Tuesday, May 22, 2012

There is no plate discipline

This, from The Trib:
“You watch video, and you see we’re getting pitches to hit, but we’re not hitting them. We’re not going crazy, chasing outside. When you’re hitting what we’re hitting as a team ... it’s like blood in the water for a shark. Pitchers are going after us. They’re not backing away or trying to pitch cute. They’re not pitching around anybody. They’re pitching to the bats and having success.” - Clint Hurdle

No. No. No no no. I don't know what video Clint is watching. It's possible he's colorblind, and it's actually a tape of the Cleveland Indians. I've seen enough awful plate appearances by the Pirates this year to tell you that yes, they swing at everything within 2 miles of the stadium. I'm not sure these guys are aware that they don't have to swing at every pitch. Franco suggests we send these guys up to the plate without bats and instruct them to lean in and get hit by pitches.

How bad is it? Well, let's look at the data. The Pirates swing at 34.2% of pitches out of the strike zone. That's WORST IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. That's right, the Pirates swing at pitches out of the strike zone more often than every other major league team. Also, pitchers aren't going after the Pirates, as Clint claims. The Bucs are in the middle of the pack regarding the proportion of pitches they see that are in the strike zone. And guess what? It took me a laptop, a coffee shop internet connection, and about 90 seconds to dig that up. Yes Clint, your hitters are going crazy, chasing outside, and there's no excuse for you to not know this.  Let's take a look at the individual hitters. MLB hitters, on average, swing at 29.5% of pitches outside the strike zone this year.


Name O-Swing%
Clint Barmes 49.30%
Josh Harrison 44.80%
Garrett Jones 41.30%
Rod Barajas 40.60%
Pedro Alvarez 35.10%
Jose Tabata 33.10%
Andrew McCutchen 31.80%
Neil Walker 30.80%
Alex Presley 30.00%
MLB average 29.50%
Casey McGehee 26.60%
Yamaico Navarro 25.80%
Nate McLouth 24.60%
Michael McKenry 22.30%

These guys have no plate discipline. It's easy to see visually, and it's even easier to look up the actual data. But I guess it's hard to fix anything when no one even thinks there's a problem.

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