RevFire Training Device

Pitching Revolution

The RevFire is a new pitching training aid that is literally “revolutionary”—unlike a traditional radar gun, it measures ball spin in rotations per second, in addition to forward speed.

Former Division 1 hurler Kristi Spielman,a fastpitch instructor for the past 12 years, decided to see what all the hype was about by taking it for a test drive. She not only found it invaluable in teaching movement pitches to her students, but believes it mayhelp promote proper biomechanics and even reduceinjuries. Read Kristi's in-depth review of the RevFire in Softball Notebook.


Is Slugging Percentage Relevant?

Power Hitting May Not Be as Important as You Think 

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN

LOMBARD - We all know that a home run is better than a base hit.  A double and triple are better than a base hit, too.  And players who can hit for extra bases or hit balls out of the park consistently are generally thought to be better and more valuable players than singles hitters.  But how much more valuable are they?

The stat "slugging percentage" is supposed to help quantify not only a player's batting average, but how often they hit extra base hits.  You calculate slugging percentage by adding (1B + 2x2B + 3x3B + 4xHR)  and dividing by total at-bats.  So extra base hits help inflate a player's slugging percentage more than just hitting singles.

For example, Kelly Kretschman of the USSSA Pride currently has a .489 batting average but a .804 slugging percentage because she hits a fair amount of extra base hits and home runs.  Seventeen of her 45 hits this season have been doubles or better. 

Her teammate Hallie WIlson has a .324 batting average and only a .380 slugging percentage, because only 5 of her 35 hits have been doubles or better.

Sabremetricians have long touted slugging percentage as a better way to measure the value of a player than batting average, because batting average does not take into account a player's power numbers.  Should we ditch batting average and switch to slugging percentage? 

I expect that slugging percentage will have a much higher correlation to win percentage than mere batting average.  Teams with the highest power numbers should win more games, right?  

To test this theory, I compared the batting averages and slugging percentages of the top 100 of NCAA teams to their win percentage.  Correlations are measured on a scale of 0 to 1; 0 means no correlation and 1 means a perfect correlation.  What I found when I measured these numbers surprised me: 


I expected a much higher correlation between slugging percentage and win percentage, but the truth is it was barely higher than the correlation between batting average and win percentage.  The correlation is 0.525 for batting average and 0.612 for slugging percentage.  The difference is only .087 of a percentage point, or a 16% difference. 

The data indicates that, while power is a little more important than just getting a hit, it is not as important as you might think.  The ability to make solid contact and find gaps in the defense is what is really important, not how many bases the hit results in.  

So batting average still has a prominent place among the stats we use to judge our best hitters.  It is not time to abandon batting average for slugging percentage quite yet. 

And for all you young hitters out there, stop swinging for the fences! Look at the data and discover that getting the ball in play is what counts—finding a place for it to drop on the field is basically as important as hitting the ball hard!  Read more.




Go Light in the On-deck Circle!

Warming Up with Weighted Bats May Slow You Down

Grabbing two or three bats—or swinging a weighted device like a batting donut—may make your game bat feel as light as a feather, but does it really increase your bat velocity? Research suggests that warming up with over-weighted bats may actually slow you down, by fatiguing your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Read more.


Monica Abbott's K Factor

How Does It Compare to the Finch Windmill?

Fastpitch softball is a game heavily dependent on pitching, and the hurlers occupying the circle seem to get better and better. One reason may be improved training techniques, including the use of resistance devices specifically designed to strengthen the arm muscles used in pitching. The Finch Windmill—invented by Jennie Finch’s father Doug—was the first such device to burst onto the scene, and now Jennie’s Olympic teammate Monica Abbott is promoting a comparable product called the K Factor. Although similar, the two devices are not the same. Read more.

Does Beaning Batters Lose Games?

Intentionally Hitting a Batter May Not Affect Victory 

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN

LOMBARD – Intentionally hitting batters has a special place among the unwritten rules of professional baseball.  If you slide too hard into the 2nd base, if you showboat after a big hit, or if you accidentally "plunk" the other team's best player, the other team's pitcher is guaranteed to retaliate by intentionally hitting you with a pitch. 
I cannot even imagine how much it must hurt to get hit with a 90-mph fastball, but unwritten rules in professional baseball regarding when to intentionally hit opposing players have been around for decades and are not going anywhere.  And they serve a valuable purpose: they keep players in line and help enforce the MLB players' code of conduct.
These unwritten rules regarding intentionally hitting batters don't really exist in softball.  Perhaps it's because softball doesn't have the same issues with showboating or sliding too hard, or perhaps it's because in a typically low scoring "small ball"-type game, a team simply cannot afford to give up a baserunner—even if it means losing an enforcement tool.
But what if I told you plunking batters has no effect on win percentage?  Maybe then the "softball sorority" could rethink its stance on intentionally hitting batters, maybe even incorporate it into play.  Hit batters certainly add a new and exciting element to baseball.  Why shouldn't it be part of softball too?
To determine the effect hitting batters has on win percentage, I constructed a correlation table of 2017 NCAA softball statistics pitting hit batters versus winning percentage.

A perfect correlation is scored as a 1.0.  If there is no correlation it is a 0.0.  A 0.5 correlation is in the middle.  My data shows a meager 0.05 correlation between these data sets, ie, virtually no correlation between the number of hit batters and the team's win percentage.  So hitting a lot of batters has no impact on the number of games you win.
So softball is not so much of a small ball game that you cannot sacrifice a baserunner to enforce a players' code of conduct.  If more players knew that plunking a batter won't affect their win percentage, maybe they would be more likely to do it if warranted.
It's time softball uncovered the benefits of enforcing a players' code by intentionally hitting more batters!  The data supports this!  Read more


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