- Dumb Luck Wins
- Tough Luck Losses
- Out Prevention Percentage
- Infield Outs Prevented
In which I discover who has been swinging-and-missing most often this season on pitches in the strike zone and out of the strike zone.
Using FanGraphs’ excellent Plate Discipline stats
Whiff% = Swing% * (1 – Contact%)
So for example, the Braves’ Alex Gonzalez swings 55.2% of the time and makes contact 80.4% of the time, so his Whiff% is .552 * (1 – .804) = .108, or 10.8%. The league average is about 8.5%.
You can also figure out how often a player whiffs on pitches inside the zone (i.e., strikes) and pitches outside the zone (i.e., balls) by using the “Z” and “O” stats. For balls in the zone, just use Z-Swing% and Z-Contact% instead of Swing% and Contact%. Similarly, for balls out of the zone, use O-Swing% and O-Contact%.
So who whiffs the most frequently in MLB? Here are the top 10:
- Miguel Olivo, 17.1% whiff rate
- Mark Reynolds, 15.6%
- Alfonso Soriano, 15.1%
- Ryan Raburn, 14.8%
- Mike Stanton, 14.6%
- Mark Trumbo, 14.0%
- Chris Johnson, 13.6%
- Kelly Johnson, 13.5%
- Carlos Peña, 13.5%
- Ryan Howard, 13.1%
No big surprises here, except perhaps for Kelly Johnson, whose career whiff rate is only 9%. Both Johnsons on this list have really struggled this season; Chris Johnson has the excuse of a wrist injury that sidelined him for a while and may have been bothering him when he did play.
Mike Stanton’s name on this list should give pause to all those who appreciate his prodigious talents. While nobody doubts his power, if he continues swinging and missing 15% of the time, he will be hard-pressed to fulfill his potential as an all-around player.
Now let’s look at the players who have the highest whiff rates on pitches in the zone. The league average is around 7.5%.
- Reynolds, 19.0%
- Peña, 16.8%
- Dexter Fowler, 15.5%
- Kelly Johnson, 15.3%
- Olivo, 15.2%
- Jack Cust, 14.7%
- Carlos Quentin, 14.2%
- Matt Kemp, 14.0%
- John Buck, 13.8%
- Raburn, 13.8%
These numbers should be very worrisome for fans of these players, especially Reynolds. To swing-and-miss that often on pitches that are in the zone–and thus should be very hittable–cannot be a good sign. Specifically, it implies that there is something mechanically wrong with these players’ swings that is causing them to whiff on hittable pitches.
It is very interesting to see Carlos Quentin and Matt Kemp on this list; both are having excellent years with the bat. Just imagine how good their numbers would be if they made contact more often on these pitches in the strike zone.
Finally, let’s look at which batters have whiffed the most often on pitches outside of the zone. The league average is about 9.0%.
- Soriano, 20.7%
- Olivo, 18.4%
- Trumbo, 17.6%
- Stanton, 17.2%
- Chris Johnson, 16.5%
- Raburn, 15.7%
- Adam Jones, 15.4%
- Peter Bourjos, 15.0%
- Carlos Gonzalez, 15.0%
- Marlon Byrd, 14.8%
- Justin Upton, 14.8%
These numbers are also worrisome, but for a different reason than the high whiff rates on pitches in the zone. If a pitch is in the zone, a player really should be swinging at it, so you can’t really fault the decision, only the execution. If the pitch is outside the zone, then, the fault lies not with the ability to contact the pitch–it is hard to contact pitches outside the zone in many cases–but with the decision to swing at the pitch in the first place. These players would be well advised to stop swinging so much.
I would suggest that this propensity for swinging at too many balls out of the zone is what is holding back Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Upton from being great hitters instead of just very good hitters. (No, I don’t think Carlos Gonzalez is a great hitter. Sorry, Rockies fans.)
Hopefully, I’ll do a post on the least whiffy batters in the league in the next couple days, so stay tuned for that.
Tagged with: Adam Jones Alfonso Soriano Carlos Gonzalez Carlos Pena Carlos Quentin Chris Johnson Dexter Fowler John Buck Justin Upton Kelly Johnson Mark Reynolds Mark Trumbo Marlon Byrd Matt Kemp Miguel Olivo Mike Stanton Peter Bourjos Ryan Raburn strikeouts whiffs
This blog is devoted to the invention and use of unusual baseball statistics. These Junk Stats are designed to reveal the not-so-meaningful quirks that make baseball so fascinating.
JunkStats is written by Jacob Peterson, who also writes for the Braves blog Talking ChopBeyond the Boxscore
For more about the site or the author, read the About page
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