Oh, right…those guys. The whole city I live in/team I write about thing. Before I got a little carried away with the number crunching, the idea behind my last post was to see how selective the Blue Jays last year. Sometimes it seemed like the entire team was still going after junky breaking balls out of the zone in the 7th inning when the soft-tosser on the mound had been throwing them all game, and the team as a whole was criticized for being unprepared. But were they undisciplined?
First, who took the most hacks at pitches out of the strike zone?
|Blue Jays Swinging Out of Zone|
The league average is 42% so that’s pretty good, really. As noted in my other post, Troy Glaus was the third most selective player in the league last season. The only big problem is our leadoff man swinging at balls more often that he did at strikes. Reed has never been much of a walker (he prefers to get his free passes by getting plunked), but it would sure help him fill that role if he wasn’t such a hacker.
Another oddity is Aaron Hill: his BB% fell from 6.9 -> 6.4 last season, and his K rate skyrocketed from 10.9 -> 15.5. It wasn’t because he was chasing pitches out of the zone, though, as he had one of the best eyes on the Blue Jays. He must have either been taking or swinging through too many good pitches (possibly trying for too much power). Also of note is that Rios was actually chasing more bad pitches than Vernon. It sure didn’t seem that way- it goes to show you don’t notice a player’s weaknesses when the results are there.
Next, here’s the percentage of swings at pitches out of the strike zone that came up empty:
|Blue Jays Whiffs Out of Zone|
The league average whiff percentage is 27.4. As you would expect, Troy Glaus looks kind of stupid when he takes one of his huge cute at a ball out of the zone, which is why he makes sure not to do it very often.
Zaun on the other hand is much more controlled. He grinds out long at bats because if he decides to swing, it’s hard to get even a pitch out of the strike zone by him. The surprise here is that Frank Thomas doesn’t miss the ball when he’s chasing that often. Instead, he makes weak contact:
|Blue Jays BABIP|
This is batting average on balls in play. It reflects how many balls that a player put in play fell for a hit, and thus is heavily affected by luck. But it can also reflect the quality of contact that a hitter is making. If you make a lot of weak or easily fielded contact (like infield popups *cough* Vernon *cough*) your BABIP is going to be low, but if you either totally miss or crunch the ball, it will be high.
The league average usually hovers between .290 – .300, but this year it was .303. For pitches OOZ (by my calculations) it was .296, so hitters made slightly weaker contact on pitches out of the zone. Especially at the start of the season, this was certainly true for Frank Thomas, who seemed to always pop up pitches away from him, and Vernon Wells, who was rolling over outside pitches trying to pull too much and grounding them to the shortstop.
Overall, these numbers show that the Jays as a team have above-average batting eyes, if not necessarily the patience or pitch selection to go along with it. Hopefully Gary Denbo can use that to get the team on track and out of the cellar in on-base percentage next year.