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Tom Servo
01-04-2007, 09:09 PM
Pretty good read from usatoday.com:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/nl/reds/2007-01-04-organizational-report_x.htm



Reds getting ready with a purpose
By Mel Antonen, USA TODAY

The Reds are planning to have fewer strikeouts and tighter defense in 2007, but the biggest key to their season probably will be the lessons they learned during their five-week slide from contention in 2006.

On Aug. 24, the Reds were tied with the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central before a 2-8 West Coast trip ignited their fall.

By Aug. 31, they were five games out.

They fell into third place Sept. 23 and finished there.

Reds manager Jerry Narron says last season's final month taught his players about how the regular season is a 162-game grind.

"We have a lot of guys that have never been in a situation where they were playing for anything the second half of the season," Narron says. "I think (we learned) as much as anything the mental part of it, what it takes to get up every night in those types of situations.

"We had a tough August schedule. That mental strain is what got us into trouble."

So when spring training camp opens in Sarasota, Fla., Narron wants his players to prepare differently.

"I think our guys understand that it's all about preparing to win, not just trying to get ready for the season," Narron says. "A lot of times guys try to get prepared just for the season, getting themselves ready, and don't get the team ready."

The new batting coach, Brook Jacoby, who had a career .270 average over 11 major league seasons, replaces Chris Chambliss and will try to shift the offense from relying on power to one that's more versatile and can generate runs in various ways.

"Brook Jacoby wants to stress with these guys about putting the ball in play better than we did a year ago and cutting down (on swings) with two strikes," Narron says.

The Reds led the NL with 820 runs scored in 2005 but dropped to ninth with 749 runs in 2006, a season in which their 217 home runs ranked second.

Their 1,192 strikeouts were the NL's fifth highest, and their .257 team batting average was next to last.

The Reds also became the first team to have the league leaders for strikeouts by a pitcher (Aaron Harang, 216) and a batter (Adam Dunn, 194).

The Reds don't expect Dunn's strikeouts to reduce drastically, but they think he would make a huge improvement if he could cut his total by 20 to 25.

Dunn is hardly the only Red trying to reduce his strikeouts.

Outfielder Ryan Freel struck out 98 times in 132 games, and infielder Brandon Phillips struck out 88 times in 149 games. Another infielder, Edwin Encarnacion, had 78 strikeouts in 117 games.

"Ryan Freel should definitely do better," Narron says. "I think Phillips and Encarnacion will improve with another year in the big leagues."

On defense, the Reds also see plenty of avenues for improvement. Phillips, the second baseman who had 16 errors last season, will be playing with a new shortstop, Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez played for the 2003 World Series champion Marlins and for the Red Sox last season.

"Last year was the first time Brandon has focused on one position," Narron says. "He's got a chance to be really good defensively. He's got range, a good arm, and he's got good hands. He plays with energy."

Narron says Gonzalez, 29, is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. Gonzalez should help a Reds defense that made 128 errors, the second-worst total in the majors last season.

Narron thinks Gonzalez, who made seven errors in 2006, will be a positive influence on Phillips and third baseman Encarnacion.

"We should have one of the better infields in baseball with the three young guys," Narron says.

The Reds also might try to boost their outfield defense by moving Ken Griffey Jr., 37, to right field, allowing Freel to play center.

Griffey, speaking to reporters last month at the winter meetings in Orlando, didn't rule out moving to a corner spot but says he's going into spring training as if he's the center fielder.

"That's the only way to prepare myself," he says. "We will see what happens."

Griffey has 563 career home runs. He has won 10 Gold Gloves for his center-field play but hasn't won one since coming from the Mariners to the Reds before the 2000 season.

He can make the spectacular plays, but his range isn't what it once was, mainly because of injuries.

Griffey hasn't played in 145 games during a season since 2000. Injuries, including a strained biceps and a dislocated toe, limited him to 109 games in 2006.

Narron says he wants Griffey to play the position that causes the least wear on his body. Griffey thinks there could be just as much physical stress playing right field as center, but about a move, he says, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Griffey's immediate concern is a broken left (throwing) hand, an injury the Reds say occurred in an accident at his Orlando home. The hand was placed in a hard cast and will be re-evaluated in mid-January.

If the Reds get more run production and better defense (a cause Griffey helps when he's healthy), their pitching should be even better. Last season the Cincinnati rotation had a 4.58 ERA, the sixth best in the NL.

The Reds went 52-27 in games when their starters pitched at least six innings and gave up three runs or fewer.

Arroyo had 23 of those quality starts, Harang 17 and Eric Milton 14.

"With Harang and Bronson at the top, you get 470 innings, you feel like you have a pretty good chance of winning every night with them," Narron says.

Harang and Arroyo made Narron's first full season of managing the Reds mostly enjoyable, with the exception of the collapse near the end.

"We pitched well enough," Narron says, "but we just didn't score."

---

Where the Reds stand at each position:

Catcher

There's excellent depth with David Ross, Javier Valentin and Chad Moeller.

First base

Scott Hatteberg ranked 10th in the NL in on-base percentage (.389) and was the league's sixth-toughest to strike out (once every 13.1 plate appearances) in 2006.

Second base

Brandon Phillips has range and an excellent arm and led NL second basemen with 25 steals.

Third base

In his first full season in the majors, Edwin Encarnacion led the Reds with 33 doubles, becoming the first third baseman to do that since Chris Sabo in 1993. Encarnacion also had a team-high 25 errors.

Shortstop

Alex Gonzalez, who has a career .970 fielding percentage, should improve the infield defense.

Left field

Adam Dunn is the Reds' leading home run hitter in each of the last five seasons, hitting 46, 40 and 40 the last three. He's the only player in franchise history to have more than one season with at least 100 runs, 100 RBI and 100 walks. (He did it in 2004-05.)

Center field

Ken Griffey Jr. is still one of the best in the game when healthy, but he has a broken left (throwing) wrist. It's unclear if the injury will cause Griffey to miss any of the 2007 season.

Right field

Ryan Freel stole a career-high 37 bases last season to lead the Reds in that category for a third consecutive season. He has the same all-out approach in the outfield, and the Reds have entertained the thought of moving him to center and Griffey to right.

Starters

The rotation is set with right-handers Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang and Kyle Lohse and left-hander Eric Milton in the top four slots. Arroyo's 3.29 ERA was fourth best in the NL last season, and Harang's 3.76 was 11th best. Lohse, who won 27 games for the Twins in 2002-03, is the sleeper. The Reds want Milton to change speeds better and more often.

Bullpen

Right-handers David Weathers, Todd Coffey and Gary Majewski and lefties Mike Stanton and Rheal Cormier are set. Other candidates: lefties Brian Shackelford and Bill Bray and righty Jared Burton, a 2006 Rule 5 draftee.

Closer

The Reds don't have a true closer, but they have veterans who have closed in spots in Stanton and Weathers. That gives them good experience and durability at the back of the bullpen.

---

A look at the Reds' top five prospects:

Homer Bailey, right-handed pitcher: Bailey, 20, the 2004 USA TODAY High School Player of the Year, was the Reds' top prospect going into 2006. He finished the season as one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues.

He combined to go 10-6 with a 2.47 ERA in 26 starts, 13 each at single-A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga. He was the winning pitcher in the Futures Game in Pittsburgh, and he had two games of 11 strikeouts.

After his promotion to the Lookouts, he didn't allow a run in his first 17 innings.

Bailey, from La Grange, Texas, was the Reds' first-round pick, seventh overall, in June 2004.

Bailey was 8-4 with a 4.43 ERA in 2005.

He throws mainly fastballs, and the Reds need him to work on his changeup and curveball so he's comfortable enough to throw them at any time in the count.

