Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Mlb_jun_06_3df2
When we, as fans, use anecdotal evidence in our quest for baseball truths, we often over-emphasize iconic moments. Our sample degrades into big moments we can remember. So we turn to data to give us an unbiased look at the facts. But when a hitter evaluates himself and his swing, he usually turns to his memory for help. And though that evidence is anecdotal as well, the sample is huge — that hitter spends most of his time thinking about hitting, and all of his time being himself. So it’s no surprise that Chase Headley knows best why Chase Headley showed more power in 2012. And that the slugger has had a complicated history when it comes to using data. So how did he hit for more power last year? “I would say that I was able to pull the ball in the air more frequently than I did in years past — not necessarily pulling the ball more, but being able to elevate the ball more from that side — that would be my best guess,” was Headley’s intuitive answer. The numbers agree that he pulled the ball more to the outfield from the left side last year: As LHB Pull Center Opposite 2009 45.2% 30.4% 24.3% 2010 37.1% 36.1% 26.8% 2011 41.5% 29.8% 28.8% 2012 48.0% 32.4% 19.6% The numbers to right field alone represent a big change, but when seen in tandem with his opposite field numbers, they are even more impressive. Headley says that pulling the ball with power to the outfield was really just something that came from “hitting the ball correctly,” or hitting the ball with backspin. Switch hitters have twice the work to do, in effect. “My swing is completely different from each side of the plate,” said Headley, and that echoes some of the things Dexter Fowler exhibits in his splits. Headley goes so far as to call himself “two different hitters.” Generally, Headley feels he pulls the ball more from the right side, and swings and misses more perhaps. He doesn’t know these things for sure, but that’s his feeling. Is this true? Is there evidence that he’s finally converging his approaches from the two sides? He does admit that’s a goal. Well, Headley wasn’t going to bat one thousand, maybe. He strikes out as a lefty more consistently. But when you look at his batted ball mix from the right side, you start to see something interesting: GB/FB as L GB/FB as R Pull/Oppo as R Pull/Oppo as L 2009 1.01 1.80 2.24 1.86 2010 1.19 2.00 2.00 1.38 2011 1.25 1.63 1.48 1.44 2012 1.46 1.70 1.77 2.45 To summarize, it looks like Headley has become more of a pull hitter and hit more ground balls from the left side since 2009. It also looks like those changes have made his profiles from the left and the right more similar. For the most part, Headley’s intuition about himself has been correct. And when I asked him if he used much data in the process of becoming a better hitter, he said he didn’t, not often at least. But once upon a time, he did see something — the batting average on ground balls and fly balls in San Diego. That, and knowledge of the difficulty of showing lefty power in PetCo, caused Headley to change his approach. “I made some adjustments when I got here, because this park is so big and conducive to hitting the ball lower on the ground, and I worked on that so hard — hitting the ball the other way, hitting on a lower trajectory — that I almost forgot how to hit the ball the way I used to, and last year I decided I wanted to get back to hitting the way I used to, and we worked on my swing path and backspin in the offseason,” Headley said about getting to PetCo and changing his approach. That work was well worth it, no matter if the stat he first saw was a bit misleading. Ground balls are always going to have a better batting average than fly balls, but the slugging on fly balls undoes much of that difference. But as we found from talking to Joey Votto, hitting to all fields and finding a level swing plane are valuable things, so his time wasn’t wasted. Even if adding some pull power back into his game looks like a no-brainer now. Every day, Chase Headley is gathering data in his own way. And every day, he’s working towards having the best possible approach, and duplicating it from both sides of the plate. For the most part, he’s done it without data, but the data really likes what he’s done with his game.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Robert Griffin III benched by Redskins for McCoy

Lovie Smith: 2-9 Bucs are still in playoff contention

UCLA QB Brett Hundley likely to enter NFL draft

Bills will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium for Sunday's game

Miller to Oregon transfer rumor originates on Reddit

Valencia FC ditches bat logo amidst DC Comics challenge

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Paul Pierce: Celtics' Big Three was like 'Holy Trinity'

Cubs reportedly offer Jon Lester more than $135 million

Colin Kaepernick: Jim Harbaugh will be back in 2015

Jeremy Maclin not happy with Riley Cooper’s contract remark

Broncos reportedly waive kicker McManus, sign Connor Barth

Report: Browns not committed to Brian Hoyer long-term

Derrick Rose leaves game with hamstring tightness

Rockies pitcher takes shot at former Astros pitcher

WATCH: Paul Pierce signs autograph during game

Jeremy Hill asks great question about alma mater LSU

NBA rookie rankings after 1st month of 2014-15 season

Statistic about Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler very revealing

Aaron Rodgers blasts those who accused him of trolling Vikings

The century's 10 most one-sided college football rivalries

WATCH: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of NBA's first month

Sherman mocks NFL media policies in press conference

Why Packers' offense continues to evolve despite success

'Fire Idzik' billboard updated with suggestion for Jets owner

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Maclin unhappy with Cooper comments

Post-Week 13 CFB Playoff projection

What has Masai Ujiri built in Toronto?

How L.A. should replace Hanley

Lester, Red Sox still talking contract

Why each NFL team should be thankful

Could Kentucky beat the 76ers?

Greatest college football rivalries

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.