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Coco's New Stance


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#1 Marbleheader


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Posted 16 June 2007 - 07:37 PM

Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp put in some extra work before the game with hitting coach Dave Magadan. The center fielder has been looking to eliminate unnecessary "movement" from his stance and stand taller in the batter's box, Francona said.

- MLB.com

Rather than dropping this in the Coco near-megathread, starting a new topic on this subject. His revised approach seems to be paying dividends. Even a modest improvement is welcome news on this front. I'd also like to point out that since I 'traded' him to Atlanta in my avatar, he seems to be turning it around :)

Coco hit the ball well today. Much more authority in his contact lately.

It was mentioned that Magadan is trying to get him to "stand up" more in his stance. It looks noticable to me. Does anyone have the ability to post a split screen shot of Coco's older stance vs. one from the last couple days?


The first is from the Mother's Day game, the second is from today. You can certainly see the front leg isn't nearly as extended, his stance is less open, and his upper body is straighter.



Certainly something to watch. As a mere laymen, it appears he's in a much better position to hit the ball with the new stance.

Edit: To get all the media in the same post:

LH Stills:
Posted Image (NESN/FOX)

LH Videos


Old Stance
(NESN)

New Stance
(FOX)


Those are just the pitches he made contact with in these at bats, below are the entire ABs as well. I got a PM asking if the count makes a difference, and his stance doesn't really change one pitch to another.
Old Stance
(NESN)
New Stance
(FOX)

RH Stills:
Posted Image

RH Videos
Old Stance

(NESN)
New Swing

(NESN)

#2 ookami7m

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Posted 16 June 2007 - 08:04 PM

Posted Image

Certainly something to watch. As a mere laymen, it appears he's in a much better position to hit the ball with the new stance.


From a has-been washed up player's viewpoint, this is similar to things I saw when I was playing, it gets his head higher which can help pick out a release point more quickly, and certainly it looked as though he was holding his head steadier.

It looks like his legs are less open as well which may give him more ability to load up on his swings and get some power.

#3 The Gray Eagle


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Posted 16 June 2007 - 08:14 PM

His bat is starting higher as well, should give him more control over it and a better anggle to start his swing.

"Crips" has been on base via hit or walk 6 of his last 9 times, plus another one on an error. He seems to be hitting the ball harder lately. Let's hope this keeps up.

#4 ragnarok725

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Posted 16 June 2007 - 08:16 PM

It should be noted that the picture on the right seems to be a little later in the pitcher's delivery. Coco might just have waited longer to straighten out in his previous stance. I'm not sure.

I've noted a difference too. It seems there's a little less twitching and he does seem to be a little more straight up but I didn't think the change was quite that pronounced.

#5 Mike in CT



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Posted 16 June 2007 - 08:30 PM

Huge difference. Such a more powerful stance on the right. I haven't felt this upbeat about Crisp in a long time (smal sample size aside).

Maybe we can find a picture of his stance from his Cleveland days and take a look at that?

I found this picture of him batting RH in Cleveland... from a side angle.

Posted Image

#6 Marbleheader


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Posted 16 June 2007 - 08:40 PM

It should be noted that the picture on the right seems to be a little later in the pitcher's delivery. Coco might just have waited longer to straighten out in his previous stance. I'm not sure.

I've noted a difference too. It seems there's a little less twitching and he does seem to be a little more straight up but I didn't think the change was quite that pronounced.

A little further into the delivery, not much difference. If anything, he seems to be a little more hunched over in the second frame. Posted Image

#7 Trautwein's Degree


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Posted 16 June 2007 - 09:07 PM

It looks like his legs are less open as well which may give him more ability to load up on his swings and get some power.


Posted Image

Not only are his legs more closed - his hands are higher and the he is holding the bat up in the zone as opposed to resting the bat on his shoulder as pictured in May. Keeping the bat off his shoulder should shorten his swing and should make him less likely to be late on fastballs. He should be able to better drive the ball with a more compact and efficient swing.

Edited by Marbleheader, 16 June 2007 - 09:12 PM.


#8 DJnVa


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Posted 16 June 2007 - 09:24 PM

Posted Image

Not only are his legs more closed - his hands are higher and the he is holding the bat up in the zone as opposed to resting the bat on his shoulder as pictured in May. Keeping the bat off his shoulder should shorten his swing and should make him less likely to be late on fastballs. He should be able to better drive the ball with a more compact and efficient swing.



The higher bat is a good sign. He doesn't have the extraordinary bat speed of someone like Sheffield. With his bat down lower and his legs more open it was taking him longer to get the good part of the bat through the zone. In theory he should be quicker through the zone which should lead to much harder contact. Definitely something to keep an eye on the next few days.

