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Washington Nationals: Early Season Plate Discipline

April 15, 2010

Adam Dunn

I few months ago, I posted a 2009 recap of the Nats plate discipline (see the post here: Nats Plate Discipline). Although it’s still  very early in the season to get any meaningful stats, I thought it would be interesting to start a monthly 2010 plate discipline posting. We’ll keep posting this every month and track the changes throughout the season. Obviously, as the season progresses, we hope that the Nats hitters will migrate towards above average walk rates, and below average strikeout rates.

Here are the numbers after the first 8 games:

Walk and Strikeout Rates Through 4/14/2010

We can plot this same information to show the walk rate (x-axis) vs the strikeout rate (y-axis). I computed the MLB rates through April 14th. There have been 10,019 plate appearances, resulting in 955 walks (9.53%) and 1791 strikeouts (17.88%). Here is the chart – the orange lines represent the MLB walk rate and strikeout rate.

Walk and Strikeout rates Through 4/14/2010

The first thing that jumps out is Adam Dunn’s 32.35% walk rate. Coupled with his 20.59% strikeout rate, Dunn has not put the ball in play in over half of his total appearances to date. Compare this to the 2009 chart:

2009 Walk and Strikeout Rates

So far this year, Ryan Zimmerman has gone to the plate as the Mad Hacker. In 2009, he was below the MLB average in strikeout rate, and above average in walk rate. In 2010, Zimmerman has struck out 8 times in 20 appearances, while drawing only 1 walk. He has only put the ball in play in 55% of his appearances.

Team strikeouts are story line to watch into next month. Desmond, Dunn, and Zimmerman have struck out in 30% of their 2010 appearances. Add the right field platoon of Harris, Taveras, and Morse, and 4 positions have a strikeout rate of 29.5%.

It’s only 8 games into the season. Strikeouts weren’t an issue last year, and weren’t a problem this spring. Hopefully, when we check back next month, the Nats will be making contact.

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