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Nats Plate Discipline

February 12, 2010

Last week, I extended Rich Lederer’s productivity analysis to the Nats offense in Nats Powerful Productivity. In a new blog on the Baseball Analysts site, Rich explores plate discipline (Graphing the Hitters: Plate Discipline).  Let’s look at how the Nats did in 2009…

In the plate discipline post, Rich graphed walks per plate appearance vs strikeouts per plate appearance. The MLB average BB/AP is 8.88%. The MLB average K/AP is 17.96%. I plotted each of those averages as dashed lines on the graph, creating four quadrants.

In the lower right quadrant, players have a below average strikeout ratio, and an above average walk ratio.  As expected, this quadrant is dominated by the big names – Ryan Zimmerman, Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Nick Johnson

In the upper right quadrant, players have a higher than average strikeout ratio, and a higher than average walk ratio.  Look at Mark Reynolds.  45% of the time, he either walks or strikes out!

The lower left quadrant is where the free swingers and leadoff hitters reside.  In this quadrant, batters both walk and strikeout less than MLB averages.  Miguel Tejada is the standout here.  He puts the ball in play in over 90% of his plate appearances.

The upper left quadrant is no man’s land.  Batters walk less than the MLB average, and they also strikeout more than average. In 2009, our own Pudge Rodriguez was one of the MLB’s leaders in this dubious category.

All in all the Nats are about where you would expect them to be. However, two players could really up their numbers in 2010 with a little more discipline. Adam Dunn needs to get his strikeout rate down, and Pudge needs to get his walk rate up. Pudge has probably the biggest opportunity for improvement on the team. He is a veteran catcher, who hit .251 last year. At this point in his career, he should know where the strike zone is.

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