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  1. My favorite baseball article in months, I absolutely love the swing contour graph, and showing how valuable a player without any other real skills can be. Any chance of having a swing contour for other players as a regular part of fangraphs?

    Comment by Dan — July 16, 2009 @ 12:16 pm

  2. Agree’d, awesome article.

    Comment by B — July 16, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  3. Great stuff, but as a Mets fan I’d point out that Castillo hits in the 1-2 spot more than he does in the 8 spot. It makes no sense for pitcher no to throw strikes to him.

    But, I’ll give him credit with 2 strikes. The reason his contour expands to close to league average is obvious, but he also is able to foul off a ton of those pitches, waiting for the next ball to come.

    Comment by Pat Andriola — July 16, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

  4. I love the swing contour graph too. In fact it’s something I thought about when pitch f/x debuted but never got a chance to look that much into.

    I think swing contours for all batters would be amazingly cool to have on the site. I also think it would be really cool to see them broken down by pitch count, type of pitch, count, etc.

    The same thing for different pitchers but based on how all hitters react to their pitches would be awesome as well.

    Comment by Craig — July 16, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  5. No wonder Jerry Manuel doesn’t like him. All those team killing walks.

    Comment by Joe R — July 16, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  6. Great piece. Castillo also leads the league in fake bunt attempts. At least once per game he squares to bunt and pulls the bat away.

    Comment by NBH — July 16, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  7. Clarification – he does this without any intention to actually bunt or swing the bat. He just squares, then pulls the bat back and takes the pitch…even if it is right down the middle.

    Comment by NBH — July 16, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  8. Huh? Does he usually do that to lead off an at-bat or at other times in the at-bat?

    Comment by Dave Allen — July 16, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  9. Dave, he does it at all times. He just does it to mess with the pitcher’s head. Anything to get him to throw it wildly. Strictly anecdotally, I’d say it’s semi-effective.

    Comment by Pat Andriola — July 16, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  10. Amazing article, I plan on showing this to a bunch of my friends who don’t understand the value of a walk and on base percentage. They just happen to be Mets fans as well.

    @Joe R
    Your comment was funny, sad, and true all at the same time. Well Done.

    Comment by Brian Recca — July 16, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  11. “Based on this there is no one excuse for pitchers not pounding it in the zone 55% of the time like they do against David Eckstein, Willy Taveras and Jason Kendall.”

    I’ve been saying this for a while. The only explanation I’ve come up with is the following: Luis Castillo is a jedi and uses the force to push pitches out of the zone.

    Comment by Max — July 16, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  12. Great work here Dave. I love these contour zones and only wish I could make one myself. I’ve been really interested in the plate discipline data offered here at FanGraphs for analysis of a player’s plate approach, and I’ve done some rudimentary plate approach analysis with some players of interest. Good stuff, keep it up.

    Comment by Michael — July 16, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  13. On a serious note. Is it possible to do a quick study to check if Luis’ reputation as a patient hitter gets umpires to call borderline pitches in his favor more often than the average hitter?

    Comment by Max — July 16, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  14. I am interested in Max’s question as well. Could you do the same type of analysis you did in your Baseball Analysts post ‘Does the Umpire Know the Count?’ (, except only do it for Luis’s at bats.

    Great post Dave!

    Comment by snowball2 — July 16, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

  15. Guys who swing and miss a lot can’t afford to take a strike, they are precious commodities not to be wasted. Castillo, on the other hand, can take two strikes (and however many balls) without worrying about striking out, because of his excellent contact skills.

    Comment by Brian Cartwright — July 16, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

  16. Hey Dave,

    Is there Hit F/X data for minor league games? If so, I’d like to know why, or at least get a sense for why, Chris Davis isn’t striking out as much in Triple-A. Obviously, it’s partially (if not mostly) a function of the competition, but I suspect there’s also been a slight change in approach/selectivity on Davis’ part.


    Comment by iyh — July 17, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  17. Brian, that is a very good way of thinking about it. I wish I had phrased it that way in the article.

    Do you know if it is generally true that there is an inverse relationship between swing rate and contact rate?

    Comment by Dave Allen — July 17, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  18. Just to be clear this analysis is based on the pitchf/x data, which gives, among other things the location of the pitch in the zone. The hitf/x data gives information about the ball after it is hit.

    They do not have the pitchf/x system, or hitf/x for that matter, set up in minor league parks. At the pitchf/x summit I thought I heard that some teams have or are planning on installing the system in their minor league parks. If those teams have done so already the data are not publicly available.

    Comment by Dave Allen — July 17, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  19. What about Castillo as a right-hander? Is it any different? He has 25 career HR as a RH and only 2 as a LH. .427 SLG RH vs .328 LH and .005 lower OBP RH with a .009 higher AVG. Is there a change in his approach?

    Comment by Joe — July 17, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

  20. As a Mets fan, I appreciate the 2009 version of Castillo, even if he did drop a routine pop-up. And I wish Manuel would bat him 2nd more often.

    Comment by D — July 17, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

  21. Joe, great question. He has about twice as many PAs as a lefty and sees more pitches as a lefty so even more than twice as many pitches seen as a lefty than a righty. That made it harder to make as finely resolved swing contours after breaking the data up also by number of strikes. I should probably have done generally though a swing contour as lefty vs as righty not broken up by number of strikes. It does look like he walks much less as a righty (walk rate is halved). He does swing more as a righty 33% of the time versus 30% of the time as a lefty.

    Comment by Dave Allen — July 17, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

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