With all of the emphasis on raising the angle of the ball off the bat, is there any place for a line drive hitter in baseball?
While launch angles are getting a lot of attention, [adjustments with them have maximized many players game power in the last year alone] adjusting your swing [which is essentially what you are doing] has less to do with the launch angle and a lot more to maximizing your swing in a way that creates effective loft through backspin, power and attack angle. However, some players aren’t strong enough to hit the ball hard for power and who, if they tried to put the ball in the air, would end up with tons and tons of fly outs. So it depends on your skill set. Some line drive hitters who lack fly balls use the whole field and their legs a lot of the time ending up with singles but having to play small ball in order to score runs. These types make great leadoff hitters, second lineup hitters [if your manager does that sort of thing] and second leadoff hitters [aka 9hole bats]. Line drive hitters who can also hit for power also tend to be the most clutch hitters due to frequency of hard hit ball to all fields. Getting back to the line drive hitters without power, they are far more affordable than the players who can hit for power, therefore assembling a team of them would cost a lot less. A lineup with 5-7 contact, line drive, speed types is always something teams dread facing. They’d cost a ton less, have a skill set that works better as a team, and these types work great with manufacturing runs [generally speaking here]. You would have to have these guys back to back to back though, otherwise you may run into a bunch of double plays [assuming you throw a more than couple slow runners in the mix]. The hit tool is always the most valuable tool and in the last 10 years we have seen the teams that are elite with the hit tool, compete for WS. Astros, Cardinals, Royals, Giants, Indians are some examples. So to answer the question, line drive hitters may be more valuable than ever as a cost effective winning option or as elite offensive machines geared for clutch situations [got to be fair some guys who are line drive hitters also have great launch angles and power]. Players elevating the ball more than ever is a great thing for the game, more home runs, more great defensive outfield catches, and as an odd side piece, as a way of creating an under valued way of winning that the big money teams have no reason to take advantage of. Its created a new market, a new way of structuring teams we haven’t seen, and a style of ball perhaps to come back at some point for a team or two, that we haven’t seen in a long time.