Earlier this month, I noted that hitters are chasing fewer pitches and seeking out fastballs in the zone. It’s one thing batters can do to fight back against the rising pitching talent and increased strikeouts. It seemed to me that every time I looked into a hitter potentially breaking out this season, I saw the same pattern: fewer swings on pitches outside the zone and a rising wRC+.
- It was true for George Springer, who took over the AL WAR lead.
- Hunter Dozier seemed to benefit greatly from better discipline.
- Jason Heyward’s mini-resurgence seemed due to better plate recognition.
- Paul DeJong took a step forward by mashing balls in the strike zone and avoiding those outside of it.
There comes a point when writing about the same thing over and over again becomes presumptuous if we can’t quite be sure that the benefits will last. To that end, I first went through plate discipline numbers from this season to determine if chasing fewer pitches seemed to help batters like I think it should. First, I looked at all hitters with at least 300 plate appearances in 2018 who were also qualified for the batting title as of May 13 of this year. While we can presume that taking pitches outside the strike zone is a skill, and one that stabilizes pretty quickly based on previous research, here’s how the numbers from last season and this one match up as of Tuesday’s data. Read the rest of this entry »