Bailey has one of the best fastballs in the minors and had 28 walks in 68 innings for the Lookouts.

The Reds aren't setting a timetable for Bailey to get to the big leagues.

They said they don't want to rush him, so he'll probably start next season at Triple-A Louisville.

"There is no timetable," Reds manager Jerry Narron says. "I'm looking forward to seeing him in the spring and see if he can pitch.

"If he shows he can make pitches, not just come out and throw a lot of fastballs to try and throw the ball by batters, he'll be in the big leagues and be pretty successful."

Chris Denorfia, outfielder: Denorfia, 26, was a Triple-A International League All-Star who hit .349 in 83 games at Louisville.

He is considered the best defensive outfielder in the Reds system and has excellent discipline at the plate. The Reds expect him to compete for a roster spot in the spring.

Joey Votto, first baseman: Votto, 23, a second-round draft pick in 2002, bats left-handed and won a Double-A Southern League batting title (.319) while finishing with 22 home runs, best in the system.

He also led the league in hits (162), on-base percentage (.408) and slugging percentage (.547).

The Reds like Votto's work ethic and say his perseverance is key.

He battled back from a subpar season at single-A Sarasota, where he hit .256 with 17 home runs in 2005.

Votto also had a strong showing in the Dominican Winter League.

Chris Valaika, shortstop: Valaika, 21, made a strong impression in his first pro season, averaging .324 with a .520 slugging percentage in 70 games for the short-season Billings Mustangs, who won both halves of the Pioneer League.

Valaika was the Pioneer League MVP.

He hit eight home runs and set a league record with a 32-game hitting streak, averaging .374 (49-for-131) during that span.

Jay Bruce, outfielder: Bruce, 19, who was selected in the first round, 12th overall in the June 2005 draft, put up impressive numbers for single-A Dayton in the Midwest League, hitting .291 with 16 home runs, 81 RBI and 19 stolen bases.

The Reds like his makeup and maturity and expect him to move fast in the organization.

He plays excellent defense, has a strong arm and hits with power to all fields.

RedsManRick
01-04-2007, 09:22 PM
If only we'd strike out less we'd score more runs.....

No Cueto or Wood in the top 5...

reds44
01-04-2007, 09:29 PM
Pretty good article. I enjoyed reading it. Just picking some things out:


"We have a lot of guys that have never been in a situation where they were playing for anything the second half of the season," Narron says. "I think (we learned) as much as anything the mental part of it, what it takes to get up every night in those types of situations.

Agreed with this. Dunn, Freel EE, Phillips, etc. will learn alot from contending last year.


[The new batting coach, Brook Jacoby, who had a career .270 average over 11 major league seasons, replaces Chris Chambliss and will try to shift the offense from relying on power to one that's more versatile and can generate runs in various ways.
/QUOTE]
This is a deangerous thing. Dunn, Griffey, and Edwin are NOT singles hitters. Why would you try to change this when especially Edwin and Dunn are just good at what they do. If you want to do this with Freel, Phillips, Hatteberg, Seabass, Conine then go ahead. Don't mess with Dunn, Griffey, and Edwin though.

[QUOTE]The Reds led the NL with 820 runs scored in 2005 but dropped to ninth with 749 runs in 2006, a season in which their 217 home runs ranked second.
That wasn't because of strikeouts. It was because you traded away Kearns and Lopez and Dunn had a down year.


The Reds don't expect Dunn's strikeouts to reduce drastically, but they think he would make a huge improvement if he could cut his total by 20 to 25.

Dunn is hardly the only Red trying to reduce his strikeouts
Don't make Dunn try to cut down his strikes out and put the ball in play. IMO, it was one of the reasons for his down year last year. Asking Dunn to shorten his swing is like askign a QB to change his throwing motion. It's too late to do it when they are in the pro's. Leave them alone and focus on the good.


Outfielder Ryan Freel struck out 98 times in 132 games
You can't do that when you are a player like Freel. Put the ball in play, use your speed.


On defense, the Reds also see plenty of avenues for improvement. Phillips, the second baseman who had 16 errors last season, will be playing with a new shortstop, Alex Gonzalez. Gonzalez played for the 2003 World Series champion Marlins and for the Red Sox last season.
Untuil you mov Griffey out of CF, I won't take Narron and Krivsky seriously about getting the D better.


The Reds also might try to boost their outfield defense by moving Ken Griffey Jr., 37, to right field, allowing Freel to play center.

Do it.

Superdude
01-04-2007, 09:29 PM
Why is the K always brought up as a way to improve the offense? A strikeout isn't a good thing, but how about we try stressing something different just for variety sake Jerry?!

Yachtzee
01-04-2007, 10:03 PM
Why is the K always brought up as a way to improve the offense? A strikeout isn't a good thing, but how about we try stressing something different just for variety sake Jerry?!

Yeah, the "power hitting" Reds never really had a problem scoring runs. It was giving them up that has been the problem.

edabbs44
01-04-2007, 10:17 PM
Ks are not bad.

People tell Dunn not to strike out...that's why he had a bad year last year.

Yada, yada, yada. Talk about beating a dead horse. News flash: I bet cutting down on strikeouts would help the team.

Dunn with RISP: 35% of his ABs in 2006, he whiffed. Put the ball in play with RISP and you have a better chance of scoring runs than when you K. Simple logic. As an added bonus, if he put the ball in play more with RISP, the talk about his RBI totals would end as well. Win-win situation.

BA is overrated.
OBP is God's gift.
Strikeouts don't matter.

Sounds like all of these "facts" center around the attributes of one player, doesn't it? Next we'll here how great it is to be a bad fielder.

For all the talk about how Dunn's BA is a tired topic, I think the reversal is getting a little old as well. No offense to anyone here.

Falls City Beer
01-04-2007, 10:22 PM
Ks are not bad.

People tell Dunn not to strike out...that's why he had a bad year last year.

Yada, yada, yada. Talk about beating a dead horse. News flash: I bet cutting down on strikeouts would help the team.

Dunn with RISP: 35% of his ABs in 2006, he whiffed. Put the ball in play with RISP and you have a better chance of scoring runs than when you K. Simple logic. As an added bonus, if he put the ball in play more with RISP, the talk about his RBI totals would end as well. Win-win situation.

BA is overrated.
OBP is God's gift.
Strikeouts don't matter.

Sounds like all of these "facts" center around the attributes of one player, doesn't it? Next we'll here how great it is to be a bad fielder.

For all the talk about how Dunn's BA is a tired topic, I think the reversal is getting a little old as well. No offense to anyone here.


Well, if every hitter were Barry Larkin, you might be on to something. Not every hitter can BB more than K. Different machines. Different approaches.

But they both do the trick.

Both sides of the argument are tired; neither cuts to the heart of what's ailing this team, however.

Highlifeman21
01-04-2007, 10:33 PM
If only we'd strike out less we'd score more runs.....

No Cueto or Wood in the top 5...


I firmly believe these two are without a shadow of a doubt our two most overrated prospects in our system.

If someone really loves them that much, find a new team for them and get some value out of them.

Bailey, Votto and Bruce seem to be the only 3 that will reasonably see substantial playing time eventually for an MLB club.

Bigredfan#1
01-04-2007, 11:51 PM
Dunn doesn't need to cut down on his swing, he needs to be more aggresive on early pitches. Far too ofter he take strike one, and then 2 and he is in a hole, then of course he is going to strike out more if he does this. Of course then we lose a lot of walks that he gets. If he can tweak it just a little, and was doing so either last spring or the spring before and really looked good, he could be a monster. I still believe he will be before it is over!! Although 40 HRs a year is not bad either!

