Last Month’s Contact Rate Surgers and Laggards

One thing we know about strikeout and contact rate is that the stats stabilize quickly. In other words, those stats tell us more about future work in those categories quicker than other stats. But players make changes all the time, and it’s not just the first month of the season that we care about.

So who’s changed the most in the last month? Let’s look at the biggest differences in contact rate over the last month, and it what might tell us about these relevant players.

First up, the guys making less contact. The first group of numbers is from the last month, and then you have their season-long swinging strike and strikeout percentages, and then the differences between their last month and their seasonal numbers.

Name PA HR ISO BABIP AVG SwStr% K% 14SwSTR% 14K% swSTRdiff kdiff
Adam Jones 107 6 0.220 0.246 0.230 18.8% 23.4% 13.6% 18.2% 5.2% 5.2%
Manny Machado 91 3 0.153 0.383 0.306 15.0% 25.3% 10.7% 19.2% 4.3% 6.1%
Michael Morse 81 1 0.081 0.396 0.270 17.2% 30.9% 13.4% 25.2% 3.8% 5.7%
Kolten Wong 91 3 0.170 0.339 0.273 10.1% 26.4% 6.8% 15.9% 3.3% 10.5%
Nick Swisher 88   0.059 0.317 0.224 14.2% 28.4% 10.9% 27.7% 3.3% 0.7%
Zack Cozart 81 1 0.095 0.207 0.176 10.3% 18.5% 7.0% 15.5% 3.3% 3.0%
Dayan Viciedo 92 5 0.182 0.213 0.205 15.2% 25.0% 12.1% 21.9% 3.1% 3.1%
Shin-Soo Choo 98 2 0.108 0.333 0.237 11.7% 32.7% 8.7% 24.4% 3.0% 8.3%
Luis Valbuena 81 5 0.236 0.191 0.194 11.9% 24.7% 8.9% 21.8% 3.0% 2.9%
Carl Crawford 82   0.026 0.279 0.224 10.7% 19.5% 7.7% 15.6% 3.0% 3.9%
Charlie Blackmon 98   0.033 0.261 0.200 9.7% 22.4% 6.9% 14.3% 2.8% 8.1%
Freddie Freeman 105 3 0.160 0.309 0.255 13.9% 21.9% 11.5% 19.5% 2.4% 2.4%
DJ LeMahieu 89   0.073 0.283 0.207 8.9% 24.7% 6.5% 17.0% 2.4% 7.7%
Anthony Rizzo 109 5 0.188 0.319 0.281 11.0% 21.1% 8.7% 18.8% 2.3% 2.3%
Victor Martinez 108 2 0.105 0.325 0.305 6.1% 11.1% 3.8% 7.8% 2.3% 3.3%

To me, the most worrisome names on this list are those that have high BABIPs masking their contact rate decline. Anyone who owns Adam Jones can see that he’s been suffering from his higher strikeout rate, but the Manny Machado owner was probably feeling pretty good before the injury. But, with the injury, there’s no selling on Machado anyway. Just like there’s just more bad news about Shin-Soo Choo here. Amazingly, his overall swing and contact numbers aren’t any worse than his career numbers, but this last month, seen in the context of his season and his injury woes, might make him droppable in ten teamers.

Otherwise, I worry most about the guys on the extremes. Not Victor Martinez, though. An 11% strikeout rate might be worse than the one he had for the season, but it’s still sexcellent. But Michael Morse and Nick Swisher? Yeah those are some old sluggers swinging too freely.

The biggest question mark here is Kolten Wong. The power surge has been great. His overall numbers for the season are all better than the numbers that were projected for him in our two projection systems. He’s been jacking dongers left and right. And yet he’s also been swinging and missing a lot more recently. For me, though, I’ll take it. If the power continues to come with the aggression, it’s not like I had him down for much better than .260 or .270 in the batting average department anyway. Now he looks like a .260/15/30 guy, and if he can put together a full season of this power with a nice contact rate, he could really surge next year.