#9 Fratboy


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Posted 16 June 2007 - 11:23 PM

I know next to nothing about the art and science of hitting, but I can carefully observe body positions (and I'm a PhotoHunt expert), so here goes:

1. Standing up taller. There's less knee bend.
2. Standing up straighter. In the before photos, he's hunched over more toward the plate. In the after ones, he's not.
3. Right shoulder is rotated more toward the pitcher. Note that you see more of his uniform number.
4. Bat is closer to parallel to the ground instead of at a 45 degree angle. Does he wave his bat during the windup, like Sheffield and Bonds?
5. I cannot judge the width between his feet in either of these photos, but in the new photo, the back of his left foot matches up with the front of his right foot, and before, his right foot was far behind the left foot.

I have absolutely no idea what any of this means, but this are the changes I perceive he's made.

Nice captures, guys.

#10 Mike in CT



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Posted 17 June 2007 - 12:31 AM

I don't know what date he implemented the change, but in his last 3 games he's 4/9 with 2 walks and 0 K's.

Hey, it's a start.

#11 Marbleheader


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Posted 17 June 2007 - 06:38 AM

Frat, he does do a bit of a bat wave, though much less pronounced now. It's all part of the unnecessary movement I'm sure they were discussing.

#12 67WasBest


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Posted 17 June 2007 - 07:12 AM

Like most hitters, I went through dead bat periods. Times when nothing I did could generate power. One of the things I tried repeatedly was lowering myself into a crouch in an attempt to get more of my legs into my swing. All this did was ruin my OBP as I struggled to make solid contact of any kind. As I started to swing, I was coming out of that crouch, the constant changing of my eye level and hand plane made it very tough to make good contact. My balance became an issue because the weight transfer took longer and was not always optimal as bat met ball.

The solution for me was to simplify the swing and focus on base hits during the dead bat periods. This may have been what Magadan was doing with Crisp. Take all the extra action out of the swing and bring it back to clean and pure. More upright means less head up and down movement during the swing and because you are more upright, it creates better balance; a higher bat position means a shorter swing and a cleaner angle of attack on the ball.

I need to see more before calling him as being back, but the last couple of games have been much improved and have offered hope he has found something to build on.

#13 reggiecleveland


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Posted 17 June 2007 - 10:25 AM

There is no way to under estimate the mental effect of a new approach for a struggling player. If Coco thinks it is working that may be enough. Millar went on his 04 tear after changing his stance, here's hoping for a repeat.

#14 Lollardfish

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Posted 17 June 2007 - 10:41 AM

There is no way to under estimate the mental effect of a new approach for a struggling player. If Coco thinks it is working that may be enough. Millar went on his 04 tear after changing his stance, here's hoping for a repeat.


And all we need is offensive competence. Not world-beating all-star, just competence.

#15 koufax32


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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:01 PM

Shhhhhh...don't tell anyone but Coco is hitting .318 over the past week. I know it's a small sample. But a little optimism can't hurt.
LAST 7 GAMES
Date Opp AB R H HR RBI BB SB
06/10 ARI 5 0 1 0 0 0 0
06/12 COL 3 0 1 0 0 0 0
06/13 COL 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
06/14 COL 3 0 1 0 0 1 0
06/15 SF 3 2 1 0 0 1 1
06/16 SF 3 0 2 0 0 0 0
06/17 SF 1 0 1 0 0 0 0

#16 Vegas Sox Fan

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:28 PM

There is no way to under estimate the mental effect of a new approach for a struggling player. If Coco thinks it is working that may be enough. Millar went on his 04 tear after changing his stance, here's hoping for a repeat.


I'm not sure if Millar's change is a good example. If I remember correctly Millar's hot steak was after he opened his stance so he could pull inside pitches. Eventually he stopped getting inside pitches and the hot streak was over. I could be remembering incorrectly however.

Coco's change seems more fundamentally sound. Count me in as curiously optimistic.

#17 puffyme

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:31 PM

New stance =HR. Starting to look better 6 for 11 and 5 game hit streak

#18 Hatcher Steals Home

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 06:33 PM

Yes, it's a sample size of one, and there is the risk of making this a game thread-esque post, but Crisp just drilled one over the left field wall in Atlanta. He was batting righty. It was solid contact, and looked like a HR right off the bat.

Couple this with the progress that has been noted in this thread, and we have some reason for optimism here.

#19 Marbleheader


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Posted 18 June 2007 - 07:29 PM

From the right:

Posted Image

#20 Trautwein's Degree


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Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:03 PM

Marlbeheader, great observation here.

On the second homerun tonight, he really appeared to have shortened his swing and is driving the ball as a result. Very good cuts tonight from Coco.

#21 Eric Van


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Posted 18 June 2007 - 08:14 PM

I could try calculating the odds of a guy hitting .221 / .277 / .295 in 239 PA hitting .643 / .688 / 1.143 in his next 16 just by luck, but my instincts tell me: slim to none. Exhibit A as to why player seasons shouldn't be regarded as random number generator output.

Edited by Eric Van, 18 June 2007 - 10:50 PM.


