If you know one thing about Kolten Wong, you probably know that he’s a great defender. Honestly, great defender might be underselling it. Since 2014, his first full year in the bigs, he’s third in Defensive Runs Saved at second base. Maybe UZR is more your speed? Wong is third there, too. This isn’t some trick of innings played, either — he’s fourth in UZR/150 among qualifiers. He hasn’t won a Gold Glove yet, but it’s not because he doesn’t deserve it.
If you know Kolten Wong for a second thing, you probably know him for the endless flashes of potential, the bumpy road he’s followed throughout his major league career. In 2013, when he’d barely had a cup of coffee in the regular season, he got picked off of first base to end a World Series game. After two average-ish seasons in the majors, he found himself playing the outfield (?!) so that the team could squeeze more at-bats out of… um… Matt Adams? Brandon Moss? Greg Garcia? Mike Matheny-run teams had some interesting substitution patterns, let me tell you.
In any case, whatever you know about Kolten Wong, elite plate discipline probably isn’t on your list. After all, Wong is on the field for defense. Take a look at his yearly wRC+ numbers, starting with his first full year: 90, 96, 85, 107, 98. Those numbers are totally acceptable for a premium defender (Wong’s career wRC+ bests Andrelton Simmons’), but they also lead to batting at the bottom of the lineup more often than not.
Here’s the thing, though: Wong is certifiably great at controlling walks and strikeouts. It’s not just a 2019 thing, though it’s certainly been the case so far in 2019. Take a look at the list of qualified batters with more walks than strikeouts this year:
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