Earlier this week, I discussed the Three True Outcomes leaders for 2007-2009. Briefly, the “Three True Outcomes” are the walk, the strikeout, and the home run, since they reflect the batter-pitcher relationship without the interference of defense, batted ball luck, and the like. While Three True Outcomes masters like Jack Cust, Adam Dunn, and Carlos Pena are rightly revered, and all the players on that list are or have been good hitters, the players on the other end of the list — those who, over the last three seasons, have the fewest percentage of true outcomes — are a more diverse group. Some baseball fans (and executives) might even prefer this kind of hitter, as they “put more pressure on the defense” by putting the ball in play more often.
Without further ado, here are the give leading “pressurizers” of 2007-2009, ranked from the one with the highest amount of true outcomes to the lowest.
5. Ichiro Suzuki
No big surprise here. Ichiro’s gotta get old eventually, but he keeps hovering around 5 WAR. Ichiro’s ridiculous BABIP skills make him one of those guys that give projection systems all sorts of problems. Royals fans are hoping Rick Ankiel magically turns out to be like that, too. He’s super-duper fast like Ichiro, right?
4. Miguel Tejada
Now here’s a guy who aged quickly (thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week). Tejada was signed as a free agent by Baltimore and had an outstanding first season there in 2004 both at the plate (+30) and in the field (+8 defense at shortstop). He was never as good as that again, and was predictably offloaded to the Astros after the 2007 season. He’s still got value, and his price will probably be right for a team that needs to fill a gap at third base.
3. Placido Polanco
Polanco, one of the more underrated players in baseball during his prime, shows that the three true outcomes aren’t everything. Case in point: Player A has 21.0 WAR during the “FanGraphs Era.” Player B has 28.1. Player B is Placido Polanco. Who is Player A?
2. Yuniesky Betancourt
There isn’t much to say here other than to update what I wrote about this time last year: If anyone knows why it’s important to put pressure on the defense, it’s a shortstop who put up a -21 season in the field in 2009.
1. Juan Pierre
Pierre was a really good player back in 2003 and 2004 with the Marlins, and his 2006 in Chicago was good as well. Nyjer Morgan and Brett Gardner might be decent contemporary comparisons. Now, like Scott Podsednik, he’s sort of an anti-Ichiro. His (past) speed and baserunning can convince a GM that he’s an ideal candidate to be a “center fielder put in the corner who will make up for his bat with his defense.” Unfortunately, his range isn’t what it used to be, his arm can’t make up for it, and his speed is no longer adequate to sneak on base on dink hits, which means his flagging baserunnig skills also aren’t as useful as they used to be. I guess he’s in the AL Central now, so that means more games against middle infielders like, um, Yuniesky Betancourt.
In honor of these players, I leave you with last year’s Beyond the Box Score Graphs Contest Winner, which seems fitting.