#22 Maalox


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Posted 18 June 2007 - 10:34 PM

I didn't notice this thread today. In the pic at the right of the initial post, Coco is clearly closer to attack position than at left. So if he had a hitch in his swing, this would seem to be a step towards minimizing that.

I wasn't watching for this tonight but I will watch for it tomorrow night.

#23 Tim Lollard

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 11:42 PM

I could try calculating the odds of a guy hitting .221 / .277 / .295 in 239 PA hitting .643 / .688 / 1.143 in his next 16 just by luck, but my instincts tell me: slim to none. Exhibit A as to why player seasons shouldn't be regarded as random number generator output.

If you want to rule out a lucky streak shouldn't you be comparing his latest 16 AB to his established baseline, as opposed to his presumably unlucky to-date numbers? A niggling point I suppose, because I agree that there's something different going on. Even his demeanor suggests that he's starting to feel it at the plate.

#24 Maalox


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:00 AM

The solution for me was to simplify the swing and focus on base hits during the dead bat periods. This may have been what Magadan was doing with Crisp. Take all the extra action out of the swing and bring it back to clean and pure. More upright means less head up and down movement during the swing and because you are more upright, it creates better balance; a higher bat position means a shorter swing and a cleaner angle of attack on the ball.

Yeah. The first mechanical thing to do in a slump is simplify the swing. Bringing the stance closer to attack position tends to eliminate hitches that make a swing lot. Concentration on basic mechanics tends to level a swing out, which eliminates holes, and keep the head on the ball, which usually makes for more frequent contact.

#25 Pumpsie


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:18 AM

I don't think that the change is that complicated.

Coco has simply taken his lead foot and placed it more directly towards the pitcher instead of off to the side.

This automatically makes him stand up straighter, and unrecoils his body a bit. I think Coco was losing a lot of power because he was hitting in too twisted a position.

Now, he just moves more directly at the ball and pitcher and his natural swing takes over with much more power. Looks good.

#26 Eric Van


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 03:38 AM

If you want to rule out a lucky streak shouldn't you be comparing his latest 16 AB to his established baseline, as opposed to his presumably unlucky to-date numbers? A niggling point I suppose, because I agree that there's something different going on. Even his demeanor suggests that he's starting to feel it at the plate.

In fact, these 16 PA are not out of the ordinary for a guy with his pre-Sox baseline, i.e., they look like performances from the same guy with same talent level. It's the preceding 239 PA (or more going back to last season) that are significanyly different. So you have a legitimate slump (not bad luck) vs. a return to form + good luck.

This is one of the rules of small sample sizes and legitimate streakiness: many (if not most) legitimate actual changes in performance level are masked by noise, but when the better level is accompanied by good luck, it can jump out at you. The key is to recognize that luck is exaggerating the apparent improvement. It's not a problem here, because we have a previous baseline for reference, but when a prospect makes a leap forward, the luck can be misleading.

Hence the famous Chip Ambres debate I had with Rudy, where we were both right and both wrong; Ambres went from being an OK AA hitter to (at least briefly) an OK MLB 4th OF, which is actually a huge jump, but the only reason we noticed it so early in his season is that he had so much good luck that his numbers were crazy. I thought there was an outside chance Ambres might have blossomed into an MLB starter and was dead wrong; Rudy (IIR his position C) thought there was an outside chance that all of the apparent improvement was luck, and he was just as wrong. We were each pretty dismissive of the other's extreme position (neither of which, in retrospect, was too defensible) and agreed on the most likely interpretation (a significant but not outrageous improvement), which turned out to be dead on.

#27 tailwind


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 04:08 AM

I don't think that the change is that complicated.

Coco has simply taken his lead foot and placed it more directly towards the pitcher instead of off to the side.

This automatically makes him stand up straighter, and unrecoils his body a bit. I think Coco was losing a lot of power because he was hitting in too twisted a position.

Now, he just moves more directly at the ball and pitcher and his natural swing takes over with much more power. Looks good.


Seems like his bat has a bit more speed to it, as well. Perhaps it's just my untrained eye playing tricks on me because he's hitting better, but I believe he's fouled off a few pitches since tweaking his stance that he would've been behind and completely missed before. Would holding the bat farther away from his shoulder allow him to generate velocity with it a bit quicker than before?

#28 JimBoSox9


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 07:38 AM

Seems like his bat has a bit more speed to it, as well. Perhaps it's just my untrained eye playing tricks on me because he's hitting better, but I believe he's fouled off a few pitches since tweaking his stance that he would've been behind and completely missed before. Would holding the bat farther away from his shoulder allow him to generate velocity with it a bit quicker than before?



Not really-in fact, holding the bat closer to the body should generate a quicker and more compact swing-UNLESS he had been previously hitching his swing by bringing the bat in to his body then back out before swinging. If this is the case, starting his hands off his shoulder MIGHT eliminate the hitch and make the swing faster.

