I have recently been asked by a few players, parents and coaches why I don't advocate trying to hit the ball on the ground even in a player with speed or a lack of power. The main reason is the bat path created when trying to do this. I have written a few articles on this topic here and here. I also have a video explaining my thoughts here
The other reason I don't agree with trying to hit groundballs is statistics. Throughout the history of baseball, groundballs have not been nearly as productive as line drives or flyballs. Today I'd like to share some more data that supports my belief that players should never try to hit the ball on the ground.
The first set of data comes from the 2009 Major League season. The data below takes into account every single ball put in play over the course of the season.
Groundballs accounted for .04 runs per event.
Balls hit in the air (All Line Drives and Flyballs) accounted for .23 runs per event.
That means that balls in the air accounted for 6 times the offense that groundballs did.
So, what if you take out line drives and homeruns, and just look at fly balls?
The fly balls still are superior producing .1 run per event. That means that even if you can't hit the ball over the fence, balls in the air still produce more than twice the offense that groundballs do.
The second set of data shows how a players speed or lack of power affect statistics. The following set of stats comes from the 2013 MLB season. It shows the weighted on-base percentage of each type of batted ball: groundballs, line drives, and flyballs. The w. OBA is more accurate in predicting a hitters productivity than regular OBP because it assigns a greater value to extra-base hits which produce more runs.
Ground Balls: .213
Line Drives: .681
What about the fastest player in the league?
Top 25 speed scores
Line Drives: .701
This show that even if you are incredibly fast, hitting the ball in the air is still more advantageous than hitting the ball on the ground.
What about guys that don't/can't hit the ball over the fence?
Lowest 25 HR/FB ratio
Line Drives: .646
Getting closer, but flyballs still win.
So, overall, even though many coaches will tell players with less than average size and strength, or players with great speed to hit the ball on the ground, we can see that this is not the best advice. While I tell the vast majority of my hitters that I would rather see them hit the ball in the air than on the ground, my main goal is to get them to hit more consistent line drives, because, as the stats show, they are far and away the best option.