Value of Quality over Quantity
by Jeff Kamrath (@GCSports)
Didn’t your mom or dad ever tell you, life is more about “quality over quantity?”
Mine did, every day it seemed. But for a long time, this basic tenet of life was lost on me. Perhaps I was dense or dropped on my head as a child. I mean, who can tell me eating a dozen glazed donuts isn’t as healthy as munching on a salad or that the ‘Rocky’ franchise would have been better off without Rocky V and Tommy Gunn?
However, over the years, you begin to realize certain things, like: don’t stick a fork in an electrical socket, your parents DO know every trick in the book, it’s never a good idea to eat the yellow snow and that batting averages don’t always tell the entire story about a player.
Quality At-Bats (QAB) – At-bats in which the batter is productive in a way that fits the situation, whether that involves advancing the runner with a sacrifice bunt or even a ground ball out, getting on base, or making the pitcher throw a lot of pitches. Thus, quality at-bats are not measured simply by the standard batting statistics such as batting average, on-base percentage, or slugging percentage, but by stats that show productivity regardless of result.
Focus on productive stats instead of batting average
In baseball and softball, we often get caught up looking at stats from the wrong perspective. We can be bogged down by so many innocuous stats that we feel like we can solve nuclear physics equations, recite 100 decimal figures of the number Pi, but somehow can’t figure out why “Tommy” or “Susie” are battling with the Mendoza Line. And while hitting .800 in Little League won’t get you into the Hall of Fame, it might earn you a nice golf clap. As baseball and softball people, we have a hard time not judging a given player by their batting average when we should be focused more on the process and development which produces those averages.
Enter Quality At-Bats (QAB). College programs and MLB organizations have used QABs to measure the development and value of players for years. At GameChanger, we use QABs to not only determine the development of each individual player but also to display the success for that young player.
QAB percentages are a subset of stats that can be utilized by a coach to demonstrate why a player is or isn’t experiencing success. Smaller goals of extending a 2-strike at-bat for another 3 pitches or having at at-bat of 6 or more pitches can wear down an opposing pitcher for the next hitter while adding to pitch count. Another stat, Hard Hit Balls (HHB) also helps to determine the ability of a hitter to have a good process and approach at the plate, despite the outcome of the at-bat.
- Hard Hit Ball (HHB)
- Extra Base Hits (XBH)
- 6+ pitches seen in an at-bat (6+%)
- 3+ pitches seen after 2 strikes (2S+3%)
- Sac Bunt (SAC)
- Sac Fly (SF)
- Walk (BB)
Combine QAB stats with coaching philosophy
By focusing on the process or quality of a hitters approach vs. the number of reps taken in practice, coaches can help young players create better habits and muscle memory. Too often, young players lack the focus or discipline to slow down and work on the process of developing proper technique and thought process. Rather, they see value in taking a high number reps in practice, without being mindful of what their goals or areas focus should be. As a coach, utilizing QAB percentages and combining that data with proper coaching can prove to be a valuable coaching tool for young developing players.
Two-time Manager of the Year Joe Maddon
With GameChanger, young players have the ability to view their success rate in the comprehensive and individual QAB stat categories throughout the season. With proper coaching, these players can have a plan of attack to target a specific weakness or highlight a strength in their game. For example, simply trying to raise your average from .250 to .300 might seem impossible without any context given by a coach. But, if your coach was implementing a training regimen with the goal of trying to extend at-bats and go deeper into the count, while being prepared to adopt a 2-strike approach to spoil tough strikeout pitches, eventually, that philosophy will pay off over time. Not only will you begin to raise your individual QAB stat categories, but you will also begin to see improvements in your batting average as a result.
While QABs are not an exact science (there is no standard value), they give players smaller, more manageable goals that help to build confidence and provide a fun experience for players of all ability levels.
To be continued next week with QAB Differentials. Team QABs vs. your opponent and what that means to your W-L record.
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