The math behind hitting in baseball when the game’s not on the line – Baltimore Sun

Now 34 and preparing for his 13th year in major league baseball, Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is perceived by some to be in a state of athletic decline.

The same player who slugged 30 home runs as recently as 2011, for example, belted just 8 last year, and injuries have forced him to miss about 30 percent of his team’s games over the past two years.

But there are many ways to measure success in a sport as complex as baseball, and if a team of computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University is to be believed, Oriole fans might have reason to feel hopeful about the two-time All-Star.

A study led by Anton Dahbura, a research scientist in the computer sciences department at Hopkins, revealed a striking dichotomy; while Hardy was all but useless as a hitter in 2016 when the outcome of games was already more or less decided, he hit nearly 200 points higher — more than .290 — when the results hung in the balance.

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