David Wright’s Power Outage Part 2

Earlier in the day, RJ took a look at David Wright‘s drop in power. Although a number of Mets lost power in 2009 (most likely as a result of the move to Citi Field), Wright saw the biggest decline. In addition, Wright showed little difference between his home and away ISO, suggesting that the drop was not entirely the result of playing at Citi.

Wright’s drop in power intrigued me as well. In addition to this power drop, another striking trend was that his strikeout rate, which had averaged 19% previous to 2009, jumped to 26%. The fact that he still took a healthy number of walks and hit for his absurd .400 BABIP kept his overall performance with the bat quite good (.368), though down for his career average of .391. Here I am going to look at that increase in strikeouts and drop in power on a per-pitch basis with the pitchf/x data.

His increase in strikeouts was driven completely by his performance against RHPs. Below is his strike out rate by pitcher handedness (green is average, red RHP and blue LHP).
3787_3B_season__lr_mini_4_20091006
I am sure there are many interesting things to examine here. As a first step, I found that his contact rate against RHPs dropped from 82% in 2008 and 2007 (when I have the per-pitch data from pitchf/x) to 79% in 2009. This is one of those seemingly small changes, which magnified over the entire season, has a large effect. Just as I looked at the contact rate by location for Scutaro last week, I do that for Wright here, breaking it up by year.
contact_1117
Previously, Wright had a large sweet spot mid-height and middle-in, where he made contact over 95% of the time. This region has shrunk drastically and moved further down and in. Previously, he made contact with pitches over 87% of the time throughout maybe half of the zone, down and away. Again this zone shifted even further down and away and got smaller. Overall, it seems like he is making poorer contact on pitches in the middle of and away half of the zone, as well as pitches higher in the zone.

His power was down against both RHPs and LHPs. Again here there are many ways one could look at this, but one of the more striking patterns I found was how his ISO varied with horizontal pitch location.
iso_bia_1117
Wright’s power peaks middle-in, like most hitters. In 2009, it was down throughout the strike zone, but particularly on pitches in the middle and outside of the plate. Put together, in 2009 Wright lost the most power and contact on pitches from middle-in to the outside edge of the plate.

As RJ noted, most likely Wright will rebound next year. The question is how much of this was drop in true talent and how much just flukey bad luck.




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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.

21 Responses to “David Wright’s Power Outage Part 2”

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  1. Max says:

    Is that first chart from the righty batter’s point of view. You say he had a sweet spot middle-in then you say it moved down and away but if it’s from the batter’s point of view, then it actually moved down and in, right?

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  2. Jason B says:

    In the first chart–

    I’m guessing blue line is K rate against LHP, red line is K rate against RHP, and green line is all P? The graph was legend-less, cap’n.

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  3. Rory says:

    where the heck is Citi Park?

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  4. Max says:

    Could this reflect a change in approach by Wright? This is complete speculation but could that contact zone shifting down and in possibly represent a conscious attempt to pull the ball more often, to Wright’s detriment?

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    • LGNYM says:

      That seems like it would be a plausible explanation just looking that these stats, but then looking at the hit location stats Wright actually pulled the ball less this yr than he did last season. (though last season he did pull a bit more than he did in the previous seasons). And Wright and the coaching staff said throughout the season he was trying to hit the ball the other way more.

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    • MPC says:

      I can’t remember where, but I’m pretty sure Wright was quoted as saying that he was working with Howard Johnson on changing his approach to try to hit more line drives because of the new dimensions.

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  5. jimbo says:

    I wonder if he was trying to do to much (new stadium, dwindling support).

    Comparing his situational stats from 07/08 vs 09, his BB/K with runners on base fell from .95 to .42 (.99 to .38 with RISP); without runners on base it dropped from .73 to .57. Still a significant decline with nobody on base, but much less severe than with runners on.

    I just have a very difficult time thinking his abilities fell off the map after so much consistent production. Despite the “age 27″ thing, does it matter how much time a player has before hitting their prime age? Meaning, if someone breaks in at age 20 vs 25, does the 20 year old get worn down faster with the added demands of so many full seasons?

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  6. Wrighteous says:

    Obviously he’s off the juice.

    /head explodes

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  7. FireJerryManuelToo says:

    This is all assuming Dub was healthy in the first place. The (inept) manager made several allusions throughout the year to suggest he wasn’t.

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    • jimbo says:

      Maybe a wrist or something? Can’t imagine what sort of injury would ruin his power stroke but still allow him to steal so many bases. I did see some comments about how he was flinching after the concussion. Happened too late to explain the low homer total though.

      So perplexing.

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    • LGNYM says:

      Yeah I do remember Jerry mentioning that on a few occasions around the time Wright went on the DL with the concussion. I think he said Wright had been playing through knee and groin injuries for awhile. Something like that could conceivably have an effect on performance, but you would think that if it was effecting him THAT much to the point where he was striking out like crazy and lost almost all his power, we would have heard more about it and/or the Mets would have shut him down at somepoint since the season was going nowhere.

      So I don’t know if that is the answer either. What a weird season.

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      • jimbo says:

        So knee and groin issues that affected his swing, but not his ability to steal bases. Dunno, but that sounds like a contradiction to me. I’m buying the angle that the new park robbed him of some HR, and he overcompensated leading to the overall outage.

        Living in San Diego for a while, I remember how much Ryan Klesko despised the new park in 2004. And that was coming from Qualcomm–not exactly a bandbox. Here are his stats preceding Petco, year opened (04), and year after. Broke it down by home/road, with slash of HR/At bats/SLG%.

        2003 home: 8/186/.409; road: 13/211/.498
        2004 home: 3/212/.420; road: 6/190/.479
        2005 home: 10/208/.438; road: 8/235/.400

        Okay, so not an ideal comp to Wright in skill/age, but pretty interesting that in 2004 his home HR decline also came with a 50% drop in road HR.

        Even being a year deeper into his 30′s, he did apparently adjust in 2005…to the point he actually slugged better at home.

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  8. willmose says:

    Dave can you break it down pre- and post-concusion? I think that might tell the whole story.

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  9. NEPP says:

    I’ve thought about it, massaged the numbers, looked at countless hours of footage in an attempt to find the true answer as to Wright’s disturbing dropoff. After all that, I think I have a good educated guess as to the issue:

    Answer: It was a complete and utter fluke year for him where a lot of things went wrong. He’s a superstar player, one of the top 30 positional players in the game and he’ll be a perennial AS 3B for years to come. Sometimes guys have off years and its nothing more than that. Its not as if he fell off the face of the earth, he still posted a 120 OPS+ season at Age 26. He’s just now about to enter his prime and he’s already on a HOF trajectory. I won’t be surprised at all if he has an OPS+ above 150 in 2010.

    As a Phillies fan, I grimace at the thought of my team facing him for the next decade.

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  10. NEPP says:

    Its not Citi Field. Its not as if Shea was this amazing hitters park:

    Park Factor for Citi and Shea (last 5 years)

    2009 – 98
    2008 – 99
    2007 – 98
    2006 – 98
    2005 – 98

    Shea wasn’t a HR hitters park any more than Citi is. The main reason the Mets didn’t hit many HRs was that they were throwing a AAA lineup out there for more than half the season due to injuries. Besides which, they weren’t a HR hitting team even as constructed on Opening Day.

    Wright having an off year with the rest of that crap going on is hardly unexpected.

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