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A Team Based Stat in a Game of Individuals

Courtesy of Southridge Yearbook

Courtesy of Southridge Yearbook

Courtesy of Southridge Yearbook

Kyle Pinnell

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There are a lot of statistics in baseball. From batting average to on-base percentage and ERA there are no shortages of ways to evaluate players. But in a game with a plethora of individual statistics to choose from, perhaps it’s QAB that showcases how a bunch of individuals can come together and form a team.

QAB stands for Quality at Bat and it is more of a team statistic than an individual one. It is measured as a percentage and can be used by a player to determine how beneficial their at-bat was to the team.

Out of all players with at least twenty at-bats, Joe Ball led the Skyhawks in QAB at 66.3%. Following Ball is Zach Hald and his brother Michael Ball who finished the season with QAB’s of 64.1% and 61.63% respectively. As a team, the Hawks finished with a QAB percentage of 56.09% with 470 quality at-bats out of 838 total at-bats

QAB is one of the first metrics that the coaching staff looks at because it tells more about the player’s performance than any other statistic. A player could finish the game with one hit out of four at-bats but go four-for-four at the quality at-bats. Despite not having the best day at the plate, that player played a big role in helping the team that game. According to Head Coach Kyle Chamberlain, it’s an easy way to decipher “team guys from me guys.”

To find a player’s QAB, the team uses a zero through nine number system that ranges from no contact at all to a pop-up to the midfield. The goal of each batter is to be within 3-7 which is between hitting it hard on the ground and bouncing right at a player and a deep fly out to the wall. Getting a hit that falls in this range shows that the player is hitting the ball hard.

“We try and control what we can control, and that is to hit the ball hard, what happens after that is what happens,” Chamberlain said.

Courtesy of Southridge Yearbook

While the highest chance to get a good QAB is to make contact with the ball, that is not the only way to score high.

If the batter forces the pitcher into eight pitches during a single at-bat, then they also get credit that goes towards QAB. The logic is: even if the batter doesn’t get on base, he’s tiring the pitcher out so that they are more likely to make a poor throw later on, and pitch count limits mean the opposing coach may pull his pitcher sooner.  Some coaches monitor this closely and pull their pitchers before they hit that cutoff point if they have a big game coming up.

It’s not just about getting hits for it to be quality, it’s bunting guys over, or sacrifices, just the little parts of the game,” senior shortstop Connor Fajardo said.

In football, a player gets at least four opportunities to make a play on every offensive possession. In basketball, a player has multiple chances to handle the ball and get a shot up. In baseball, even the best batters only receive a few chances a game to get on base. More often than not, a player ends up striking out and sent back to the bench, often having an inning or two before receiving another opportunity. Sometimes the QAB stat is what helps keep a players head in the game. For example, a player might be extremely frustrated with their performance, but notice that they have a high QAB and figure out that they must be doing something positive, even if they don’t realize it at the time.

In baseball, going 3/10 is very good. 3/10 is only 30%, but some of the best hitters in the major leagues hit .300, and they often get inducted into the Hall of Fame. A stat like QAB often helps the players find the little successes in the game that can lead to a team victory. “You gotta be able to take success where you can and handle failure where you can,” Chamberlain said. “Baseball, especially at the plate, once the ball leaves the bat you have no control over what happens.”

Courtesy of Southridge Yearbook

According to Chamberlain, each players goal is to get at least a 60% QAB, and the team goal is 60%. However, that is easier said than done. Last year the player with the highest QAB was this year’s leader, Joe Ball, who finished the year at exactly 60%.

The competition for the highest QAB is very high among the players in the locker room, even if it only results in pride and bragging rights. There is a board in the batting cage where the players QAB percentage is updated after every game for reference. During a game, players will check the chart after every at-bat.

“It gets competitive,” Fajardo said. “That’s kind of what makes the team good. We’re just trying to have the most quality at-bats on the team. It correlates because if you have a lot of quality at-bats that game, typically you’re either competing for a win or winning that game.”

Aside from pride, the competition stems from who might get into the lineup based on their QAB percentage. Coaches use QAB as a factor to determine where in the batting order a player might be.

“Typically guys who are having a lot of quality at-bats are higher up in the lineup,” Fajardo said.

 While finding a players QAB percentage might not be the only way to find these successes, it has been the most effective and competitive way for the Skyhawks to come together as a team and compete. “You have to find ways in baseball to find success when you’re not having it,” Chamberlain said.

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A Team Based Stat in a Game of Individuals