Color me very unconvinced thus far. I don't have the ability to capture stills, so I can't support my claim, but I think a lot of the "before" pictures are being taken too early in the windup, the only important position is the ready stance right before he swings. His problem has never been bat position, I'm fairly certain that even though he starts it behind his head, he does move it into proper position in time-it's just hard to tell because of how much his bat moves. His main mechanical problem. IMO, is with the lower body, not shifting his weight in time to generate swing power with his legs.

Wily Mo, now there's a guy who needs to get the damn bat off his shoulder.

#29 Midurty

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 10:37 AM

Seems like his bat has a bit more speed to it, as well. Perhaps it's just my untrained eye playing tricks on me because he's hitting better, but I believe he's fouled off a few pitches since tweaking his stance that he would've been behind and completely missed before. Would holding the bat farther away from his shoulder allow him to generate velocity with it a bit quicker than before?

Most batters get their hands all the way back before moving their hands forward in the swing. For some the way to quicken the swing (but not batspeed itself) is to move their hands farther back so that they're closer to the launch position.

In essence his swing takes less time now, but his batspeed is probably about the same.

#30 amarshal2

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 10:48 AM

Most batters get their hands all the way back before moving their hands forward in the swing. For some the way to quicken the swing (but not batspeed itself) is to move their hands farther back so that they're closer to the launch position.

In essence his swing takes less time now, but his batspeed is probably about the same.


I believe this is commonly called, "shortening the load." I'm not sure if that's what Coco has done here. To my eye it looks like he's just closed his stance a bit and focused on eliminating unnecessary upper body movement.

#31 Paul M


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:08 PM

In fact, these 16 PA are not out of the ordinary for a guy with his pre-Sox baseline, i.e., they look like performances from the same guy with same talent level. It's the preceding 239 PA (or more going back to last season) that are significanyly different. So you have a legitimate slump (not bad luck) vs. a return to form + good luck....
and agreed on the most likely interpretation (a significant but not outrageous improvement), which turned out to be dead on.



I don't want to wage a battle a la Rudy re: Ambres. But, I am wholly unconvinced by a declaration of return to form based on 16 ABs.

Are the 16 ABs telling us the hitter from 2005 has returned? Or, that he's going to be at least a positive offensive player? I grant that something has changed, but I am very cautious about making assertions on the basis of 4 games.

My view is almost anyone can have a great 2 weeks. I am encouraged by Coco, but I see this as another Ambres situation. Crisp isn't as bad as looked and played for most of the year, but "return to form" is where I pause.

#32 Eric Van


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:36 PM

I don't want to wage a battle a la Rudy re: Ambres. But, I am wholly unconvinced by a declaration of return to form based on 16 ABs.

Are the 16 ABs telling us the hitter from 2005 has returned? Or, that he's going to be at least a positive offensive player? I grant that something has changed, but I am very cautious about making assertions on the basis of 4 games.

My view is almost anyone can have a great 2 weeks. I am encouraged by Coco, but I see this as another Ambres situation. Crisp isn't as bad as looked and played for most of the year, but "return to form" is where I pause.

I don't think this makes much sense. Either a guy is messed up or not. He seems to have unmessed himself. Unlesss he gets messed up again, he should be more or less the hitter we saw in 2004 and 2005. I can't conceive of a mechanism where he'd be substantially better than previously in the season but noticably not as good as 2004-5.

16 PA are enough to say, with some confidence, that a guy is no longer messed up at the plate. In fact, 1 PA is enough. Even 1 PA where a guy eventually struck out but only after hitting a couple of loud shots foul (I did that in a.s.b.b-r with Brian Daubach late in his rookie season, where the difference in his hitting mechanics was egregious.) Sometimes guys revert to old bad habits, but that's the exception.

Edited by Eric Van, 19 June 2007 - 12:39 PM.


#33 AlNipper49


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:44 PM

I don't think this makes much sense. Either a guy is messed up or not. He seems to have unmessed himself. Unlesss he gets messed up again, he should be more or less the hitter we saw in 2004 and 2005. I can't conceive of a mechanism where he'd be substantially better than previously in the season but noticably not as good as 2004-5.

16 PA are enough to say, with some confidence, that a guy is no longer messed up at the plate. In fact, 1 PA is enough. Even 1 PA where a guy eventually struck out but only after hitting a couple of loud shots foul (I did that in a.s.b.b-r with Brian Daubach late in his rookie season, where the difference in his hitting mechanics was egregious.) Sometimes guys revert to old bad habits, but that's the exception.


Well, it's good to know that Jack Cust is going to hit the 180 HRs that I predicted for him this year.

#34 Carroll Hardy


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:51 PM

There is a huge difference between Chip Ambres and Coco Crisp, IMO. Coco Crisp was a proven, maturing .300 MLB hitter with 15 HR power entering what should have been his prime prior to his injury. Chip Ambres, by comparison, was not. He had no MLB sample size for a basis of evaluation. We have a baseline of significant major league performance - not a small sample size - with Coco Crisp. He's a ballplayer. A damn good one, when he's healthy. Nothing Ambresian about Coco whatsoever.

