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Mike Fast, HITf/x, and Quality of Contact

Like the pitch tracking system PITCHf/x, there's a system that tracks the flight paths of batted balls. It's called HITf/x, and while there are no current plans to publicly release the data like its pitching counterpart, a few lucky people have gotten their hands on a taste. Mike Fast, a fantastic Baseball Prospectus writer, recently published two articles using a whole year's worth of HITf/x data from 2008 to make tremendous insights into pitchers and their ability to control the quality of contact they induce from batters. In 1999, Voros McCracken launched the entire field of defense-independent statistics by arguing that pitchers have very little control over quality of contact, and that any measurement of results on batted balls includes so much luck that it's more accurate just to throw the whole lot out. Here, Fast very persuasively argues that with HITf/x, we have the technology to measure that skill.

Click to read (part one, part two). It's long and intensive, but well worth the time. This might be the sabermetric article of the year, and I'd absolutely love to see what Fast does with the data set next.