Launch speed and pitch location

Exploring Baseball Data with R

For this post, I thought I’d do something a little different.  I’d start with a baseball question and describe the process for getting the relevant data and constructing a reasonable graph to address the question.

The question

There is a lot of talk nowadays about a hitter’s launch speed.  Thinking about this, I’m interested in how the launch speed of a batted ball depends on the location of the pitch.  Certainly, one would anticipate that the batted ball’s launch speed is greatest for pitches in the middle of the strike zone, but I’m interested how the launch speed varies for other pitch locations.

The data

Currently, the best source of data is through the Statcast system and Bill Pettit has written a package baseballr that makes it easy for reading in the relevant data.  Using the function scrape_statcast_savant_batter_all(), I collected all of the pitch-by-pitch data for all games played…

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