The Mockingbird

Is Scutaro for Real?

with 8 comments

The Star published some love in a piece about Scutaro yesterday, and superlative scouting company Inside Edge followed up with some cold hard facts. Nice to see Scoot’s increased patience and discipline in the leadoff role confirmed as something other than facing wild pitchers, but this confuses me:

Despite slugging just .356 with seven home runs in 2008, Scutaro tied for second-best in the league in hard-hit balls per swing, alongside some impressive company…

Hard-hit balls go for a higher BABIP (batting average on balls in play), so even forgetting about power numbers, you would expect Scutaro’s average last year to have been a lot better while he was putting good wood on the ball with the likes of Mauer, Ramirez, Pujols, and errrr…Rios. Especially, when he is also apparently the 9th best in the league at making contact.

But it doesn’t look like an unlucky season, in fact his numbers were almost exactly what his career has predicted of him. So what gives – does Scutaro have some unusual ability to hit balls hard but right at people, or to the track, or is he coming out of the worst spell of bad luck of all time?

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Written by halejon

April 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Seriousness

8 Responses

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  1. Great post. It got me thinking. I came to the conclusion that where his balls in contact go are so repeatable that the defense alignment is taking away a number of would be hits.

    matthias @ mopupduty.com

    April 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm

  2. The Baseball Prospectus book had good things to say about Scutaro.

    I was surprised when I read that – but it looks like they’re right.

    I think the gist was – he’s not an uber 40 home run kind of short stop – but he’s certainly better than average at the plate and on the field and the Jays could do a lot worse.

    It was about as complimentary as they were about anyone on the team.

    Chris

    April 22, 2009 at 8:52 pm

  3. Matthias: Hmmm…that got me thinking. It could also be since he doesn’t have any deep power, they play him so shallow that a lot of his hard hit liners gets taken away.

    halejon

    April 23, 2009 at 4:22 am

  4. I was just going to say something snarky about calling Scoot _certainly_ better than average at the plate when I looked it up and the average SS had an OPS of .694 last year. Scutaros was .697.

    *shakes fist*

    halejon

    April 23, 2009 at 4:27 am

  5. Are we talking BABIP or xBABIP? Because BABIP varies alot depending on GB/FB and LD rates.

    If you put the ball in play 35% of the time but 28% of the times its on the ground it doesn’t accompish much.

    the expos

    April 23, 2009 at 10:18 am

  6. It’s BABIP but his GB% isn’t particularly high…and his LD% is always ~ 20%.

    halejon

    April 23, 2009 at 1:17 pm

  7. Jon – just read your hardball times article. Good stuff!

    On Scutaro, I have a hypothesis; he’s always been a talented player who has wanted to play and please his coaches. Sometimes the fact that he probably always does what his manager/hitting coach has wanted from him has come between him and his stat line. Cito is just letting him play and be Marco Scutaro and is probably the best fit as a manager/hitting coach the guy has ever had… he’ll cool at some point, of course, but Cito’s management style will not come between Scoot-er and his stat line. Heh. I didn’t say the hypothesis was particularly testable.

    From watching defense line up against him him, I think agree with what you commented earlier. The shallower than normal play of OF against him takes away some base hits that better hitters would easily get.

    At any rate, I’ll get to see that tonight (and get a good view of the Millwood and Richmond fastball). Two “in-the-action” seats trickled down to me (I invited my mom as I’ll probably be out of town on Mother’s Day and her Dad instilled the love of baseball/Blue Jays in me in the early 80s). I’m hoping to see Alex Rios hit one out and a Jays win. That is all. Unfortunately, I will not have a camera with me. Can’t win ‘em all, not even in the ivory tower of academe.

    Christopher Taylor

    April 23, 2009 at 3:33 pm

  8. Update: Scutaro looked not great. The ump looked like he was liberal on the low strike especially early in the game; must’ve had a date with someone.

    Got what I expected from Richmond. Millwood looked better than I expected but if a hitter guess right on a fastball it is very hit-able. League looked better than I’ve seen him in a long time.

    Josh Hamilton is amazing.

    Christopher Taylor

    April 24, 2009 at 12:34 am


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