A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

David Wright

This blog is pretty much dedicated to a few things... the players that we like, the events that happen, and who's striking out WAY too much. For that, we start our series of batting futility with the joy of math.
If we take the top 12 strikeout victims (down to the 4th slot on this list - tied for 8th place), we have 4 batters who have whiffed so much that their average is under .200. The high water mark is 31 air conditioner swings. Ryan Raburn has 3 jacks to go with those 31 Ks. Over his years in the bigs, he has 42 homers. If he continues at his current pace, he will DOUBLE his career strikeouts. Dexter Fowler has no shots over the wall in a batter friendly park for this year, and if that doesn't scream no power, he only has 10 home runs in his short career (however, he does take walks and steal bases).
Jack Cust, Kelly Johnson, Austin Jackson, and Adam Dunn are all sub-Mendoza, and Ryan Howard leads the batting average with a .293.
Only David Wright, Drew Stubbs, and Ryan Howard have hit 5 or more home runs for all of their free swinging. For that matter, Adam Dunn only has 2 jacks.
If we take this out to 42nd place (22 strikeouts), we can see a pattern emerge: a high batting average and lots of home runs are the outliers.
There are 3 success stories on the list (Rickie Weeks - .309 despite 22 whiffs, Matt Kemp - .378 despite 23 whiffs, and Peter Bourjos - .318 with 26 jacks). There are 12 sub .200 hitters. If we take the Mendoza Line out to .225 (as some do), there are 8 more guys on the list. That's half of the batters being unproductive 80% (give or take) of the time! Many more could join the list with a few more Ks and a few less hits. What does this say?
Only 13 of the 42 batters have 5 or more home runs, and none of these guys has more than 6 (7) long balls (Chris Young - with 105 career jacks in 651 games played). Then again, when you're playing for a team that is out of the playoffs in March (Arizona), you can pretty much do whatever you want in a non-contending year (if homers and homers alone sells bobble heads and jerseys).
Mark "the King" Reynolds makes the list at 29 (2 homers to show for his 23 put outs by catcher). That said, this is a good year for him.
But what does it really mean to be standing there and caught looking... to not advance the runner... to not put oneself on base... to essentially waste an at bat in hopes of the 1/30 chance of a home run (or in the case of Young, 7/97)? All in all, it's futility. It's playing a game because you still believe that chicks dig the long ball when it should be played to bring the runs across and win the game for your team. Maris was willing to bunt to give his team the chance to win when the home run record was on the line in 61... why aren't these guys willing to play team ball?

Tomorrow, we look at the pitching stats that show how much the pitchers of today are benefiting from the "swing away" mentality that Merrill and Graham gave to the world.

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