Topcat
01-05-2007, 12:31 AM
I firmly believe these two are without a shadow of a doubt our two most overrated prospects in our system.

If someone really loves them that much, find a new team for them and get some value out of them.

Bailey, Votto and Bruce seem to be the only 3 that will reasonably see substantial playing time eventually for an MLB club.

Curiosity makes me ask why do you feel that way ?

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 12:34 AM
Outs are bad. Strikeouts are outs. Therefore, strikeouts are bad. Turning a strikeout in to a ground out doesn't make the outcome of the at bat any better. Turn that out, ANY kind of out, strikeout or others, in to a non-out, and now you're getting somewhere.

Let's teach Brandon Phillips how to turn weak grounders in to walks -- that will help us produce a whole heck of a lot more runs than teaching Dunn not to strike out will.

Jpup
01-05-2007, 02:38 AM
That article was horrible.

Superdude
01-05-2007, 03:30 AM
Turning a strikeout in to a ground out doesn't make the outcome of the at bat any better.

But sometimes those groundballs find holes. Putting the ball in play more does have a positive effect on batting average, which in turn improves OBP and SLG. They always say they're gonna make Dunn do this crap, but it never seems to work out. Maybe Jacoby can finally pull it off. Dunn's a good on-base guy when he's batting .230. Imagine if he could bat .280. It would be interesting to see if it actually hurts his power like everyone assumes it would.

I'll believe it when I see it though considering they've been threatening Dunn with this strikeout crap forever.

edabbs44
01-05-2007, 07:19 AM
Outs are bad. Strikeouts are outs. Therefore, strikeouts are bad. Turning a strikeout in to a ground out doesn't make the outcome of the at bat any better. Turn that out, ANY kind of out, strikeout or others, in to a non-out, and now you're getting somewhere.

Let's teach Brandon Phillips how to turn weak grounders in to walks -- that will help us produce a whole heck of a lot more runs than teaching Dunn not to strike out will.

With RISP, put the ball in play and runs can score. Hits, sac flies, even ground outs can score runs.

Ks typically do not get the runner(s) in.

Jpup
01-05-2007, 08:12 AM
With RISP, put the ball in play and runs can score. Hits, sac flies, even ground outs can score runs.

Ks typically do not get the runner(s) in.

I think that "productive outs" happen about 1% of the time. It's a fruitless effort.

Ltlabner
01-05-2007, 08:48 AM
Ken Griffey Jr. is still one of the best in the game when healthy, but he has a broken left (throwing) wrist. It's unclear if the injury will cause Griffey to miss any of the 2007 season.

On what planet? Guys here have posted endless defesive metrics that consistant rank Jr at the bottom of the pack, even when healthy. And if his offensive slide continues into 2007 his big stick woln't be worth much either.


There's excellent depth with David Ross, Javier Valentin and Chad Moeller.

I'd hardly call Chad Moeller "excellent" anything.


Ryan Freel stole a career-high 37 bases last season to lead the Reds in that category for a third consecutive season

Yes, and how many times was he picked off, made a bone headed base running mistake, etc.


The Reds don't expect Dunn's strikeouts to reduce drastically, but they think he would make a huge improvement if he could cut his total by 20 to 25.

Huge improvement? An improvement at what? Is this saying that Dunn is on th wrong side of an acceptable level of K's by only 20 or so K's? What is an acceptable level of Ks? I guess the home runs and RBI's he produced instantly dissapear from the stat sheet once you pass this mythical level of Ks?

Wow...what a deep and insightfull piece of baseball analysis.

But there were several bright spots. Assumining the article is correct/true, Narron seems to say that EE is the man at 3B so we woln't have that issue again in 2007. Also it paints the picture that moving Jr to RF isn't as distant a dream as it might appear. Hopefully the author is reporting that correctly.

edabbs44
01-05-2007, 09:51 AM
I think that "productive outs" happen about 1% of the time. It's a fruitless effort.

Putting the ball into play is infinitely more productive than whiffing. I don't think there is any metric which discounts that.

BRM
01-05-2007, 09:58 AM
Putting the ball into play is infinitely more productive than whiffing. I don't think there is any metric which discounts that.

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. A 6-4-3 double play is infinitely less productive than a K.

redsmetz
01-05-2007, 10:03 AM
On what planet? Guys here have posted endless defesive metrics that consistant rank Jr at the bottom of the pack, even when healthy. And if his offensive slide continues into 2007 his big stick woln't be worth much either.



I'd hardly call Chad Moeller "excellent" anything.



Yes, and how many times was he picked off, made a bone headed base running mistake, etc.



Huge improvement? An improvement at what? Is this saying that Dunn is on th wrong side of an acceptable level of K's by only 20 or so K's? What is an acceptable level of Ks? I guess the home runs and RBI's he produced instantly dissapear from the stat sheet once you pass this mythical level of Ks?

Wow...what a deep and insightfull piece of baseball analysis.

But there were several bright spots. Assumining the article is correct/true, Narron seems to say that EE is the man at 3B so we woln't have that issue again in 2007. Also it paints the picture that moving Jr to RF isn't as distant a dream as it might appear. Hopefully the author is reporting that correctly.

LOL - at first I had to go back and make sure this was actually LTLAbner! But ironically, I too found much of the article much too sunny. I wondered if his editor had instructed him "Say no ill!". Even I wasn't buying that we have an excellent catching corps.

I disagree still with those who say cutting down on K's will have little effect. I'm not certain, but it seems logical that K's are the worst out there is. Extremely little can happen, it does nothing but make pitchers' salaries higher! Any ball put in play has significantly more potential than any strikeout. Now I don't have any statistics to back that up, so maybe statistically there's little difference, but it doesn't seem logical.

I'm guessing this was the writer

http://www.rightmoon.com/babyelton.jpg

edabbs44
01-05-2007, 10:05 AM
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. A 6-4-3 double play is infinitely less productive than a K.

Agreed 100%. But a DP is one of many outcomes of putting the ball in play. A K will get you about a zero percent productivity rate.

FutureRedsGM
01-05-2007, 10:36 AM
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. A 6-4-3 double play is infinitely less productive than a K.

This "argument" kills me. How in the world can anyone in their right mind argue that a strikeout is the same or worse than any other out? When you put the ball in play, anything can happen. Yes, a double pay is one of those outcomes, but a hit, sacrafice, fielders choice that advances the runner, or error are also outcomes. Strikeouts are B-A-D. Period!!! Adam Dunn is my favorite current Red and I'm not badmouthing him. I respect what he brings to this team. I just know that every component of this team would benefit from him cutting his K total.

Jpup
01-05-2007, 10:37 AM
This "argument" kills me. How in the world can anyone in their right mind argue that a strikeout is the same or worse than any other out? When you put the ball in play, anything can happen. Yes, a double pay is one of those outcomes, but a hit, sacrafice, fielders choice that advances the runner, or error are also outcomes. Strikeouts are B-A-D. Period!!! Adam Dunn is my favorite current Red and I'm not badmouthing him. I respect what he brings to this team. I just know that every component of this team would benefit from him cutting his K total.

1 % of the time.

FutureRedsGM
01-05-2007, 10:45 AM
1 % of the time.

Which is 100% better than 0% of the time.

BRM
01-05-2007, 10:48 AM
Hey, we'd all like to see Adam Dunn turn into Ted Williams but I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen. In the meantime, I'll simply enjoy watching the most productive Red we've had in years for as long as he's in town.

CySeymour
01-05-2007, 10:50 AM
How many of Dunn's strikeouts are looking? From what I have seen, it isn't the strikeouts that bother me...that comes with power hitters...the problem is it seems he gets into a good hitters count, then takes a pitch right down the middle, almost like he is looking for a walk.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 10:53 AM
How many of Dunn's strikeouts are looking? From what I have seen, it isn't the strikeouts that bother me...that comes with power hitters...the problem is it seems he gets into a good hitters count, then takes a pitch right down the middle, almost like he is looking for a walk.

