Chris “K” Young

I talked briefly about Chris Young last night, but I wanted to cover him in more depth this morning. He’s an odd case. His peripheral numbers are essentially equal to B.J. Upton – 11% walks, 29% strikeouts – because of the difference in BABIP, the two have around 25 points separating their wOBA. Young’s strikeout rate is odd though, like Upton, he makes contact 75% of the time. He’s no Chris Davis or Miguel Olivo. The company Young holds is decent; Evan Longoria, Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Jacobs, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Adam LaRoche amongst others.

I took every batter within the 74-76% contact range, weighed their strikeout rate by plate appearances, and arrived at a figure of ~25%. As Matthew has noted elsewhere, the R^2 for strikeouts and contact% is 0.77 – pretty sturdy – which implies the other part of strikeout percentage is made up of called strikes. Is Young a sufferer of the called strikeouts? I decided use Z-Swing% and altered it for my usage so that it’s “Z-Take%”. Essentially (1-Z-Swing%) – hardcore, right? – and here is how those numbers break down:

Player Z-Take%
Kouzmanoff 22.8
I. Rodriguez 23.8
Ortiz 26.4
Ad. Jones 26.9
Soriano 28.6
Ad. Gonzalez 29.2
Ad. LaRoche 32.8
Kemp 32.9
C. Duncan 33.1
Jacobs 33.2
Longoria 33.8
Ibanez 36.3
B. Upton 37.5
Cameron 38.4
B. Anderson 39
C. Young 40.3

Young takes the most pitches in the zone, nearly 40%, while Cameron and Upton aren’t far behind. Those three – along with Mike Jacobs – make up the high water mark of the strikeouts. Jacobs is the leader of the pack and far less disciplined than the other three, which is why he strikes out 31% of the time. So, if Young is taking that many strikes, the questions that arise are: A) Why? B) Are they good strikes? I’m no Dave Allen or Harry Pavlidis, but I did have a look at Young’s zone this season in Excel.


Quite a number of strikes are being called on the outside portion of the plate. So far outside, that Young is actually being called for strikes that aren’t really strikes at all. Notice the yellow lines are placed where the width of the zone ends, or is at least is supposed to. The pitches Young is getting called against him must be framed well. That’s something I would chock up as bad luck – in the same vein as receiving a favorable ball call or three dozen – more so than something Young could change.

So what’s the difference between Young and the guys striking out less? Probably nothing more than some umpire-based luck.

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14 Responses to “Chris “K” Young”

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  1. Bill says:

    I’d be curious to see what the called strike chart looks like for Cameron & Upton. Umpires always seem to give a little bit off the corners…

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  2. aaron says:

    I agree with Bill. Without seeing something like a league average called strike chart it’s hard to tell whether Young’s called strikes are typical or not.

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    • Mojowo11 says:

      Yeah, this was exactly my first thought. It wouldn’t really surprise me if all major league hitters are getting this slightly-too-wide strike zone called against them.

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  3. Mike Clay says:

    Nice analysis. I’ve been holding onto him all year in several leagues waiting for him to turn it around.

    In other news, I’d like to suggest a ‘What’s wrong with Rich Harden article?’ He’s been insanely inconsistent…and now the manager is blaming sunlight and home games? WTF? I’m sure you guys can give us some real reasons for his struggles.

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  4. Nate says:

    Ouch a strike a foot out side and one a foot low.

    He’s a fan of the long out too. He’s got the 2nd highest FB% in the league, 55.1%, and a HR/FB% of only 5.8%.

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    • Davidceisen says:

      He’s more of a fan of short outs. He has a 25% IFFB rate, which is likely causing his HR/FB rate to deflate.

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      • R M says:

        That number is inflated due to his rediculous % in the 40’s early on. I bet if you looked at what he’s been doing the past couple months it would be a lot lower than that.

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  5. Jamie says:

    cool article~

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  6. Vinnie says:

    Does Young stand closer to the plate than the average hitter? I haven’t seen a ton of Young, so I can’t answer this question from recollection, but maybe someone else here can. If that is the case, it could explain why outside pitches have been called on him so consistently.

    My perception has always been that umps routinely alter their strike zone in reaction to the hitter’s position in the box. Of course, my perception could be skewed by that expectation. Have you guys ever done a post regarding the effect of batter’s box position on called strikes?

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  7. Paul says:

    Just a quick question about interpretation – the sentence “the R^2 for strikeouts and contact% is 0.77″ would be interpreted as “77% of the variability in strikeouts is attributable to contact %”, is this correct?

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    • Fresh Hops says:

      Are we sure it’s not R^2 for *hitters* with K% is .77? That seems totally huge and I’ve never seen anything so strong. I think that number is swing percentage to strikeout rate for pitchers, and I think it should be R not R^2.

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  8. Joe R says:

    Yes, it is.

    Essentially says that a batter’s contact % explains 77% of their strikeout rate. Pretty big given all that can factor into strikeout totals.

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    • Joe R says:

      Another example for you:
      Last season, team OBP (x) vs. runs/game (y), this equation had an r^2 of around .7, or 70%. That means that about 70% of team runs in 2008 were correlated with how well a team got on base. Obviously the other 30% came from factors like how well they hit for power, how well they ran the bases when they did get on, whether they were a “clutch” team, or a team that tended to get their hits/walks in bunches, and of course, random luck.

      Sorry, math nerd moment.

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  9. D-Rock says:

    I actually think it would be interesting to see the called strike chart of the player that has the best percentage. Does the best player incur this fluctuation or does this kind of strike zone apply to just Chris Young or guys with reps as whiffers?

    An interesting article nonetheless.

    That one strike looks like it almost hit him. One worth getting tossed over.

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