Now the guys going the other way. These players have improved their swinging strike rate the most over the last month.

Name PA HR ISO BABIP AVG SwStr% K% 14SwSTR% 14K% swSTRdiff kdiff
Ian Desmond 102 3 0.140 0.313 0.247 10.6% 26.5% 14.1% 28.4% -3.5% -1.9%
Jayson Werth 91 1 0.135 0.356 0.297 3.5% 17.6% 6.5% 18.2% -3.0% -0.6%
James Loney 94   0.035 0.346 0.326 2.1% 6.4% 4.9% 11.5% -2.8% -5.1%
Russell Martin 80 1 0.077 0.352 0.308 5.8% 13.8% 8.2% 18.5% -2.4% -4.7%
Pablo Sandoval 103 3 0.144 0.353 0.340 6.7% 8.7% 9.0% 13.8% -2.3% -5.1%
Ben Zobrist 101 3 0.200 0.365 0.353 2.6% 8.9% 4.8% 12.5% -2.2% -3.6%
Jon Singleton 88 4 0.203 0.261 0.203 12.1% 33.0% 14.3% 35.4% -2.2% -2.4%
Ryan Howard 94 3 0.133 0.241 0.205 12.6% 23.4% 14.8% 28.1% -2.2% -4.7%
Xander Bogaerts 86 2 0.139 0.230 0.203 7.9% 22.1% 9.9% 24.1% -2.0% -2.0%
Gregory Polanco 102 3 0.161 0.275 0.269 6.7% 11.8% 8.7% 16.0% -2.0% -4.2%
Curtis Granderson 101 1 0.089 0.279 0.222 8.2% 20.8% 10.2% 22.2% -2.0% -1.4%
Jason Castro 86 3 0.134 0.291 0.232 10.9% 27.9% 12.8% 28.9% -1.9% -1.0%
Adam Eaton 85   0.079 0.500 0.434 2.6% 11.8% 4.5% 15.9% -1.9% -4.1%
Desmond Jennings 91 2 0.120 0.258 0.229 5.6% 16.5% 7.5% 20.1% -1.9% -3.6%
Yoenis Cespedes 87 4 0.238 0.290 0.286 7.4% 13.8% 9.2% 18.2% -1.8% -4.4%

The great news for Ian Desmond is merely that he now looks like the Ian Desmond of old again. It’s not like he’s great shakes in the strikeout or swinging strikeout categories, even with his improvement over the last month, but at least he’s no long atrocious. There’s hope for him to hit better than .260 next season.

In the case of his teammate Jayson Werth, the added contact and batting average are making up for some lost power. James Loney could actually be well served from going the other way, but at least he’s become even more James Loney esque. Pablo Sandoval‘s resurgence has really been remarkable, and though he’s swung more and been more aggressive since I said he should do those things, he’s made more contact. Some people should just grip it and rip it.

In general, being on this list is good news. Especially for young guys like Xander Bogaerts and Gregory Polanco, who are now looking a little bit more like they can reach the better end of their contact rate projections. It’s also nice to know part of what has been fueling Ben Zobrist‘s resurgence.

But for all the noise about Jon Singleton‘s new contact rate after his change in batting stance, the improvement has not brought him to a great place in terms of swings and misses. And Curtis Granderson is making more contact, but the power has disappeared.

But Yoenis Cespedes? Now making more contact in a better park for his power? He seems primed for a good final six weeks of the season.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


3 Responses to “Last Month’s Contact Rate Surgers and Laggards”

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  1. chri521 says:

    I know he’s not on either list here, but what the hell happened to Martin Prado?

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  2. Mike Wimmer says:

    Is Jennings someone to target as a rebound from his disappointing season thus far? I recently lost CarGo and am unsure if I should just cut ties with him or hope he comes back in September and starts to actually play like CarGo. Is that too optimistic and should I look to move on with someone like Jennings?

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  3. Haha Clinton Dicks says:

    Sexcellent? Jacking dongers? What a risqué article.

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