Our expectations of Coco Crisp should be based first on a medical assessment of his health. That's what medical people get paid for. If they determine he is completely healthy, we should expect that he will perform at a high skill level once whatever he had done to physically compensate for his injury is finally identified, isolated, removed, and proper muscle memory re-established. That's what Magadan (and Coco) get paid big bucks to do, 162 games a year. It doesn't happen overnight - until it does. :lol:

This is not about whether the sample size of the stats say he back or is not. Waiting for a statistically significant sample of stats to reappear prior to assessing what needs to be done is like driving down I-95 looking in the rear view mirror. He's either doing something different or he isn't. And it appears he is.

#35 ragnarok725

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:59 PM

Well, it's good to know that Jack Cust is going to hit the 180 HRs that I predicted for him this year.

The difference, of course, being that if Jack Cust had hit 180 HRs in two previous season but had hit only 2 so far this year, that 3 or 4 in the span of 16 AB would be a return to form, and not a new level of excellence. But that's a pretty irrelevant point for both Coco and Cust, I think.

To me, this is much more a case where the scouting eye has to take precedence over the statistical mind. One of the most useful applications of traditional scouting is to identify new trends before they become statistically significant. Many times, the stats tell the story of what happened but past the point where you could have gotten on the wave and ridden it early on.

It doesn't really matter in this case because we were going to have Crisp on the team either way and whether or not this is a "return to form" is really just a discussion for fun. But my eyes tell me something has changed, and while the stats can only tell me "small sample size" that only speaks to their statistical relevance, not their actual relevance.

#36 Paul M


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:07 PM

I don't buy that 4 games is a sign of a new level of play. How do you know when it's meaningful and when it's just noise?

Is Willie Harris supposed to be this good for the rest of the year? If so, the Red Sox really messed that one up.

(Harris' line for those that are interested: .386/.449/.509)

Guys have fluke years that defy expectations, so forgive me if I'll wait to say, "He's Back and he's back big" after a couple games.

Now, if he was hurt for 200 games and healthy, that's one thing. But, that's not what I believe Eric said. He said we can make judgments after not only 16 AB, but even 1 PA.

I may just be a silly strat-o-matic player, but I count dozens of players every year that put together 200-300 AB that look like All-Stars that are beyond the 99th percentile PECOTA. So, the earlier point that the odds of a .600 OPS guy being able to be a 1200 OPS guy for 16 ABs is very slim is not surprising. But, in reality, over 14 days almost anything can happen on a baseball field.

#37 amarshal2

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:09 PM

The difference, of course, being that if Jack Cust had hit 180 HRs in two previous season but had hit only 2 so far this year, that 3 or 4 in the span of 16 AB would be a return to form, and not a new level of excellence. But that's a pretty irrelevant point for both Coco and Cust, I think.

To me, this is much more a case where the scouting eye has to take precedence over the statistical mind. One of the most useful applications of traditional scouting is to identify new trends before they become statistically significant. Many times, the stats tell the story of what happened but past the point where you could have gotten on the wave and ridden it early on.

It doesn't really matter in this case because we were going to have Crisp on the team either way and whether or not this is a "return to form" is really just a discussion for fun. But my eyes tell me something has changed, and while the stats can only tell me "small sample size" that only speaks to their statistical relevance, not their actual relevance.


Well, this "scouting" is what EV is always trying to capture in his SSS analyses. I tend to think that if you see something from a scouting perspective and you see something change immediately statistically, then there might be something there. I made the call on Josh Beckett turning the corner this year after his 3rd start of the season. Like Paul above and others I'm not quite ready to call this on Coco yet.....but I'm watching very closely.

I also think it's kind of ironic that EV uses stats in a somewhat unconventional way (SSS's acceptable) to prove the point Scouts were making long before most SABR guys set out to show how irrational they were being. Essentially, we've come full circle and are back to demonstrating when the scouts' qualitative analysis has quantitiative (but not statistically significant) merit. At the very least, we have more evidence to say, "there's been a change!" than we did in the past.

Edited by amarshal2, 19 June 2007 - 01:12 PM.


#38 smastroyin


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:13 PM

The dissociation here seems to be that Eric is saying "it's not just random chance, so it has to be a skill."

I believe the first part of this statement. I do think you can show statistically that if a player were a random number generator, the odds would be astronomically low that he would be able to do for 16 AB what Coco has done. that's fine. That part is true.

The problem is the leap in logic of "player is not a random number generator, therefore it has to be skill and Coco has recovered." That's not true at all. Almost every player is prone to wild performance swings and almost every player capable of playing in the major leagues (I would actually submit that every non-pitcher who makes the major leagues) is capable of putting together a hot 16 AB string. and yes, in retrospect or even as it is happening we can see that there is something different about that player.

