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).
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.
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.
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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