2013 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2013 Fantasy Baseball, Plate Discipline: Third Basemen

Like regular sports, fantasy sports is a results driven business. That being said, smart fantasy players have followed the thinking of innovative front offices in the sport. Whether you want to call it Moneyball thinking or simply a new wave is your call. However, they are using more and more complex data to help them scout and sign the better players.

In this case, we are looking at what I would call the difference between process and results. We could also label process as a player’s approach to hitting. Even though we don’t give out awards for great approaches, we know that looking at a player’s approach (or process) will predict the future a lot more accurately than simply looking at his basic performance numbers. We will highlight some of those examples shortly.

When looking at the numbers we have, the swing rate on balls really identifies process most closely. The other numbers we could categorize as results. Of course, they aren’t results in the same sense that AVG, HR, Runs, RBI, and SB are results. However, the better the results from these plate discipline numbers eventually adds up to better traditional numbers.

SwStr

SO/BB

SWB

Contact

Placido Polanco

3.0

1.31

31.1

92.6

Alberto Callaspo

3.1

0.84

24.9

91.3

Martin Prado

3.6

1.49

29.7

90.8

Jamey Carroll

3.7

1.91

22.8

90.5

Michael Young

5.3

1.39

23.8

86.9

Adrian Beltre

6.7

1.58

35.8

86.0

Kyle Seager

7.0

1.85

24.7

82.2

Manny Machado

7.0

3.14

26.1

83.9

Luis Valbuena

7.4

1.34

26.2

81.4

Conor Gillaspie

7.9

2.30

25.1

82.5

David Wright

8.0

1.51

27.3

82.2

Ryan Zimmerman

8.0

2.22

25.9

78.3

Evan Longoria

8.1

2.64

33.3

79.8

Matt Dominguez

8.1

5.32

33.3

82.7

Nolan Arenado

8.3

2.33

39.9

85.5

Michael Young– Philadelphia Phillies

Young is a perfect example of the fact that plate discipline can look different depending on the hitter. He is a low walk hitter which would have translated to poor plate discipline when Moneyball was first coming out. However, he is also a low strikeout hitter, so he still exhibits good on base skills. This can be seen with his low rate of swinging at balls outside the zone. Only Jamey Carroll had a lower rate among third basemen.

The problem with Michael Young is that he hits a lot of singles. That really isn’t shown here, but it affects his value as a fantasy player. His poor defense does not affect his fantasy value, but it does affect his overall value as a player. It will eventually get him out of the game before his bat is ready to leave.

Manny Machado– Baltimore Orioles

Machado qualifies as one of the uberprospects to come up in the last year or so. When looking at a prospect it is extremely important to look at this data because the lack of a big league track record can fool you either way. Machado is off to a great start this year, so you want to make sure it isn’t a BABIP mirage. His relatively small swing rate at balls outside the zone indicates that he should experience some level of success all season. The same can’t be said for all prospects.

Nolan Arenado– Colorado Rockies

Arenado is an example of a prospect that we need to be wary of. When nearly 40 percent of your swings are coming on balls, there is a serious problem. It is a problem that can improve and the fact that he is making contact more than 85 percent of the time in spite of that is a good sign. On the other hand, weak contact is still contact and there are very few hitters that consistently hit the ball hard when swinging at pitches outside the zone.

SwStr

SO/BB

SWB

Contact

Pedro Alvarez

18.0

3.72

37.9

64.4

Mark Reynolds

14.9

2.97

29.5

68.2

Chris Johnson

14.5

4.64

40.3

72.8

Brett Lawrie

11.8

3.98

33.1

75.0

Chase Headley

11.8

2.07

26.4

73.2

Will Middlebrooks

11.5

7.41

30.5

75.3

Todd Frazier

11.5

2.18

31.9

75.5

Juan Uribe

10.7

1.45

26.7

76.4

David Freese

10.4

2.09

29.3

77.2

Jayson Nix

9.8

3.31

31.1

78.9

Aramis Ramirez

9.2

1.69

31.3

79.9

Miguel Cabrera

9.1

1.07

34.5

82.0

Josh Donaldson

8.8

1.87

25.4

79.7

Mike Moustakas

8.5

2.15

32.9

82.4

Pablo Sandoval

8.3

2.14

49.3

85.7

Pedro Alvarez– Pittsburgh Pirates

Wow, when you consider the fact that he only makes contact 64.4 percent of the time, you have to be impressed with what he has done this season. He is on pace to hit almost 40 home runs. These charts have nothing to do with power production directly. We do tend to see power hitters make less contact in general, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

Obviously, someone that makes this little contact with be susceptible to long slumps. His walk rate is actually reasonable, but when you strikeout more than 30 percent of the time you are obviously going to have a poor strikeout to walk ratio. Alvarez owners will have to accept Adam Dunn like production until he figures out the difference between balls and strikes.

Chris Johnson– Atlanta Braves

Johnson is a textbook example of the difference between process and results. His process hasn’t changed in the five or six years he has been in the big leagues. He typically strikes out more than 25 percent of the time and walks less than five percent of the time. That will happen when more than 40 percent of your swings come on balls outside the zone.

Yet, he survives because he has an abnormally high line drive rate and that has served him well. He normally has a BABIP between .330 and .370 where most players hover around .300. That makes him a viable player for the Braves and a viable player for you when he is hot. The cruel mistress that is regression will always rear its ugly head though.

Will Middlebrooks– Boston Red Sox

You wanna talk about paying attention to your plate discipline numbers. Last season, Middlebrooks looked like the second coming of Mike Schmidt with the bat. Now, he looks like another Rob Deer that can play a little third base. The answer is somewhere in between based on his swing rate on balls. Unfortunately, he doesn’t draw enough walks to carry him when he is not hitting for awesome power. We can certainly hope his numbers will bounce back based on the fact that all of his process stats aren’t terrible. They just aren’t particularly good.

 

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