The question is whether it there is a measurable sustainable skill that we can observe in 16 AB. Is there something that says the player won't revert? To these questions I am with Paul and 16 AB is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

#39 Maalox


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:27 PM

I don't think that the change is that complicated.

The change I described -bringing his stance to attack position- is about as uncomplicated as a change as a hitter can make. Although the change you describe is just as uncomplicated:

Coco has simply taken his lead foot and placed it more directly towards the pitcher instead of off to the side.

You're right, he's doing that too. They're part of the same change as the stance thing: getting rid of some of the pre-attack movement that may have been causing him to attack late. As with his bat, his front foot closer in stance to its attack position, so he doesn't have to step in as far. So he's in attack position sooner.

This automatically makes him stand up straighter, and unrecoils his body a bit. I think Coco was losing a lot of power because he was hitting in too twisted a position.

Now, he just moves more directly at the ball and pitcher and his natural swing takes over with much more power. Looks good.

I'm not 100% sure what you're talking about here. But, if you look at the Before and After films up top, Crisp comes to the same attack position in both before he launches forward. So he wasn't "hitting in too twisted a position" but taking too long to get into that position. He wasn't "losing power" per se but rather as a result meeting the ball at a different place in his swing - probably because he couldn't get his arms extended on pitches on the inside half, because his attack was late.

Moving his foot in and his bat down toward their attack positions took an extra fraction of a second, so he got to attack position a fraction of a second late and started his actual swing a fraction of a second late. Shortening the distance and time of the pre-attack bat and foot movements, so if he starts his swing at the same time in the pitch, he's in attack position early.

#40 AlNipper49


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:42 PM

I don't buy that 4 games is a sign of a new level of play. How do you know when it's meaningful and when it's just noise?

Is Willie Harris supposed to be this good for the rest of the year? If so, the Red Sox really messed that one up.

(Harris' line for those that are interested: .386/.449/.509)

Guys have fluke years that defy expectations, so forgive me if I'll wait to say, "He's Back and he's back big" after a couple games.

Now, if he was hurt for 200 games and healthy, that's one thing. But, that's not what I believe Eric said. He said we can make judgments after not only 16 AB, but even 1 PA.

I may just be a silly strat-o-matic player, but I count dozens of players every year that put together 200-300 AB that look like All-Stars that are beyond the 99th percentile PECOTA. So, the earlier point that the odds of a .600 OPS guy being able to be a 1200 OPS guy for 16 ABs is very slim is not surprising. But, in reality, over 14 days almost anything can happen on a baseball field.

It breaks the first rule of statistical analysis which is using stats to explain qualitative analysis. Quantitative analysis can support qualitative analysis and qualitative analysis can backup and perhaps even support quantitive analysis but a direct line direct correlation is just cheese. cheese.

#41 Worst Trade Evah


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:58 PM

I don't think this makes much sense. Either a guy is messed up or not. He seems to have unmessed himself. Unlesss he gets messed up again, he should be more or less the hitter we saw in 2004 and 2005. I can't conceive of a mechanism where he'd be substantially better than previously in the season but noticably not as good as 2004-5.

16 PA are enough to say, with some confidence, that a guy is no longer messed up at the plate. In fact, 1 PA is enough. Even 1 PA where a guy eventually struck out but only after hitting a couple of loud shots foul (I did that in a.s.b.b-r with Brian Daubach late in his rookie season, where the difference in his hitting mechanics was egregious.) Sometimes guys revert to old bad habits, but that's the exception.


That's a scouting determination, not an analytic one really. Does it really add anything to cover it in a veneer of analysis? I can see how numbers might usefully be mined to support a scouting-derived claim, but by themselves the numbers don't speak the way you seem to be suggesting they are. I just don't think these kinds of claims about small samples are all that persuasive. Sometimes they're right and sometimes they aren't -- the scouting may be what actually matters here.

I also don't agree with this premise

Either a guy is messed up or not.

Surely there must be degrees of messed up-ness? Can't things happen in increments depending on the nature of the adjustment, degree of health recovery, context, and luck?

Edited by Worst Trade Evah, 19 June 2007 - 01:59 PM.


#42 reggiecleveland


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 02:05 PM

It takes no formula to observe he has the ball with more authority the last three games. Not only are Coco's results bad this year but he almost never hit the ball hard. He hit two homers and stung a line drive last night. The visual difference is just as stunning as the statistical jump. Something has changed there is no doubt.

#43 Maalox


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 02:17 PM

I don't buy that 4 games is a sign of a new level of play. How do you know when it's meaningful and when it's just noise?

Is Willie Harris supposed to be this good for the rest of the year?

You realize that these are two different questions, right? Not just because one's in reference to Crisp and one's in reference to Willie Harris, but because one is about finding causes for things we know have happened while the other is about drawing inferences about future results from past results. They're two completely unrelated questions which, assuming they are answerable, must be addressed in completely different ways.

