.  Maybe.
In the meantime, you and Moe might wish to put up articles that --- > apply this to this-or-that Mariner player, at least w/r/t HR tracker.
:: golfclap ::
PS you like 30 degrees more than 35?  That extra distance is the warning track...  vs 10% more hang time ... hmmm...  
Point stands w/r/t Seager's line-shot homers, though.  That's what they said about Joe DiMaggio.


Do they do it with a super high speed camera, or inject a tiny gyroscope and computer into a golf ball?  Wouldn't the itty bitty computer get smashed with smash factor?  
I've heard rumors that Raul Ibanez put a favorable spin on his hits, but these are some of the secret things that we aren't allowed to know about in baseball.  It really begs the question of what spin data is out there, and what else we don't know.  That site was really cool.  There is an Excel baseball projection calculator on it that looks like it takes about a month to figure out.  The baseball calculator takes air resistance and magnus force into account as well as angle and trajectory.  You just plug in what you know, and it figures out the rest for you.  I wish he made a version for dummies without all the variables.  We need a non PhD version.


Be they line drive hitters like Cano and Seager, or towering fly ball home runs like. . .well the Mariners don't have anyone like that, but if they did, I wouldn't bash him.  A-Rod hit a lot of those 45 degree moon shots. Its just speculation, but if you are set up for perfect 45 degree mortar shots, and you are off a little bit, then you are more prone to a can of corn situation.  If a launch angle is at all higher than 45 degrees, distance drops off quickly and hang time increases quickly.  Whereas, if you are dialed in as a line drive hitter, and you don't do something optimal, its still often a nice hit.  I don't know the difference between 30 to 35 degrees.  Both are highly desirable.  Its like Moe's debate with the Uptons.  


Super high speed cameras measure spin rate at launch.  Of course, it slows down during the flight.  
There was lots in that site that was way beyond my pay grade.  I cherry picked the stuff I could understand pretty readily.
Does a lighter bat with more swing speed impart more or less spin to a ball?  I have no idea.  Maybe it has no impact.  But if it does then there is some ability to "tweak" a bat just as golfers tweak a driver.  
Seager's tater with the lowest launch angle was 24.9.  His "moon shot" was about 36.  I would bet that almost all homers fall into those parameters.  80%-90% would be a decent guess.
Guys like Seager, when they hit it in the air to the pull field they have nutted it.  But something goes amiss with a guy like Smoak.  Clearly he has the strength to whack 'em out but he either doesn't square the ball (losing ball speed....this is what Smash Facton in golf measures) or he doesn't swing the bat as fast or he's got some spin issues.
Is there a site that measures swing speed.  You would really need to look at maximum swing speed where you guess fastball and turn it loose on a fastball AND average swing speed, which may impacted on pitch recognition.  If you are way ahead of a curve ball you are decelerating (or trying to ) to get bat on ball.


If a guy has:
a high grounder rate, yet
a good HR rate, along with
a tennis-racket style overbite on his followthrough (all three of which Ibanez had)....
you're pretty likely to be watching his liners "inexplicably" drop in front of OF's from Dr. D's perch in the third deck :- )
The two guys with the M's, right now, who are closest to Ibanez this way are Cano and LoMo ... another good reason to spend $240M and/or powerflush the Smoakamotive...
As Blowers has aptly put it, Logan Morrison has a big three weeks coming, and he thinks they're coming soon.  LoMo has not been rewarded for his very fine work in the batter's box.


Very interesting to me that Smoak shows up in your chart only once, but at 110 which is faster than any of Cano's, Seager's, Saunders' and even Zunino's.
It seems like Smoak the hitter is like Maurer the starter.  The elements are there, but something is keeping them from being converted into success.  Maurer goes to the pen and -- poof! -- what wasn't working is suddenly working.  
Maybe something with the weight of his bat, as one of you has suggested.
Jose Bautista was a decent hitter until age 29 when he made a mechanical change and became an MVP.  Using your tool, I can see that he went from an average of 103 to 106 that year, and he's held the extra oomph.  Smoak has been stuck around 103 his whole career.
Wonder what it would take to get Smoak to 106?


Just doing some quick work on Byrd.
It looks like his speed off the bat has not gone up during his power surge.  It's been 103-104 average, about as it had been before.  And it was 106 in 2009 when he was a more "complete" hitter.
But the launch angle seems to be key, as I think it was Jeff Sullivan's article pointing out.  
In 2009 he had only two HR with angle over 30 degrees (of 20).  In 2013 it was 10 of 24.  So far this year, 7 of 18.
Fascinating stuff.


10+ years ago Golf Digest (IIRC) did a story on the impact of driver length on total carry distance.  As lighter and lighter materials came out (platics/graphites for the shaft, titanium for the head, even grips became lighter) you could lengthen the driver WITHOUT increasing overall weight and perhaps even decreasing it.  When I grew up almost all drivers were 43.5 inches.  Today the standard on the tour is 44.5 and the industry standard (for drivers sold to the masses) is 45-45.5!
You would assume that a longer lighter lever, swung faster, would result in longer drives for all.  But that wasn't the case.  Many run of the mill golfers actually saw a decrease in average total carry with the longer drivers (48 inches is the legal limit).  What happened was that even though they were swinging the longer lighter tool faster, they were not squaring the ball up as regularly and they lost distance.
I've always thought Smoak swung a bat that was too long for him.  Would a shorter bat result in more "nutted" fly balls....and that extra 15 ft of carry?
I know that this is golfy, but the same principal applies to baseball.  Given the opportunity to swing longer drivers, the best golfers in the world generally refuse to.  They know the key to distance is the ability to "smash" the ball, squaring it up.

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