Thursday, May 13, 2010

David Wright's Ever-Increasing Swings-and-Misses

Interesting little thought-provoker on Metsblog today that I wanted to touch on. Perhaps in response to my post from yesterday, Metsblog published a little thoughtful blurb about D-Wright's struggles. In pertinent part, it said:
Yes, he is striking out WAY too much. But, if he puts the ball in play, it tends to fall for a hit – especially against left-handed pitching, and at the same rate from seasons past. I mean, despite all the criticism, the kid is batting .293 and already has nearly as many home runs as he had all of last season.
So yes, good. I agree wholeheartedly. Later on, however, he mentions kind of off-handedly something pretty interesting:
The difference is the swing and misses, which could be because he is getting more pitches outside of the strike zone – evident by his increase in walks, as Ted Berg pointed out to me on Instant Messenger.

Makes sense! The theory jives with what has been happening in real life. However, it takes only a two minute glance at fangraphs to confirm and expand on that little nugget of observation.

This year David Wright is 1) swinging at more pitches out of the zone, 2) swinging at less pitches in the zone, 3) getting less pitches in the strike zone 4) and making less contact on ALL of them. That's.... not good.

So yes, he's getting more pitches out of the zone. In fact, his zone% has decreased from 48.8% to 43.5% (his career rate is over half). But that's not the whole story. His swing and miss percentage has gone from last year's 8.4% and career mark of around 7% to an epic 11.1% this year. He's making worse contact on each and every kind of pitch he is thrown -- and the numbers are at by far the worst rates of his career.

This matches the eye test. He's getting less strikes, he's swinging at more stuff, and he's missing more often. He's missed what seems like dozens of fat fastballs in the strike zone over the last week -- perhaps a side effect of expanding his zone? Who really knows? But Metsblog provided me a little food for thought, and I think it deserved expanding on. David Wright is our best player and these numbers should be cause for concern for everyone, even if he is going well so far this year.

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