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Plate Discipline

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Offline  Plate Discipline
#1

Posted: April 30, 2008, 4:40 AM Post
Posts: 9297
I know that some were complaining that the Brewers weren't swinging enough, so I used some of Fangraph's data to take a quick look at restricted my study to the regulars (Kapler isn't one anymore):

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Explanation

So, even though the Brewers have been thrown about 2% more strikes than average, they have swung less often overall. They swing at pitches outside of the zone an average amount of the time but have swung at balls in the zone 6.5% less often than league average! Perhaps those complainers were on to something. A couple quick comments about individual players.

Weeks: His O-Swing% looks really pretty, until you realize it's a result of "fake plate discipline". It's not that he's been better at identifying pitches than the average batter, he's simply not swinging at pitches very often overall. Worse still, while he's swung 5.1% less often at a ball out of the zone, he's swung at a ball in the zone 11.1% less often!

Braun: Among the Crew, has swung most often at balls out of the zone and is among the lead leaders in that stat. Is done a lot of swining overall, which probably surprises no one.

Fielder: Teams haven't given him much to hit, which I think has more to do with stature in the league than his propensity to swing at those balls. He's actually shown some nice patience at the plate, taking what they give him.

What else might these numbers suggest?


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#2

Posted: April 30, 2008, 4:52 AM Post
Posts: 408
What else might these numbers suggest?

Rickie's got his approach backwards, Braun is out of control, and Prince is making due with what's given to him?

I really don't know the answer to the question, but it seems like you're presenting us with a "teaching moment" that I'm trying to decipher. Perhaps it could suggest that Rickie is under orders to take pitches, Braun has been told to swing away, and Prince is still taking what's being given to him? Or maybe event that sooner rather later there's going to be some big time slump busting from the top of the order once they stop looking for a "specific" pitch and start getting aggressive after pitches that are "in the zone"? I'm looking forward to the rest of the discussion on this question.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#3

Posted: April 30, 2008, 4:57 AM Post
Posts: 1071
I think weeks is totally messed up by hitting leadoff. Ned should just tell him to forget about taking pitches "for the good of the team" because if he starts swinging at some of those strikes, the outcome probably will be for the good of the team.

Braun is hacking too much. I believe he's doing it more than last season. Can you corroborate that?


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#4

Posted: April 30, 2008, 4:58 AM Post
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Is there a major difference between swing percentage based on batting position? Should we expect leadoff hitters to be more picky and try and milk more walks versus a 5/6 hitter who is up there hacking? Just curious where Weeks fits in versus other leadoff hitters. Weeks has been getting bashed lately, but his OBP does not look nearly as bad as his BA.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#5

Posted: April 30, 2008, 4:59 AM Post
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Rickie's got his approach backwards

What about Kapler then, whose %s are roughly the same?

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#6

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:01 AM Post
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Thanks for posting that, that's some interesting stuff to look at. It can be ungodly frustrating watching Braun bat. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like he'll swing when they're high out of the zone or low out of the zone, but not necessarily inside or outside. Can anyone else comment on that or am I just imagining thinigs?


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#7

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:03 AM Post
Posts: 408
What about Kapler then, whose %s are roughly the same?

Sorry TLB, I was trying to be a little tongue-in-cheek there. I should have posted that sentance in blue. I'm guessing that could mean that Rickie's just got bad luck right now?

The biggest differnce I notice is the contact % between Weeks and Kapler.


Last edited by Anonymous on April 30, 2008, 5:14 AM, edited 1 time in total.

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Offline  Plate Discipline
#8

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:03 AM Post
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In Adam McCalvey's mailbag the other day (4/28) on brewers.com, he answered a question about Rickie saying that it was his job as a lead off hitter to see a few more pitches so that other batters could get a good look at the pitcher.

But it seems to me that that shouldn't raise his "fake plate discipline" that much since he really only has to do it once per game (unless the opposing team switches pitchers right before he comes up to bat).

I have wondered if Rickie wasn't "over doing" the plate discipline.

Is there any evidence, ever, of a person who truly learns plate discipline? Or do your numbers pretty much stay within a range throughout your career?



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Offline  Plate Discipline
#9

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:12 AM Post
Posts: 408
With regard to Braun. I've noticed over the last couple games that he's had some nice at bats where he runs the count 2-0 or 2-1 and seems to make up his mind to take one more pitch which tends to be a fastball down the middle. I didn't pay close enough attention to point out the specific at bats that I'm thinking about, it just seems that I've noticed him being conscious of not swinging at junk early in the count and then panicking into swinging at everything once he takes a strike.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#10

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:12 AM Post
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Anyway to find out what Rickie's stats looked like the last 8 weeks of 2007? His average was, well...average, but his OBP and Runs Scored were among the league's best. He was being lauded for his plate discipline, now he's a target. I think the stats show he's underperforming more modestly than some might think.

