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The three Matts on the St. Louis Cardinals appear to have been unlucky at the plate in 2014

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This will hopefully be a new addition to saberMATTrics going forward. Admittedly, the year-to-year value behind this information is still up for discussion. At the very least, it should provide for some anecdotal value.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Viva El Birdos' favorite saberMATTrician provided a final 2014 tally on Runs Matted In (237), Matts Matted In (122), and Matts Batted In (240). You can find a comprehensive breakdown of all RMI, MMI, and MBI here. Though all three of these categories provide valuable insight on the production of the St. Louis Cardinals Matts, I wanted to explore the topic further. Given that Matt Carpenter (23.8%), Matt Adams (24.3%), and Matt Holliday (16.6%, down from his career average of 19.2%) are notorious line drive hitters, I was curious to see if there was data available to possibly suggest that these three hitters may have been unlucky at the plate in 2014. No, I'm not talking about expected BABIP (xBABIP), either, but rather, I will simply look at the line drives hit by the three Matts because for years now, my eyes have told me that these three seem to hit into outfield lineouts more than most.

2014 statistics

Player Line Drive % (LD%) Line Drive Hits Total Lineouts Outfield Lineouts
Carpenter 23.8% 86 64 52 (81%)
Adams 24.3% 89 47 40 (85%)
Holliday 16.6% 81 42 39 (93%)

As a team, the Cardinals had 417 lineouts in 2014. According to Baseball Savant, there were 10,532 lineouts in 2014—meaning that the average MLB team hit into 351 lineouts. Thus, the Cardinals were 66 lineouts above league average, which makes sense considering as a team, the Cardinals tied for the fourth highest LD% in all of baseball at 21.3%. In fact, since John Mabry took over as hitting coach in 2013, the Cardinals have the second highest LD% in the majors, for what it's worth.

Well, as you can see from the table above, the Matts accounted for roughly 37% of the Cardinals' lineouts last season. Eighty-six percent of their lineouts were caught in the outfield. Why am I putting such an emphasis on outfield lineouts, you ask? The league batting average on line drives was .690 in 2014. In something I wish I had more time to calculate, I am making what I see as a reasonable assumption that outfield line drives result in an even higher batting average than .690.

Carpenter LD spray chart

Carpenter LD outs

For video evidence of a Carpenter outfield lineout, check out this rocket at Coors Field that very easily could have gone for a double or possibly even a triple. Hat tip to Brandon Barnes for making one of the best catches of 2014, though.

Adams LD spray chart

Adams LD outs
For video evidence of an Adams's outfield lineout, check out this one in the ninth inning of a game against the Cubs. No matter the positioning by Junior Lake, this is likely an out, but had Adams made contact a fraction of a millisecond later, there is chance this liner falls in the left-field corner for a double.

Holliday LD spray chart

Holliday LD Outs

Finally, click here for video evidence of a Holliday Howitzer in the twelfth inning of a game against the Phillies. Thankfully, Trevor Rosenthal shut the door on the one-run, extra-inning victory, but no one would have complained about the insurance runs this liner could have provided.

Final thoughts

When we already have readily available xBABIP calculators and organizations very likely have access to Hit F/x data, how valuable is this information? I'm not exactly sure, but then again, how valuable is the premise of saberMATTrics in the first place? For those following a team like the St. Louis Cardinals, I deem it very valuable.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to all!

Credit to Daren Willman's Baseball Savant for the data and graphs used in this post.