To swing or not to swing
Posted by The Right Reverend on February 23, 2006
Dan Fox from the Hardball Times takes a look at different aspects of swinging, missing, fouling balls off and plate discipline over at Baseball Analysts. A few Cardinals (and an ex-Cardinal) made the top ten in several categories, which I found rather noteworthy..
Yadier Molina ranked in the top 10 among fewest pitches seen per plate appearance, 10th to be exact, seeing 3.24 pitches on average in 421 plate appearances. What does that mean for young Yadi? Well, it means he’s going either improve be more patient and start taking walks, or he’s going to have to start hitting for a higher average or for more power. Sounds simple, right? Right. That isn’t easy, as Fox aptly puts it, but with a terrific May and a decent June that followed a horrific April encourage me that he has potential to be able to do so at least a little of both, but mostly raise the average.
So what about those who swing at the first pitch? Well Ex-Cardinal now Cub John Mabry swung at a whopping 50%, topping the list. Ex-Cub now Oriole “K”orey Patterson ranked second, with 49.1% Mabes was always an aggresive hitter, a feast or famine type player who was fasting more then feasting last year.
Who was the most reluctant to swing at the first pitch? I would’ve guessed it was David Eckstein but it was A’s catcher Jason Kendall. Eck came in forth, swinging at the first pitch a very low 9.5% in 713 PA, making him Mabry’s bizarro-world opposite on the 05 team. David’s patience is key at the top of the order. Eckstein also headed the list of contact hitters, missing only 1.9% of his swings, making him a very pesky lead-off hitter indeed.
Dan also took a look at those who foul off pitches, which conventional thinking tells us is good because it gives a player another chance. Conventional wisdom maybe wrong here, as it’s filled with an ugly group, with the likes of Joe Crede, Toby Hall, AJ Pierzynski, and our own So Taguchi. This is a group of free swingers that usually all their value is strictly in their power or batting average. (Or some have hardly any value at all) As we all know Taguchi usually hits for a decent average, but doesn’t get on base or hit for enough power nearly enough to make him anything better then a reserve. (But much to my chagrin, Tony keeps tauting him as the starter in left field! Ugh!)
Wrapping things up let’s look lastly at some hackers, notably 2 of our new backup middle-infielders, Aaron Miles and Deivi Cruz, who ranked 2nd and 6th on the list of free swingers. Hackers usually don’t get on base (Miles OBP .306, Cruz .298) No wonder it was reported earlier this winter that Miles was on the block for a low A player. These two are already on my turd list, and are why I’m rooting for Hector Luna and Scott Spiezio to make the team this Spring.