Launch Angle Strategies

Launch Angle is one of the newest Statistic that many people in the public as well as inside of MLB Front Offices are looking at. Feels like it has been around for decades, but in terms of other stats it is only in its infancy. Launch Angle and Exit Velocity have both spurred many coaches who are “Old School” Vs. “New Age”. Players and coaches are now talking about whether or not they personally think that the statistic is worth while, and many people around social media are diving into the information to seek answers.

Personally I love Launch Angle. I love just about everything about. Diving through Baseball Savant to figure out if players are using the information effectively. Trying to see which players can benefit from increased angles, and even diving into whether players have adapted to the changes that have occurred in today’s game. It seems as though today’s hitters have changed for the better, using the technology to their advantage. Today’s game requires players to be able to elevate the baseball into the air, and do so with authority.

So much as I love Launch Angle after reading a couple of really interesting articles from FanGraphs about Updating the Language of Hitting, and Reverse Engineering the Swing, it got me thinking about how the most under talked about aspect of hitting in dugout, and Social Media has to be about Attack Angle. I am guilt of it, and so are many others. Attack Angle to the baseball maybe the key to adjusting players swings to effectively get the baseball into the air more often. So many players have been taught to “Chop Wood” that I started to think about how many coaches talk about swinging up. Attack Angle in my mind is just that.

To be straightforward Attack Angle, and Approach Angle both effect the Launch Angle of the hit. It makes the most sense to design these backwards as we start to develop hitters. If we are looking for a 30 degree Launch Angle, then we should be looking to create an attack angle of around 18 degrees. Honestly I can’t wait to see what comes from this as I begin to dive into the Attack Angle of the batters that we work with.

Attack Angle is the Degree of the bat as it approaches contact. Basically a flat swing would equal 0 degrees. Alan Nathan points out that the optimum Attack Angle for a batter is 18 degrees on a fastball. See below:

OK so you want to swing up. As I sit here with very little technology to effectively track and analysis Launch Angle and Exit Velocity effectively. I have for a long time considered which technologies might be most effective to purchase to begin to look at some form of data driven Baseball Training. Yes I use a lot of data and technology to learn and share out what we have learned at Baseball EDU, but I want more. After slowly considering the events, information, and studying the technologies I can say that the most effective technology on a budget to get and use to begin this process is going to be a bat sensor.

The reasoning behind this is that without spending thousands of dollars to gather as much information as I can to study the effects of the swing, I want to go right back to where it all begins which is that actual swing of the player. I want to dive all the way back to Attack Angle, and Approach Angle to begin to look at the effects of both of these on the swing.

By focusing on a positive attack angle in the swing we are pushing players to better elevate the baseball, and it allows us an easy way to quantify the swings that players make. Before we begin to invest in many other gadgets and technologies I feel that it is important to focus on the swing which starts everything in baseball. By training players to have a positive approach angle on all different pitches we allow ourselves to begin to change, and train players to hit the baseball into the air.