No he doesn't. Your eyes are not seeing what they think they are seeing.

I've been told this so many times, I can't count.;) :beerme:

Kc61
01-05-2007, 10:56 AM
Somehow this thread wound up being a referendum on strikeouts. The far more alarming part of this article is the Reds' continued statement of confidence in the starting pitching.

They expect tons of innings from Harang and Arroyo -- debatable that could or should happen again. And haven't these people looked at Milton and Lohse's statistics for the last two seasons (Lohse's with the Twins)?
I just do not understand the comfort they have with this starting staff.

Always Red
01-05-2007, 11:06 AM
But ironically, I too found much of the article much too sunny. I wondered if his editor had instructed him "Say no ill!". Even I wasn't buying that we have an excellent catching corps.



That's the great thing about spring training, and the days leading up to it; the weather is always sunny and beautiful, and no one has lost a single game!

Throw the smell of fresh cut grass in there, and suddenly I'm 14 years old again. In that kind of world, in the far corners of my brain, the Redlegs are always winners. :D

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 11:30 AM
With RISP, put the ball in play and runs can score. Hits, sac flies, even ground outs can score runs.

Ks typically do not get the runner(s) in.

And K's with a runner on first don't often turn in to double plays. My point is that getting guys to K less in order to score more runs is akin to sweeping out your garage in order to remodel your house.

Yeah, it's useful. Not striking out is better than striking out. However, in the whole scheme of things, it's such a minor positive step compared to tons of other things you could be doing. Furthermore, most studies I've seen say that it's basically not possible to keep everything constant and simply turn K's in to Balls in play. It requires a fundamental change in approach that tends to lead towards less overall productivity.

I'm certainly not against striking out less. However, I am against any focus on striking out less when it has such a minute affect on real productivity compared to things like not getting on base at all. Could Dunn be more agressive? Sure. Let's talk about it in those terms then. Dunn needs to do a better job of driving the hittable pitches he does get. The strikeouts will happen, but they're the byproduct of something else and not the thing we should be trying to fix.

And if you want Dunn to get pitches he can hit, maybe the manager should bat him 3rd so he's not so easily pitched around....

Johnny Footstool
01-05-2007, 11:36 AM
But sometimes those groundballs find holes. Putting the ball in play more does have a positive effect on batting average, which in turn improves OBP and SLG. They always say they're gonna make Dunn do this crap, but it never seems to work out. Maybe Jacoby can finally pull it off. Dunn's a good on-base guy when he's batting .230. Imagine if he could bat .280. It would be interesting to see if it actually hurts his power like everyone assumes it would.

I'll believe it when I see it though considering they've been threatening Dunn with this strikeout crap forever.

Sometimes those groundballs find holes, true.

And sometimes Adam Dunn's massive, strikeout-generating swing produces extra-base hits.

I wouldn't advocate an approach that causes Dunn to shorten his swing and rob himself of his best asset: power.


This "argument" kills me. How in the world can anyone in their right mind argue that a strikeout is the same or worse than any other out? When you put the ball in play, anything can happen. Yes, a double pay is one of those outcomes, but a hit, sacrafice, fielders choice that advances the runner, or error are also outcomes. Strikeouts are B-A-D. Period!!! Adam Dunn is my favorite current Red and I'm not badmouthing him. I respect what he brings to this team. I just know that every component of this team would benefit from him cutting his K total.

You're dealing with the outcome, but not the system that created the outcome.

Strikeouts are the by-product of an attempt to produce *quality* contact -- waiting for a good pitch to hit, then hitting it with authority. Other by-products of this approach include doubles and home runs -- very good things.

As for the team benefitting from Dunn cutting his K total, that assumes he would turn those Ks into hits. That probably won't happen. Most likely, he would turn a lot of Ks AND BBs into ground outs (making more outs than before) and turn some doubles and homers into singles (acquiring fewer bases). Those kinds of things don't help the team.

curedsfan
01-05-2007, 11:52 AM
Outs are bad. Strikeouts are outs. Therefore, strikeouts are bad. Turning a strikeout in to a ground out doesn't make the outcome of the at bat any better. Turn that out, ANY kind of out, strikeout or others, in to a non-out, and now you're getting somewhere.

Let's teach Brandon Phillips how to turn weak grounders in to walks -- that will help us produce a whole heck of a lot more runs than teaching Dunn not to strike out will.

I agree completely that outs of all variety's are bad. However, putting the bat on the ball has many more potential positive outcomes than striking out does. If the Cardinals had replaced all of their weakly hit gound balls with strike outs in last years World Series, they probably would not have won. The Tigers made a ton of errors in that series and it cost them. Those errors have no chance of happening with a K.

Ltlabner
01-05-2007, 11:52 AM
LOL - at first I had to go back and make sure this was actually LTLAbner! But ironically, I too found much of the article much too sunny. I wondered if his editor had instructed him "Say no ill!". Even I wasn't buying that we have an excellent catching corps.

I knew there was something wrong with the article when I found it "too sunny". Hahahahaha

While Krivsky's offseason this far has not impressed me, I don't subscribe to the doom & gloom perspective (as some say, "no kidding"). That said, this article offered no real analysis and certinally put a rosie outlook on what is a questionable future!

Johnny Footstool
01-05-2007, 12:03 PM
I agree completely that outs of all variety's are bad. However, putting the bat on the ball has many more potential positive outcomes than striking out does. If the Cardinals had replaced all of their weakly hit gound balls with strike outs in last years World Series, they probably would not have won. The Tigers made a ton of errors in that series and it cost them. Those errors have no chance of happening with a K.

Many more *varieties* of potential positive outcomes (error, fielder's choice, bug flies into the infielder's eyes as he's trying to throw, etc.). But most of those positive outcomes are extremely rare. You have a better chance of generating quality contact by waiting for your pitch and trying to hit it with authority. Strikeouts are just a side effect.

And you can't simply replace Ks with weakly hit ground balls. You're also replacing walks, singles, doubles, triples, and homers with weakly hit ground balls, because you're sacrificing patience and quality contact when you simply try to put the ball in play.

FutureRedsGM
01-05-2007, 12:07 PM
And K's with a runner on first don't often turn in to double plays. My point is that getting guys to K less in order to score more runs is akin to sweeping out your garage in order to remodel your house.




Adam Dunn lifetime stats:

Batting average when striking out = .000

Batting Average on balls in play (BABIP) = .291



Which would you rather have?

Jpup
01-05-2007, 12:10 PM
Adam Dunn lifetime stats:

Batting average when striking out = .000

Batting Average on balls in play (BABIP) = .291



Which would you rather have?

you are under the assumption that one can just put the ball in play at will. when you swing at bad pitches you are going to make more outs and be less productive, he would also lose a ton of power. The reason his average is high with ball in play is because he swings at pitches that he can handle.

Adam Dunn is who he is and the Reds are really screwing up if they try to change him. He'll likely say goodbye after '08.

FutureRedsGM
01-05-2007, 12:25 PM
you are under the assumption that one can just put the ball in play at will. when you swing at bad pitches you are going to make more outs and be less productive, he would also lose a ton of power. The reason his average is high with ball in play is because he swings at pitches that he can handle.

Adam Dunn is who he is and the Reds are really screwing up if they try to change him. He'll likely say goodbye after '08.

This argument could go on forever (and has in many other threads). We are both correct. I respect and appreciate where you are coming from. Like I said, AD is my favorite player and I love the 500 foot moon shots. I just wish, like most others, that those were accompanied by a few less K's.

