It is much easier for baseball teams to scout talent now than it was in the past. You see, the modern ways of the world have resulted in the innovation of phenomenal technology—support that has made it easier for teams to assess the true worth of their baseball players.
Advanced metrics have been configured and designed to calculate a player’s individual performance and his effectiveness in the game. However, popular metrics and other stats, such as batting averages, batter hits, on-base percentage, and sluggish percentage, more often than not, fail to grasp the true contribution of a position player towards his teamʼs goals via smaller moments.
QAB stands for quality-at-bat and, fortunately, helps teams identify players who make positive contributions towards their team objectives during their plate appearance. If you’re a curious person who has played baseball before, you must be itching to find out what QAB really means in baseball.
What Does QAB Mean in Baseball?
QAB somewhat measures the quality of a batter in terms of how he uses the rules of baseball to his advantage and bats a productive game, as per the demands of the situation (team goal). In the simplest of terms, you could say that a quality-at-bat is an at-bat who makes a positive contribution on his plate appearance towards his teamʼs objectives.
And, quality-at-bat is often recognized as the total at-bats score percentage of the productive at-bats.
So, what does QAB mean in baseball? Well, a quality-at-bat is an unsung hero. He is someone who never makes the highlight reel.
He isnʼt talked about glowingly either. However, his contribution can often be the deciding factor between the success and failure of a baseball team. In other words—he is a game-changer.
What Are Some Examples of Quality-at-Bats Contributions in Baseball?
There are several methods through which a player can have a quality-at-bat contribution. Some of the examples include
- Dropping a successful sacrifice bunt that allows runners to get into a scoring position.
- Getting a sacrifice fly (can be referred to as a sac fly or sacrifice fly) or sacrifice bunt and, thus, enabling the baserunner to either move up or score at home plate.
- Working the opposing pitcher overtime by having a long at-bat plate appearance, thereby increasing the pitcher’s pitch count and tiring him out. In doing so, you also provide your team with more opportunities to pick up (study) the delivery and pitches of the opposing pitcher.
- Successfully hitting the ball hard for a home run during your batting turn (or run scoring hit) after taking many pitches. (Quality-at-bats are recorded after a player lasts for six or more pitches.)
- Scoring a hit-and-run or hit by pitch
- Shifting over to 3rd base from the 2nd base with 0 outs.
- Having a 2 out RBI.
- Successfully helping a baserunner move over by way of a ground ball out to the right part of the diamond.
As you can see, your high batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, etc., donʼt count for much when figuring out your quality-at-bat (QAB) score. In other words—just because you excel in other departments doesnʼt necessarily correlate to a mean QAB score too.
A QAB cares more about helping his team achieve its goal. He isn’t afraid to drop sacrifice flies or sacrifice bunts (also known as a sac bunt) if it means helping the team.
How Crucial Are Quality-at-Bats?
As I mentioned earlier, quality-at-bats are the unsung heroes in the sport of baseball. Every MLB team stands to gain a lot from having QABs in its lineup.
Since they are often overlooked, it is important to understand how they can change the outcome of a game. So, letʼs take a look at how they can offer positive contributions in a game scenario.
Letʼs say that a baseball game in the bottom of the sixth inning is tied at 5-5, with a runner at third base with one out, and a hitter ready to swing his bat. Since the infield is deployed at the back, any type of ground ball hit is bound to score the runner.
But, instead of going for the obvious i.e., making ball contact, the hitter goes all out with his bat and records a strike out.
As the situation plays out, it appears that will remain the only moment where the home team will have a runner ready in a scoring position for the remainder of the game. Thereby, they lose 6-5 in the eleventh inning.
Now, we canʼt completely blame the hitter in the sixth inning for not recording a ground out to score a run. However, if only the offensive baseball player kept his cool and went for the small hard-hit ball play instead of getting greedy and going for an at-bat extra base hit.
The result would have been different if only he went for what the situation demanded as expected of quality-at-bats. Not all base hits are considered quality-at-bat hits.
How Do You Calculate Quality-at-Bat Percentage Score?
Thankfully, calculating quality-at-bats percentage is as simple as a walk in the park. You simply have to divide quality-at-bat moments by plate appearances and multiply by 100.
For instance, letʼs assume that you had 70 good quality plate appearances during a season. In that period, letʼs say that you were able to record 30 quality-at-bat moments.
Now, when we do the math, you will have a QAB percentage of 42.85%. Then, you can compare your QAB score with another player and figure how you measure up.
Quality-at-bat (QAB), like other metrics, can be expertly used to improve player performance, team performance, and build a winning baseball team as shown in the movie, Moneyball, which is based on the money ball theory.
However, unlike other metrics, such as OBP (on-base percentages), hard-hit balls (HHB), pinch hitter striking percentage, batting average, home runs, and slugging percentage of players, the quality-at-bat metric is often overlooked by young hitters for some reason.
However, as we’ve seen above, quality-at-bats is actually crucial when playing baseball.