Batted ball charts
I feel the need to give a plug here for a completely free application that has provided me with a lot of fun in the past few days. Dan Fox, Baseball Prospectus Writer and Blogger, has created a chart that will give you a breakdown of batted balls (pops, liners, grounders, and flies) for every hitter and pitcher for 2003-2006, and broken down by what side of the plate the batter hits from. If that's not enough, you can see these further broken down by what part of the field the ball is hit to. You can find the program here: Charts Program
Of course charts aren't enough for most statheads. What good is data if you can't bring it into a spreadsheet or database? The data behind the charts is easily accessible enough for that, and I've created a junk stat from that.
Line drive to popup ratio, minimum 250 balls in play, 2003 to 2006:
1. Larry Bigbie ?! 15.4
2. Bob Abreu 10.9
3. Cory Sullivan 10.6
4. Derek Jeter 10.6
5. Joe Mauer 10.2
Other notable players doing very well here are Michael Young, Julio Franco, Lyle Overbay, and Ryan Howard. Down at the bottom are Jose Bautista, Henry Blanco, Marcus Thames, Rod Barajas, and Jonny Gomes.
If it measures anything, this measures the abilty to center the baseball, as a line drive is what good hitters are looking to do, and a popup is the most obvious failure given you actually made contact with the ball. But as I said, its a junk stat, I'm not claiming its predicitve of anything.
Ryan Howard is particularly impressive, as he both strikes out a lot and hits a ton of homers. I'd think more of his failures would be popups, like Gomes and Thames, but he's been able to avoid that so far. If we had these stats going back to the 80's, Wade Boggs would be off the charts. He rarely popped the ball up to the infield.