I cannot say that Crisp's stance changes caused his performance. All I can do is point out the eye-catching correlation, and note the consistency between the effects those changes are believed to have and the performance on the field. If a hitter is late, lessening the movement and time a hitter needs to get to attack position should get him to attack position earlier and should therefore allow him to get better arm extension, which in turn should enable him to drive more balls. Those changes were made to Coco's stance, and he is driving more balls than previously. It might be a coincidence, but there's reason to think it's not just that.

That doesn't mean Coco Crisp will become a HR hitter with a .350 batting average from now on. It doesn't mean that he's swallowed some magic pill. It just means that of all the little day-to-day problems conspiring against this particular hitter, one has apparently been spotted and solved. There will certainly be more.

Sample size comes into play in mechanics, too. It's the same a tug-of-war between: 1) acting upon limited evidence you have in front of you, and often guessing wrong and 2) waiting for more information to get a clearer picture while performance suffers from your inaction. Experience with particular discipline brings about a certain degree of faith in their substance. Just as Sabermetrician X believes he can find causes or guess at future results with stats, Hitting Coach Q believes he can find causes for slumps or prescribe mechanical changes that will produce results. How do you know when a player's short-term performance is a meaningful indicator of overall performance? I suppose you don't really know it until after his career's over, if then.

But at the professional level, fixes to mechanical problems are almost necessarily short-term changes to short-term problems.

Say you assume some degree of cause-effect relationship to "proper" mechanics, and there was some hitter who had always been lousy and always been doing something wrong and for some reason nobody ever saw it or commented on it, until one day a good hitting coach found it and fixed it. If that happened, then yes, a previously crappy hitter could turn into a great hitter virtually overnight. The reason that almost never happens is not because there's no cause-effect relationship to mechanics but because there is a cause-effect relationship. Hitters and their coaches are looking at mechanics all the time, and fixing small mechanical problems before they become career-determining. This we can assume that Will Harris's performance this season is a result of how he's used, or has some other cause, or is just a statistical fluke that will regress. Harris has been with multiple organizations, one or more of which would have caught his mechanical problems and fixed them. (I suppose he could have just refused to change, or been dumb to the advice he was given, until one day he had some near-religious epiphany and becomes a mechanics nut. But those cases are rare.) You pretty much know that something that totally handicaps a hitter isn't going to be allowed to linger long.

And once hitter coaches are in the game, it just becomes part of the business of practicing. Sabermetrics, still a relatively new field, owes a lot of its popularity to the idea that it could produce big results by looking at the game in a completely new way - or rather a completely new angle on an old way of looking at the game. Those times come in mechanics (Charley Lau) but generally the knowledge is pretty well established, there's not much new, and it becomes less about the mechanics themselves and more about discipline in analysis and finding creative ways to get the same old message across. You can see the same thing happening in SABR as it has become more accepted. The same principles keep coming up again and again: OBP is more important than AVG, sample size is important, a strikeout is just an out for a hitter, K-rates are good predictors of pitching success, etc. Stuff comes to be taken for granted, and there are fewer and fewer groundbreaking insights and fewer and fewer revolutionary developments. But the discipline is still relevant.

I don't know if this answers your question at all, but I enjoyed it.

#44 Pumpsie


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 02:33 PM

The change I described -bringing his stance to attack position- is about as uncomplicated as a change as a hitter can make. Although the change you describe is just as uncomplicated:

You're right, he's doing that too. They're part of the same change as the stance thing: getting rid of some of the pre-attack movement that may have been causing him to attack late. As with his bat, his front foot closer in stance to its attack position, so he doesn't have to step in as far. So he's in attack position sooner.

I'm not 100% sure what you're talking about here. But, if you look at the Before and After films up top, Crisp comes to the same attack position in both before he launches forward. So he wasn't "hitting in too twisted a position" but taking too long to get into that position. He wasn't "losing power" per se but rather as a result meeting the ball at a different place in his swing - probably because he couldn't get his arms extended on pitches on the inside half, because his attack was late.

Moving his foot in and his bat down toward their attack positions took an extra fraction of a second, so he got to attack position a fraction of a second late and started his actual swing a fraction of a second late. Shortening the distance and time of the pre-attack bat and foot movements, so if he starts his swing at the same time in the pitch, he's in attack position early.


Maalox, I was actually agreeing with your post regarding "attack position" by saying that the change wasn't complicated. I guess I should have stated that outright. Sorry.

So, I guess we pretty much agree here. You make a good point about getting into position earlier by being closer to "attack position." We're talking about micro-seconds here and shortening that step makes a big difference. I think you're also spot on regarding the ball hitting his swing in a more optimum place now. It was getting weird to see that even when he used to make contact with the baseball, he just couldn't keep it in play.

What's encouraging to me is that it isn't a big change and that Coco's natural swing and reflexes now seem just fine. That is, just as we've always hoped, the guy has hitting skills, he just wasn't positioning himself well enough to use them properly before this week.

