Hooper: Keep Your Anti-Intellectualism Out Of My Game

I can’t really start this where I want to, because that would involve my religious views, and I’m not willing to trigger that many people. Not on Easter Sunday.

Regardless of how you view the universe, there is one thing that unites us all in fact. That is numbers. Numbers and physics.

There are laws within our universe physically, meaning things that are true 100 percent of the time, without fail. There are numbers to quantify them.

You may have recently heard or read these new pop terms in baseball referring to exit velocity, the speed in which the ball leaves a hitter’s bat, and launch angle, which is pretty self-explanatory.

A popular physical law says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. You may have heard that as well.

So with the latest additions to the baseball lexicon, and as there is with any change in thinking from the norm, this week has seen a backlash from those who do not jibe with these new terms and their importance.

The common enemy of the resistance has been that first term, exit velocity.

The idea behind it is that the faster the ball leaves a hitter’s bat, the more likely he is to get a hit. Seems pretty simple, no? You are more likely to get a hit on a ball smoked in any direction in play at 107 mph than one at 60.

Yet somehow, any time a player gets a hit on a Texas Leaguer or a swinging bunt up the third base line, voices emerge, sarcastically asking for the exit velocity, mocking “Saber Nerds” who would dare use the one true thing in the universe to shape their understanding.

These voices may be sarcastic, they may be serious. I don’t know for sure.

Classic millennial cynicism tells me they are serious, which is funny to me, because mocking exit velocity on a perfectly placed ball demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of what is being measured.

When Miguel Cabrera singles on a ball that falls between Austin Jackson and Francisco Lindor in center on a 82.3 mph pop up at 51 degrees, we can infer that a ball hit at 83.3 mph would have carried slightly further, making Jackson more likely to call off Lindor. The opposite can be said for an 81.3 mph pop and Lindor.

Because the play has a 2 percent chance of being a hit according to Statcast, the numbers don’t tell us much, but there is still something to read based on positioning.

We also know that Cabrera’s was 1-of-28 balls at that speed and angle have landed for hits, so it probably is not the type of thing you want to aim for each at bat.

We also know that Yandy Diaz, leading the league in batted-balls over 105 mph for outs, is good enough to hit at the major league level because of how he squares up the baseball.

Sure, we could probably see these two things with the naked eye, but knowing specifically that Diaz’s 107 mph lineout at a 13 degree angle has been a hit 75 times out of a 100. Therefore, his outs should probably be seen in the same vein as a hit, despite the end result.

Baseball has long been the game for intellectuals in America, hence the emergence of “Saber Nerds,” and the game has no room for antiquated thinking.

You don’t have to be a self-proclaimed intellectual to understand that disputing hard, quantifiable evidence is not the best hill to die on.

Of all of the things you want to dispute, you are going to go with the one indisputable thing in your entire existence?

Get off my lawn.

More from Alex Hooper | 92.3 The Fan
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