Saturday, June 20, 2009

Praise for a few announcers

The normal thing for bloggers to do is wait for announcers to say something stupid, then write a post explaining exactly how they are stupid. Whole websites have been built around this concept. Sometimes, though, credit is due.

Today's game of the week features Tampa Bay and the Mets. David Wright is currently hitting .350 but is on pace for 170 strikeouts and only 10 homers. It is certainly a weird season. Ken Rosenthal brought these numbers and mentioned Wright's .480 BABIP. Even Tim McCarver seemed to grasp regression to the mean, as he (rightly) doesn't think Wright will continue striking out at a 170K pace. It was a discussion you'd be more likely to read at a site like the Hardball Times.

Wright is having an odd mixture of good and bad luck. There's some bad luck in that he's not making contact with balls he normally hits. Some bad luck in that balls he normally hits out of the park are staying in. And quite a bit of good luck in that balls he does contact are dropping in for hits. The thing about Wright is that he's not the best at any aspect of the game, but is well above average at just about everything. It's weird to see him with an extreme BABIP, and an extreme whiff rate.

I would think Wright will almost certainly hit more like his .300, 30 hr, 115K self from here on than the statistical freak he's been so far. He's having as good a season as he normally does, but it is difficult to see how one could consciously trade off one's abilities to get to where he is now.

Want a higher BA at the expense of homers? This can probably be done by shortening your swing, going with the pitch, etc., but that approach should decrease your strikeout rate, not increase it.

If you consciously swing harder, and do so at the expense of strikeouts, I can see where such an approach could increase your BABIP and your K rate at the same time. But that would approach should not kill your power, should it?

I'll add a little batted ball data from Fangraphs. Wright is hitting slightly more line drives (25% to 23% career) at the expense of ground balls. Not a big enough increase to explain the huge BABIP increase. He's hit 3 more line drives than his career averages would expect, yet has 20 more hits in play. His flyball percentage is unchanged, so it's hard to see why he's stopped hitting homers.

Just a weird season for Wright, but I expect him to display his normal profile of skills going forward.

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