I'm officially off my AD strike out rant and will no longer clog up this thread with my non-sense!!

Team Clark
01-05-2007, 12:32 PM
Some conversations are just not worth having. That is one thing I have learned in 10+ years of Marriage.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 12:39 PM
And K's with a runner on first don't often turn in to double plays.

When a lineup is as strikeout laden as the Reds has been, it sometimes does result in a DP when the man behind follows it up with the same result. The problem is when you have an entire lineup that strikes out a lot. I don't have a huge problem with a power hitter striking out a good bit. It is usually a by product of the approach and swing, but in the case of Adam Dunn, I think his strength alone is going to generate good things if he makes a little more contact. While he does draw a lot of walks, he takes a lot of very hittable pitches. I would like to see him be more aggressive on those balls in the strike zone. Nobody advocates his swinging at bad pitches, and he does his share of that when he is down in the count. The thing is, a 70 percent swing of Adam Dunn is just as good, and sometimes better, than the one from the heels. A good, hard, balanced swing, where the body is under control is much better than the "all out hack."

Team Clark and I were talking about this concept the other day. The ball jumps just as well on that 70% swing as it does on the 100% swing. More control. More balance, and while everyone loves to see those 500ft. "jacks," you don't have to hit it that far to get it out of the park. It is my experience that homeruns happen when you least expect it, when you put a good swing on the ball. More contact from Adam Dunn on pitches in the strikezone is not a bad thing.

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 12:43 PM
Some of you are missing the point. Yes, striking out is a bad thing. Generally speaking, putting the ball in play is better than striking out. We agree. Done.

If the change in approach simply means Dunn being a little bit more conscious of not falling behind in the count by watching hittable pitches in the zone, I'm all on board. But when we start seeing Dunn ground out to third on the 2nd pitch of an AB on an borderline-outside slider that we knew he couldn't really handle, I expect a chorus of "at least he didn't strikeout"s in the game thread.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 12:45 PM
Some of you are missing the point. Yes, striking out is a bad thing. Generally speaking, putting the ball in play is better than striking out. We agree. Done.

Now wasn't that easy?:evil: :beerme:

Jpup
01-05-2007, 12:54 PM
Now wasn't that easy?:evil: :beerme:

not as much fun though. :D

TRF
01-05-2007, 12:57 PM
Adam Dunn lifetime stats:

Batting average when striking out = .000

Batting Average on balls in play (BABIP) = .291

Which would you rather have?

Alex Gonzales Batting Average on balls in play (BABIP) = .288

Wanna tell me he is a good hitter?

Despite all those nasty K's Dunn still managed to score 99 runs, hit 40 bombs and drive in 92 in what we all feel was a very down year for him. Now where it gets all crazy is he had 26 fewer K's than the year before. His HR totals were the same, he scored 8 fewer runs and drove in 9 fewer. Proof that K's are bad! right?

Except the year before that, he set the all time K record. He also hit 46 HR's, scored 105 runs and drove in 102, which is his career high. Wanna know the real difference between 2004 and 2006? He had fewer hits. He actually walked 4 more times, but he had fewer hits and only 1 less strikeout.

So what does that mean? more than likely that his balls in play were finding gloves. The K's are a part of his game just like tape measure shots are a part of his game. It's when guys like Narron say he needs to K less that he changes his hitting approach. He goes out of the zone. I'd have preferred he turned those missing hits into BB's. He did not turn them into K's.

dsmith421
01-05-2007, 12:57 PM
Agreed with this. Dunn, Freel EE, Phillips, etc. will learn alot from contending last year.


Really?

And what difference does it make if they now "know how to contend" when they are going to lose 90 games?

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 01:28 PM
Alex Gonzales Batting Average on balls in play (BABIP) = .288 Wanna tell me he is a good hitter?

Nope, and has none of the power or skill set of one Adam Dunn.


So what does that mean? more than likely that his balls in play were finding gloves. The K's are a part of his game just like tape measure shots are a part of his game. It's when guys like Narron say he needs to K less that he changes his hitting approach. He goes out of the zone. I'd have preferred he turned those missing hits into BB's. He did not turn them into K's.

Or could it mean he was not swinging at good pitches early in the count and getting himself out on bad pitches. No one wants to turn Dunn into a singles hitter. A change in approach does not exclusively mean that. That's a tired argument. What I would like to see him do is put a good swing on and make contact on good pitches in the strikezone. Mature a little bit. Use the knowledge that he has gained by playing in the league, seeing pitchers, learning how he is being pitched and making adjustments. Adjustments are part of the game. He's not a rookie anymore.

edabbs44
01-05-2007, 01:37 PM
I think this illustrates it pretty well.

In 2006:
After the count is 0-1 (273 ABs), Dunn has an OPS of .570.
After the count is 0-2 (99 ABs), Dunn has an OPS of .372.

Now I realize that this probably goes for a lot of hitters in the league. Hitting with an 0-2 count is much more difficult than hitting with an 2-0 count. But looking at this, how many people are comfy with Dunn taking that first strike?

Related to this, Dunn (if I am reading ESPN correctly) had 55 ABs where he put the first pitch in play. OPS = 1.148.

OK...maybe someone can help me out here, but does this mean that Dunn either took the first pitch for a strike, swung and missed or fouled the first pitch off in 273 ABs?

If so, that's an awfully high number. And if roughly half of his ABs are putting him in a .570 OPS hole, then I think he can improve on that level.

The one outlier I would like to see is in how many of those ABs he looked at that first strike. In this respect, you can see that maybe his patience can have an adverse affect on him.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 01:38 PM
He is not good when down in the count.

TRF
01-05-2007, 01:40 PM
He's not a rookie, but he isn't good at making adjustments it seems. That works for and against him. Dunn will always have a good to great OBP, and he has monster power. I don't really mind the K's, but I do mind the low hit totals, and for some reason, he hit a lot fewer doubles last year. I think 40+ HR's for him is his norm, but the 2B's need to be 30+ and I think 140+ hits is just dandy. 150+ would make him a beast. With that many hits, his natural power and we are looking at 80 XBH's a year.

And I wouldn't care if he K'd 190 times a year doing it.

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 01:40 PM
If Dunn has proven anything over his few years it's that he knows what he can and can't hit and doesn't like to swing at balls he can't hit. Furthermore, Adam Dunn make less contact when he does swing than just about anybody in baseball.

Dunn strikes out because he swings and misses a ton. He works the count until he gets a ball he's capable of hitting. Yes, he watches strikes too -- but we can't assume that he'd hit those pitches if he'd only offer at them. He's the anti-Vlad when it comes to plate coverage. I think we have some reason to believe that he's not swinging at some pitches because he knows he's likely either to miss or hit the ball weakly.

For Dunn to strike out less, he needs to make more contact -- not simply swing at the pitches he's currently watching. In fact, one could make the argument that if he swung more, he'd simply strike out more. Sure, it would be great if he could turn strike outs in to hits. But let's make sure he's not turning walks & hits in to outs at an even greater rate when he's trying to do the former.

The question to me is why is Dunn getting down 0-1? Is it because he's watching hittable pitches go by or is it because pitchers are throwing him strikes that he can't turn in to hits even if he tried? Those are very different issues and assuming it's the first one is careless.

Ltlabner
01-05-2007, 01:44 PM
And for all the outrage about Dunn's K's (while he still puts up impressive numbers even in a bad year) why aren't people complaining about players who have fewer K's but hit into more ground outs than Dunn? Should they swing less to avoid more ground outs and be more effective?

Kc61
01-05-2007, 01:46 PM
Nope, and has none of the power or skill set of one Adam Dunn.



