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:
I. Rodriguez 23.8
Ad. Jones 26.9
Ad. Gonzalez 29.2
Ad. LaRoche 32.8
C. Duncan 33.1
B. Upton 37.5
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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