#45 Eric Van


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Posted 19 June 2007 - 03:28 PM

To clarify what I'm going on about --

When I posted Crisp's 16 PA line there was a tacit assumption that we're all watching the games together and you know the reality that the line is simply a shorthand for. In fact, if we had all watched Coco compile the same line by seeing-eye grounders and bloops (including two OFers falling down and turning broken-bat bloops into inside-the-park HRs), none of this discussion would be taking place.

And as I've said before, the important part of that line about odds is not the outrageous 16 PA but the previous 239.

To sum up, scouting eye tells you Coco was not himself until the last 16 PA, and analysis can back that up by showing that if you put Crisp's 2004-5 numbers into a simulator, the odds of getting output that bad for 239 PA are very low.

Scouting eye tells you that Coco is now hitting like some sort of talented MLB hitter on a perfectly ordinary hot streak. Analysis really adds nothing non-obvious to that because of SSS. But you don't need analysis to consider 16 PA. The reason why we have analysis at all is because the human brain can't hold a season's worth of results in memory without selective and biased editing. Hence you have fans of a team violently disagreeing over how a guy has performed in the clutch (as each side selectively edits out the successes and failures respectively). But you don't get such disagreements about 4-game spans.

#46 Pearl Wilson


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Posted 20 June 2007 - 07:48 AM

Crisp has made some modifications in his stance from both sides of the plate.
"He's standing a little taller," hitting coach Dave Magadan said. "A little less stride. And getting the feeling like he's above the ball instead of like landing with that front leg bent.

"Just trying to get him taller, both ways. If he's not going to load, at least keep him where he holds his position instead of leaning toward the baseball.

"You don't want to swing around your body. If you get all spread out, with your legs and the weight of your upper body, you swing around it, which slows up your bat and you hit a lot of balls weakly. It gets him in a better position where he can generate some bat speed. He's done a real good job, both sides.

"I think it's easier for him to get a load, righthanded. Lefthanded, he's a little more still in his load, so we just try to get him to stand up taller."

Link
I'm thinking that maybe the sustained period during which Coco's finger was bothering him caused (over time) changes in his mechanics that were detrimental in the long run, and this is now being rectified.

Edited by Pearl Wilson, 20 June 2007 - 07:50 AM.


#47 amarshal2

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 08:40 AM

Coco's stance starts open and then closes right before the pitch. I'm not convinced these frames are from the same point in the pitcher's delivery.

#48 ragnarok725

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 08:50 AM

Coco's stance starts open and then closes right before the pitch. I'm not convinced these frames are from the same point in the pitcher's delivery.

Then watch the videos. I think the change is pretty dramatic. Coco was getting to his attack position much later and as a result he was having a much harder time getting the bat around. In the new stance he freezes for about a second before the pitch is delivered, in his position, not twitching, ready to swing. As a result, i think he's probably seeing the ball better and is in a better position to get the bat around in time.

He's also stepping into pitches. Because of all the fidgeting it looks like a lot of his previous swings were flat-footed. He took so long to get into his swinging position that he didn't have time to shift his weight and swing through pitches.

If you don't like the screen frames though, just watch the videos. I think those are better anyway.

Edited by ragnarok725, 20 June 2007 - 08:52 AM.


#49 paulftodd


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Posted 20 June 2007 - 09:09 AM

Coco has made an adjustment that has resulted in some success over a few games. Keep in mind the success is against NL teams who may not have great scouting reports on him. The other thing to consider is that by making an adjustment to your batting stance to close holes that pitchers and scouts have discovered, you may be opening up new holes in your swing that have yet to be discovered, so you have some short term wins that may disappear after the new holes are discovered. Hitting and pitching is about continuous adjustments. Coco has made an adjustment that seems to be working today. We need to see how pitchers adjust, and how Coco adjusts to their adjustments. But even if Coco hits 250 the rest of the year, as long as his defense stays at the same level as it has been, his hitting is no longer an issue, at least not to me, and I was pretty down on Coco at one point. Hopefully Coco is regressing to mean (upwards), since his smile lights up the planet, and he smiles more when he hits.

#50 JimBoSox9


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Posted 20 June 2007 - 09:12 AM

He's also stepping into pitches. Because of all the fidgeting it looks like a lot of his previous swings were flat-footed. He took so long to get into his swinging position that he didn't have time to shift his weight and swing through pitches.


You have, as they say, bingo. Coco seems to hit with him arms only, very upright and with no leverage. I don't believe this flaw has been corrected simply by getting into "attack position" earlier, but I also (double negative alert)don't believe he can't be successful with his current stance, he has in his entire career always been a guy who makes up for a mechanically imperfect swing with relatively above-average hand/eye coordination (just like Damon).

I've always thought that the finger inhibited his ability to hit the ball hard the other way, because you need a really good grip to do that because the bat has not traveled as far and picked up as much momentum. It would be dumb for me to suggust that his finger has magically healed overnight, but during this hot treak he has definitely started driving balls the other way that used to be weak pop-ups.