Or could it mean he was not swinging at good pitches early in the count and getting himself out on bad pitches. No one wants to turn Dunn into a singles hitter. A change in approach does not exclusively mean that. That's a tired argument. What I would like to see him do is put a good swing on and make contact on good pitches in the strikezone. Mature a little bit. Use the knowledge that he has gained by playing in the league, seeing pitchers, learning how he is being pitched and making adjustments. Adjustments are part of the game. He's not a rookie anymore.

It's all a trade off. When a hitter produces a lot (Ryan Howard last year), the strikeouts are irrelevant. When a hitter produces very little, you don't want a lot of strikeouts because it reduces the odds of something good happening. Jason Larue would be an example of a hitter who, like many catchers, didn't produce too much offensively and would likely have been better off with fewer strikeouts. If he hit the ball more, good things would happen sometimes.

With Dunn, you have a guy who is, generally speaking, high production and high strikeout. If his production continues to drop, then you have to say -- why should the team live through all these strikeouts, at bats when nothing good can happen, if he isn't producing? If his production picks up, the team can live with the strikeouts.

As a team, I think the Reds are right to try to reduce Ks because they have been such a very high strikeout offense over the past several years. Most of their hitters (and most hitters in general) need to make contact often to get their share of successful at bats. Dunn, with his enormous power, is an exception -- if he is productive overall.

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 01:52 PM
It's all a trade off. When a hitter produces a lot (Ryan Howard last year), the strikeouts are irrelevant. When a hitter produces very little, you don't want a lot of strikeouts because it reduces the odds of something good happening. Jason Larue would be an example of a hitter who, like many catchers, didn't produce too much offensively and would likely have been better off with fewer strikeouts. If he hit the ball more, good things would happen sometimes.

With Dunn, you have a guy who is, generally speaking, high production and high strikeout. If his production continues to drop, then you have to say -- why should the team live through all these strikeouts, at bats when nothing good can happen, if he isn't producing? If his production picks up, the team can live with the strikeouts.

As a team, I think the Reds are right to try to reduce Ks because they have been such a very high strikeout offense over the past several years. Most of their hitters (and most hitters in general) need to make contact often to get their share of successful at bats. Dunn, with his enormous power, is an exception -- if he is productive overall.

Just a nitpicky point but one I think underscores the nature of the disagreement on the topic. Part of the problem with focusing on the strikeout is that it unfairly weights the specific AB outcome rather than the productive possibilities of the AB leading to that outcome. By cutting down on the strikeouts you also potentially cut down on the productive possibilities of the AB leading to the eventual AB outcome.

So yes, Dunn might strikeout less. But he might also walk less and have more at bats end with an unproductive outcome. Turning 30 strikeouts in to 3 hits and 27 fielding outs is a positive change. But it's not a positive development if in doing so you also turn 10 ABs that would've been walks in to fielding outs as well.

Johnny Footstool
01-05-2007, 01:55 PM
I think this illustrates it pretty well.

In 2006:
After the count is 0-1 (273 ABs), Dunn has an OPS of .570.
After the count is 0-2 (99 ABs), Dunn has an OPS of .372.

Now I realize that this probably goes for a lot of hitters in the league. Hitting with an 0-2 count is much more difficult than hitting with an 0-2 count. But looking at this, how many people are comfy with Dunn taking that first strike

Related to this, Dunn (if I am reading ESPN correctly) had 55 ABs where he put the first pitch in play. OPS = 1.148.

That tells me that when the pitch Dunn was looking for happened to be the first pitch thrown, he crushed it mercilessly.


OK...maybe someone can help me out here, but does this mean that Dunn either took the first pitch for a strike, swung and missed or fouled the first pitch off in 273 ABs?

If so, that's an awfully high number.
Well, the outcome of a first pitch can only be a ball in play, a strike, a ball, or a hit batsman, so I don't think that's a high number.


And if roughly half of his ABs are putting him in a .570 OPS hole, then I think he can improve on that level.

The one outlier I would like to see is in how many of those ABs he looked at that first strike. In this respect, you can see that maybe his patience can have an adverse affect on him.

The other half of Dunn's plate appearances (after a 1-0 count) produced a 1.099 OPS. So that shows there is some advantage to being patient.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 02:19 PM
Dunn does take a lot of pitches that he could hit. You can tell by the look on his face when he lets one go that is right down the middle. He could be guessing. He could just not be pulling the trigger. He could be thinking about working the count, too much. When he is at his best, I think he is simply reacting to the baseball and putting a good swing on it. I've always hoped that as he matured as a hitter and a player, he would be better at identifying and making contact with a lot of the "good" pitches that he lets go and driving them more consistently. It still can happen and I hope it does. Knowing how pitchers are working him. Are they trying to get ahead early with a fastball because I'm taking early. Are they pitching me backwards. The advanced scouts notice the trends and they pound it until he adjusts. Maturity should bring better recognition. He's a great talent, and I still believe he can be even more special.

edabbs44
01-05-2007, 02:29 PM
Dunn does take a lot of pitches that he could hit. You can tell by the look on his face when he lets one go that is right down the middle. He could be guessing. He could just not be pulling the trigger. He could be thinking about working the count, too much. When he is at his best, I think he is simply reacting to the baseball and putting a good swing on it. I've always hoped that as he matured as a hitter and a player, he would be better at identifying and making contact with a lot of the "good" pitches that he lets go and driving them more consistently. It still can happen and I hope it does. Knowing how pitchers are working him. Are they trying to get ahead early with a fastball because I'm taking early. Are they pitching me backwards. The advanced scouts notice the trends and they pound it until he adjusts. Maturity should bring better recognition. He's a great talent, and I still believe he can be even more special.

Bravo...my sentiments exactly.

Team Clark
01-05-2007, 02:56 PM
Dunn does take a lot of pitches that he could hit. You can tell by the look on his face when he lets one go that is right down the middle. He could be guessing. He could just not be pulling the trigger. He could be thinking about working the count, too much. When he is at his best, I think he is simply reacting to the baseball and putting a good swing on it. I've always hoped that as he matured as a hitter and a player, he would be better at identifying and making contact with a lot of the "good" pitches that he lets go and driving them more consistently. It still can happen and I hope it does. Knowing how pitchers are working him. Are they trying to get ahead early with a fastball because I'm taking early. Are they pitching me backwards. The advanced scouts notice the trends and they pound it until he adjusts. Maturity should bring better recognition. He's a great talent, and I still believe he can be even more special.


If I were Dunn I'd be going to the plate like this......
http://www.myspacegraphicsandanimations.org/images/venom.gif

TRF
01-05-2007, 03:01 PM
If I were Dunn I'd be going to the plate like this......
http://www.myspacegraphicsandanimations.org/images/venom.gif

If he slobbered that much, he'd likely foul off a lot of pitches.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 03:11 PM
If I were Dunn I'd be going to the plate like this......
http://www.myspacegraphicsandanimations.org/images/venom.gif

Intimidating.:laugh:

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 03:12 PM
I'd have liked to have gone to the plate with some of those muscles.

fearofpopvol1
01-05-2007, 03:47 PM
Many are missing the point...I don't think they expect Dunn to change much. They just hope that he can cut down on some of those strikeouts as it could make a difference. I think what they are really hoping for are players like Phillips and/or EdE to cutback since they are not power, home run hitters. That could make a big difference.

Kc61
01-05-2007, 04:03 PM
Just a nitpicky point but one I think underscores the nature of the disagreement on the topic. By cutting down on the strikeouts you also potentially cut down on the productive possibilities of the AB leading to the eventual AB outcome.

Turning 30 strikeouts in to 3 hits and 27 fielding outs is a positive change. But it's not a positive development if in doing so you also turn 10 ABs that would've been walks in to fielding outs as well.

