Monday, February 8, 2010

Jeff Keppinger, and that low walk rate

A Friday post got some of us wondering about Jeff Keppinger's high percentage of pitch selectivity and the surprisingly low number of walks. So let's take us a gander.

1st Pitch41.486n/a.438
After 1-0148.20814.9%.270
After 2-065.19627.7%.209
After 3-021.00066.7%.000
After 0-1155.2413.2%.270
After 1-1143.2766.3%.308
After 2-186.24312.8%.269
After 3-136.11147.2%.118
After 0-246.1590%.200
After 1-283.2222.4%.053
After 2-269.2884.3%.321
Full Count38.17923.7%.185

Alright, so a little analysis:

-Keppinger had 27 walks in 344 plate appearances, for a 7.8% walk rate.
-Keppinger either hit a home run, or got out in 41 of those appearances (11.9%). It's worth noting that, of Keppinger's seven homers in 2009, three of them came on the first pitch.
-Keppinger's highest OPS in a non-three-ball count was at 1-1, in which he hit .333/.333/.513 (though he hit .486/.500/.857 when connecting on the first pitch.)
-After 3-0, Keppinger walked in 14 of his 21 plate appearances.
-Keppinger got to a three-ball count in just 18.3% of his plate appearances, and worked the count full in 11.0% of his PAs.
-The count he saw the most often was 2-2 (49 PAs), just ahead of 1-2 (47 PAs). With a 2-2 count, Keppinger hit .306/.306/.408.
-He drew a first-pitch ball in 48.8% of plate appearances lasting more than one pitch.
-Keppinger drew just five walks after getting a first-pitch strike. So once he was behind, he was going to stay behind, with OPS' of .592, .424, and .587 (0-1, 0-2, 1-2, respectively).


Peanut said...

Keppinger is an interesting case to evaluate. A deeper look at his abilities explains the low walk rate (and also the low BABIP).

Keppinger doesn't see very many pitches outside the zone because you can challenge him with fastballs. He's able to lay off pitches outside the zone, but he puts pitches in play so well that he sees relatively few pitches per plate appearance.

Thus, if you pound him with fastballs inside (usually middle-low), he winds up pulling most everything and grounding out. Hitting a ton of balls softly to the left side of the infield on the ground isn't a recipe for a good BABIP (especially if you're not a burner). Keppinger can go up the middle and the other way--he's not a dead-pull hitter--but why would you ever let him?

He'll rarely kill you, so you don't have much to lose by challenging him. If he suddenly gains the ability to do more with a fastball, he could be dangerous. It's not terribly likely, though.

The Constable. said...