Braun seems to be the one suffering from some poor ABs. He's been falling for that outside off the plate pitch. If he lays off it a little better, he might see more inside pitches he can drive.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#11

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:17 AM Post
Posts: 408
I don't know what Rickie's stats looked like as expressed by a similar chart to what Rluz provided, but in those seven weeks, I believe that he did everything that we expect of him exceedingly well. He showed excellent discipline by the number of BBs he amassed but he also just crushed the ball when he made contact and the benefit was his SLG (and OBP of course).


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#12

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:42 AM Post
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Well there's the statistical evidence (like we needed any) that Braun is swinging a ton. He sees the 2nd fewest strikes on the team but it hasn't halted his propensity to swing. Hopefully he'll improve on that as the season rolls on.

With Weeks only seeing 51.3 % of pitches in the zone, yes it wouldn't hurt to swing at the first pitch fastball. Especially when he has troubles poking a pitch off the plate into right for a hit like Corey or Ryan do. He swung at the first pitch fb last night with the bases loaded and it resulted in a centered lineout right at Theriot unfortunately.

Prince took advantage of his strikes last night in his first two at-bats. He knows he's not seeing a lot of pitches to hit, so in run-producing positions he jumped on the first hittable pitch he saw.

Last night, I started my month long documenting of Brewer hitters taking the first pitch. Hopefully I'll be able to tell if the approach changes somewhat this month, and document the results from that.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#13

Posted: April 30, 2008, 5:52 AM Post
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Should we expect leadoff hitters to be more picky and try and milk more walks
Yes, we should. The problem is that Rickie isn't picky about his pitches. He just takes some pitches and swings at others, and it seems like it's kinda random. If it's a bad pitch, you take it. If it's a good pitch, you swing. But for some reason, it just seems like these guy have this idea that if it's a certain count, you take it. Gut-reaction, but it has always felt like Rickie will take pitches until strike 2, then he'll start swinging. The problem is that it's 0-2, 1-2, or 2-2, and he ends up swinging at crap because the pitcher knows he'll swing at it.

If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.
~Nottso


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#14

Posted: April 30, 2008, 6:13 AM Post
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Sorry TLB, I was trying to be a little tongue-in-cheek there. I should have posted that sentance in blue. I'm guessing that could mean that Rickie's just got bad luck right now?

Oh, missed that. Sorry!


The problem is that Rickie isn't picky about his pitches.

I don't fully agree with this. I think Weeks has some of the best pitch recognition on the team. He appears to read breaking balls well out of the pitchers' hands. It's been relatively rare that Weeks has had to even check his swing on a breaking pitch that misses the zone. I want him to be more aggressive too, but he's made several 'loud' outs so far this season.

Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#15

Posted: April 30, 2008, 6:27 AM Post
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TooLiveBrew said:
The problem is that Rickie isn't picky about his pitches.

I don't fully agree with this. I think Weeks has some of the best pitch recognition on the team. He appears to read breaking balls well out of the pitchers' hands. It's been relatively rare that Weeks has had to even check his swing on a breaking pitch that misses the zone. I want him to be more aggressive too, but he's made several 'loud' outs so far this season.

Eh, I think you're right. Like I said, it was mostly gut-reaction, and a lot of it may have been based on last year before he came back up. He used to really like that breaking pitch outside.

I would just like to see him be a little bit more aggressive on the 1st pitch. Obviously not all the time, but enough that he gets it into the pitcher's head so they don't just take a free 0-1 count every time.


If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.
~Nottso


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#16

Posted: April 30, 2008, 6:34 AM Post
Posts: 9297
No teaching moment. Just made the chart and mde some quick stabs at some observations. I wanted to see if I was missing any other interesting nuggets.

One thing to point out. These numbers tell us what has happened for tirst month of the season but may not be representative of the particular batter.s general approach. It wouldn't surprise me to see some very different results for May.

I wish we could see these numbers by pitch count but I'd have to use :itch fx data for that, apparently.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#17

Posted: April 30, 2008, 6:43 AM Post
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The two pitches that I've noticed Weeks having problems with so far are the breaking pitch down and away. Braun has the same problems as well. When they're going well they're taking this pitch a lot. The other, which surprises me, is the fastball in. He's struck out looking quite a few times this year on that pitch.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#18

Posted: April 30, 2008, 6:50 AM Post
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Corey Hart seems to have a decent eye so far. But his zone is so different from a normal zone (due to his height) you might not be able to trust the data.


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Offline  Plate Discipline
#19

Posted: April 30, 2008, 6:51 AM Post
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Rickie also has the problem of not having a short, compact, high contact swing. Some guys can hit when behind in the count (Kendall) and some simply can't do it. I think Rickie falls in the latter category.

I'm trying to get somthing out of these numbers, but the categories are so intertwined it might be impossible. For example, if Rickie swung more at strikes, it will result in more hits. But it will reduce the number of pitches seen, and the number of pitches thrown as strikes. That will reduce the number of hits. So how do you figure out the result of Rickie swinging at more pitches mathematically?

The poster previously known as Robin19, now @RFCoder
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Offline  Plate Discipline
#20

Posted: April 30, 2008, 7:07 AM Post
Posts: 10279
Weeks's big problem this year is that he isn't driving the ball. His LD% is down to 11.5% where it was at 17.1% last season. That really driving down his BABIP.


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