You say "By cutting down on the strikeouts you also potentially cut down on the productive possibilities of the AB." I don't see it that way.

When a pitcher throws strikes to you, the best way to help the team is to hit the ball. If you don't hit the ball and strike out, you are minimizing (to about zero) the possibility of helping the team.

If you don't get good pitches to hit, then a walk is a good result.

What we want from Dunn is -- to keep walking at the current clip; to continue to hit for power; but when a good pitch comes, to hit it somewhat more often. That's about it.

There is a possibility that such an effort would impair Dunn's effectiveness. In that case, he is what he is and the Reds will live with the result. But if he can make a bit more contact on pitches in the strike zone, it should only be a plus.

Hoosier Red
01-05-2007, 04:16 PM
But the argument against this KC is that there are strikes which are not good pitches for Adam to swing at.

Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure there is some common ground.

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 04:24 PM
You say "By cutting down on the strikeouts you also potentially cut down on the productive possibilities of the AB." I don't see it that way.

When a pitcher throws strikes to you, the best way to help the team is to hit the ball. If you don't hit the ball and strike out, you are minimizing (to about zero) the possibility of helping the team.

If you don't get good pitches to hit, then a walk is a good result.

What we want from Dunn is -- to keep walking at the current clip; to continue to hit for power; but when a good pitch comes, to hit it somewhat more often. That's about it.

There is a possibility that such an effort would impair Dunn's effectiveness. In that case, he is what he is and the Reds will live with the result. But if he can make a bit more contact on pitches in the strike zone, it should only be a plus.

That's a real leap. Duh. If Dunn could be making more (good) contact with balls in the strike zone, I get the feeling he would. Do you think Dunn is letting balls he knows he can hit go because he wants a walk?

Yet again, you are assuming that just because a pitch is a strike that Dunn could've made decent contact with itl. Dunn already has one of the lower contact rates in the game. He is not good at making contact with the balls he currently chooses to swing at and now you guys want him swinging at balls that are harder for him to contact. (harder by his own judgement - unless you honestly believe he's pitches he thinks he can drive go because he just likes to walk so much). Also, sometimes you take a strike in an AB that leads to a walk (an outcome with a 100% chance of helping the team) whereas if you put that ball in play you only have a 30% chance of help the team. It's not like watching strikes go always leads to a strikeout.

I don't argue the bolded conclusion. Dunn would be a more productive hitter if he put balls in play in at bats in which he is currently striking out. I argue the premise which says all Dunn has to do is swing at more strikes for that to happen. Ask Ted Williams about swing at pitches which you either aren't sure about or know you can't handle. Knowing where the ball is going to be is only half the battle.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 04:49 PM
I don't think it is always Adam Dunn not swinging at a pitch because he knows he can't handle it. Sometimes I think he is fooled or just can't pull the trigger. And. by the way, a lot of the balls that he chooses to swing at, particularly late in the count, are pitchers pitches that I know he can't handle. Sometimes, I'd like to see him swing at some of those earlier fastballs that he has a chance to handle.

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 04:57 PM
I don't think it is always Adam Dunn not swinging at a pitch because he knows he can't handle it. Sometimes I think he is fooled or just can't pull the trigger. And. by the way, a lot of the balls that he chooses to swing at, particularly late in the count, are pitchers pitches that I know he can't handle. Sometimes, I'd like to see him swing at some of those earlier fastballs that he has a chance to handle.

So you want him to swing at pitches that fool him? Why don't you think he can pull the trigger on those? I'm not trying to glib, just asking what he could be told or could learn that would help either of those problems.

I inclined to think that he swings at pitches he thinks he can hit. If he was able to differentiate the pitches that fool him from those that are legitimately bad pitches, well, then he wouldn't have been fooled by the pitch.

So either he's simply taking pitches he knows he can hit and you want him to stop doing that or he's being fooled by pitches and your solution is to swing at pitches that fool him (or to stop being fooled.... duh).

Kc61
01-05-2007, 05:00 PM
That's a real leap. Duh. If Dunn could be making more (good) contact with balls in the strike zone, I get the feeling he would. Do you think Dunn is letting balls he knows he can hit go because he wants a walk?

Yet again, you are assuming that just because a pitch is a strike that Dunn could've made decent contact with itl. Dunn already has one of the lower contact rates in the game. He is not good at making contact with the balls he currently chooses to swing at and now you guys want him swinging at balls that are harder for him to contact. (harder by his own judgement - unless you honestly believe he's pitches he thinks he can drive go because he just likes to walk so much). Also, sometimes you take a strike in an AB that leads to a walk (an outcome with a 100% chance of helping the team) whereas if you put that ball in play you only have a 30% chance of help the team. It's not like watching strikes go always leads to a strikeout.

I don't argue the bolded conclusion. Dunn would be a more productive hitter if he put balls in play in at bats in which he is currently striking out. I argue the premise which says all Dunn has to do is swing at more strikes for that to happen. Ask Ted Williams about swing at pitches which you either aren't sure about or know you can't handle. Knowing where the ball is going to be is only half the battle.

You say that "If Dunn could be making more (good) contact with balls in the strike zone, I get the feeling he would."

Whatever feeling you may get, either he can't improve (as you seem to suggest) or he can. I think he can with proper coaching and maturity.

Anyone who has watched Dunn can readily see certain trends. He doesn't shorten up or otherwise adjust with two strikes. He frequently swings off-balance. These are the kinds of things that can be improved.

The issue is not the frequency of his swings. Dunn swings plenty. The question is improving his hitting mechanics so that he makes contact more without sacrificing power and without swinging at more pitches out of the zone.

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 05:11 PM
You say that "If Dunn could be making more (good) contact with balls in the strike zone, I get the feeling he would."

Whatever feeling you may get, either he can't improve (as you seem to suggest) or he can. I think he can with proper coaching and maturity.

Anyone who has watched Dunn can readily see certain trends. He doesn't shorten up or otherwise adjust with two strikes. He frequently swings off-balance. These are the kinds of things that can be improved.

The issue is not the frequency of his swings. Dunn swings plenty. The question is improving his hitting mechanics so that he makes contact more without sacrificing power and without swinging at more pitches out of the zone.

Ok, fair enough. That's my point. Simply swinging more isn't going to help. If mechanical or stance changes can be made which will increase his contact rate, I'm all for it. Swinging and missing is NEVER a good thing. Choosing not to swing is a much more complicated situation with many pros and cons.

Redsland
01-05-2007, 05:52 PM
Posited: Adam Dunn should strike out less because if he puts the ball in play, he can advance runners and other good stuff like that.

Evidence: In 2006, Adam Dunn struck out 194 times. 107 of those strikeouts occurred when no one was on base to be advanced. 37 of those 194 strikeouts occurred with runners on and two outs, thereby ending the inning, and preventing any subsequent "good stuff" from happening.

Therefore, in 74% (144/194) of Adam Dunn's strikeouts, either no runners were present to be stranded, or no additional outs remained after the strikeout in which to do "good stuff."

Of the 50 remaining strikeouts in which there were both baserunners and outs remaining (194-107-37=50), if Adam had put the ball in play, "good stuff" (i.e. an error) might possibly have happened. The National League's fielding percentage for 2006 was .982. Therefore, those 50 strikeouts, if they had been put into play, would have been expected to result in (50x.982=49.1-50=0.9) one error.

Conclusion: Adam Dunn’s strikeouts have no effect on his production in three cases out of four, and in the remaining case costs him one “good event” per season.

Opinion: Obtaining that good event would necessitate changing Adam’s approach to such an extent that to eliminate 50 strikeouts would rob him of gobs of power. No thanks.

