Friday, February 5, 2010

A long note on Plate Discipline

As I feel like I'm slacking off a little bit, I thought I'd try to do something to redeem myself by taking a significant amount of time to look at the plate discipline of our chosen team. All data is courtesy of FanGraphs.

A note: I set the minimum PAs at 200. This way we don't take Chris Johnson, who was swinging just to get a little exercise, out of context.

A Glossary:
O-Swing%: Percentage of pitches outside the strike zone resulting in a swing
O-Contact%: Pitch% outside of the strike zone in which a batter made contact
Z-Swing%: Pitch% inside the strike zone resulting in a swing
Z-Swing%: Pitch% inside the strike zone resulting in contact
Swing%: Total percentage of pitches resulting in a swing
Contact%: Total percentage of pitches in which a batter made contact


A few things to note here:

-The two players who would swing at the highest percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone (Pudge - 38.9% and Tejada - 32.5%) are gone. And Blum, with the 4th-highest percentage, has been reduced to a utility role.
-Jeff Keppinger is incredibly selective, but we already knew that. That said, he had the highest percentage of contact with pitches outside of the strike zone.
-Hunter Pence has the lowest rate of contact on the team (76.7%)
-I didn't list it in the above table, but Lance Berkman saw the fewest percentage of pitches in the strike zone (45.4%). Next was Geoff Blum (?) (46.2%).

It's an appropriate time to list Pedro Feliz in here, and if we could, we'd put Tommy Manzella and Towles/Quintero. But we can't. Sample size is too small. So Happy Pete it is (with Blum relisted for comparative purposes):


So. Feliz swings at a slightly higher percentage of pitches outside the strike zone, but connects more often. He also is more selective inside the strike zone than Blum, but also connects more often. Feliz also swings more often, and makes more contact. Yay.

For a note of qualification, this is just a look at plate discipline, not batting average, slugging percentage, ball placement, etc. We're just looking at who pounces on strikes, and who lays off balls. (snickering).



OremLK said...

Very interesting, thanks for the data. What surprises me the most is seeing the comparison of Keppinger with guys like Berkman. You'd think Kepp was due for a big jump in on-base percentage (if he gets significant playing time again).

But what's a little odd is that his career walk percentage (7.0 percent) is not particularly good despite how selective he is at the plate. It makes me wonder if his swing/contact numbers change a lot in certain counts, like 3-1 or any 2 strike count.

The other reason Keppinger's OBP was only .320 is because his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) isn't very high. I'd speculate this is because he doesn't have a lot of power. Berkman's career BABIP is .326, while Keppinger's is .286.

That said, Kepp is still due for an increase in his OBP and slugging, I think, because his BABIP this year was only .268 as compared to his career numbers. Bill James and CHONE both project him to bat for approximately .345 OBP and .745 OPS.

Lane said...

Great analysis. I was kind of surprised to see that Pence's overall percentage of swinging was only 47.9%. Is this significantly lower than his 2008 percentage?

Peanut said...

Good analysis by all. Lane, Pence did swing less this season, but not by a huge amount. He's swung less each season, though, and his biggest stride in that area was laying off the low & away slider more often. He's still got some serious issues with his overall approach and pitch selection, but he's made progress and I expect him to continue to do so.

What I'd really like to see--to expand on something OremLK hit on a bit concerning Keppinger and Berkman--is good data on type of contact made. Not just GB/FB/LD rates, but hard facts on velocity, direction, and angle off the bat. I think a lot of the confusion surrounding BABIP will be cleared up by that.

In other words, HitFX data can't get here soon enough. When you combine it with PitchFX, you're likely to find that BABIP is much more a measure of hitters' ability rather than luck. For instance, hitters who make hard contact and hit to all fields/lay off pitches they can't do anything with--rather than trying to pull everything, for example, and rolling over on outside pitches--will be shown to have the best BABIP.

The Constable. said...

+1 to OremLK and Peanut.

@OremLK: I'm doing some work this evening (wife's Girls Night Out. This is how I roll.) on Keppinger at the plate to make a little bit of sense of it.

@Peanut: HitFX might ruin my life. I wouldn't have a job, certainly wouldn't have a wife. HitTrackerOnline measures those things, but just on home runs, not for everything.

Joe said...

Thats pretty funny. You should give yourself a +1.