Posited: Strikeouts put less pressure on the defense, and thereby suppress your ability to score.

Evidence: In 2006, Philadelphia led the NL in runs with 865. Therefore Philadelphia probably shouldn’t have also racked up the third-highest strikeout total. But they did. Only two teams had fewer strikeouts than Chicago, so the Cubs probably should have scored more than 716 runs, but they didn’t and finished second-to-last in that category.

Conclusion: Strikeouts don’t affect run scoring.

Posited: You can’t win with a bunch of strikeout artists who don’t put the ball in play.

Evidence: Between 1970 and 1979, the Reds struck out more than any other team in the NL while winning 6 division titles, 4 pennants, and 2 world championships.

Conclusion: Obvious.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 05:59 PM
So you want him to swing at pitches that fool him? Why don't you think he can pull the trigger on those? I'm not trying to glib, just asking what he could be told or could learn that would help either of those problems.

I inclined to think that he swings at pitches he thinks he can hit. If he was able to differentiate the pitches that fool him from those that are legitimately bad pitches, well, then he wouldn't have been fooled by the pitch.

So either he's simply taking pitches he knows he can hit and you want him to stop doing that or he's being fooled by pitches and your solution is to swing at pitches that fool him (or to stop being fooled.... duh).

Maybe not preparing for a particular pitcher or going over scouting reports. Maybe guessing curve ball. Maybe just didn't swing.(I've done it many times and wondered to myself afterward, what are you waiting for?)

A lot of the pitches that he takes early in counts are pretty sweet looking "get ahead" fastballs. It's obvious to me that there are stretches when pitchers do that to Dunn. Go over that scouting report a little closer and know the trends. Be looking for them. Take advantage of fastballs early in the count, particularly from pitchers who are pounding the zone. Don't get in 0-2, 1-2 counts by taking better pitches than the last one that he is swinging at and missing. Those 0-2, 1-2 sliders, particularly from lefthanders, are nasty. Yeah, I want him to swing at pitches that fool him,:rolleyes: By the way, guys that strikeout as much as Dunn, do that quite a bit. If he is legitimately fooled, there is nothing you can do. Better focus and preparation might be a start.

RANDY IN INDY
01-05-2007, 06:00 PM
Posited: Adam Dunn should strike out less because if he puts the ball in play, he can advance runners and other good stuff like that.

Evidence: In 2006, Adam Dunn struck out 194 times. 107 of those strikeouts occurred when no one was on base to be advanced. 37 of those 194 strikeouts occurred with runners on and two outs, thereby ending the inning, and preventing any subsequent "good stuff" from happening.

Therefore, in 74% (144/194) of Adam Dunn's strikeouts, either no runners were present to be stranded, or no additional outs remained after the strikeout in which to do "good stuff."

Of the 50 remaining strikeouts in which there were both baserunners and outs remaining (194-107-37=50), if Adam had put the ball in play, "good stuff" (i.e. an error) might possibly have happened. The National League's fielding percentage for 2006 was .982. Therefore, those 50 strikeouts, if they had been put into play, would have been expected to result in (50x.982=49.1-50=0.9) one error.

Conclusion: Adam Dunnís strikeouts have no effect on his production in three cases out of four, and in the remaining case costs him one ďgood eventĒ per season.

Opinion: Obtaining that good event would necessitate changing Adamís approach to such an extent that to eliminate 50 strikeouts would rob him of gobs of power. No thanks.

Posited: Strikeouts put less pressure on the defense, and thereby suppress your ability to score.

Evidence: In 2006, Philadelphia led the NL in runs with 865. Therefore Philadelphia probably shouldnít have also racked up the third-highest strikeout total. But they did. Only two teams had fewer strikeouts than Chicago, so the Cubs probably should have scored more than 716 runs, but they didnít and finished second-to-last in that category.

Conclusion: Strikeouts donít affect run scoring.

Posited: You canít win with a bunch of strikeout artists who donít put the ball in play.

Evidence: Between 1970 and 1979, the Reds struck out more than any other team in the NL while winning 6 division titles, 4 pennants, and 2 world championships.

Conclusion: Obvious.

Yeah, that Big Red Machine had some players.

RedsManRick
01-05-2007, 06:24 PM
Conclusion: Strikeouts don’t affect run scoring.

Posited: You can’t win with a bunch of strikeout artists who don’t put the ball in play.

Just a real quick clarification because I think this concept is real stumbling block. I would argue that strikeouts, if everything else could be held equal, slightly depress production compared to non-strikeout outs (which have, presumably have some non-0 production value, though really really small particularly due to the offset of double plays).

HOWEVER, they are very highly correlated with production in non-out events.

It's not that strikeouts don't affect run scoring. It's that the skill set that usually leads to lots of strikeouts, also leads to a whole lot of runs being scored. If it were possible to lower strikeouts without affecting the remainder of the skill set in any way, that be great.

However, all the anecdotal evidence I've seen (including Dunn himself) suggests that artificial attempts to lower strikeout rate depress the rate of highly productive non-out events as well, thereby not only erasing any gains from lower strikeout rates but lowering overall production.

Like communism, simply converting strikeouts to balls in play is a great idea if all your assumptions hold true, but in reality, there are spurious interactions that make the practice ineffective if not detrimental.

In short, it's not that strikeouts are good. It's that they correlate very strongly with production and attempts to lower strikeouts tend to lower production as well. While you may posit that we can break that correlation, the anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.

Redsland
01-05-2007, 06:30 PM
Point well taken. Perhaps I should have said "strikeouts don't suppress run production."

Johnny Footstool
01-05-2007, 06:36 PM
You say "By cutting down on the strikeouts you also potentially cut down on the productive possibilities of the AB." I don't see it that way.

When a pitcher throws strikes to you, the best way to help the team is to hit the ball. If you don't hit the ball and strike out, you are minimizing (to about zero) the possibility of helping the team.

If you don't get good pitches to hit, then a walk is a good result.

What we want from Dunn is -- to keep walking at the current clip; to continue to hit for power; but when a good pitch comes, to hit it somewhat more often. That's about it.

There is a possibility that such an effort would impair Dunn's effectiveness. In that case, he is what he is and the Reds will live with the result. But if he can make a bit more contact on pitches in the strike zone, it should only be a plus.

I understand what you're suggesting: Dunn should work on pitch recognition and being able to pull the trigger on fat pitches in the zone.

Some people have been suggesting that Dunn "shorten his swing" or make some similar adjustment with two strikes for the explicit purpose of reducing strikeouts. That is a totally different thing, and one that I disagree with wholeheartedly for the reasons I've mentioned ad nauseum.

TRF
01-05-2007, 06:59 PM
But a short compact swing is the approach Bonds took, and that + better living through chemistry seems to have worked for him.

Dunn's eye and approach plus a more compact swing could still work and not reduce his power numbers at all.

edabbs44
01-05-2007, 11:06 PM
Posited: Adam Dunn should strike out less because if he puts the ball in play, he can advance runners and other good stuff like that.

Evidence: In 2006, Adam Dunn struck out 194 times. 107 of those strikeouts occurred when no one was on base to be advanced. 37 of those 194 strikeouts occurred with runners on and two outs, thereby ending the inning, and preventing any subsequent "good stuff" from happening.

Therefore, in 74% (144/194) of Adam Dunn's strikeouts, either no runners were present to be stranded, or no additional outs remained after the strikeout in which to do "good stuff."

Of the 50 remaining strikeouts in which there were both baserunners and outs remaining (194-107-37=50), if Adam had put the ball in play, "good stuff" (i.e. an error) might possibly have happened. The National League's fielding percentage for 2006 was .982. Therefore, those 50 strikeouts, if they had been put into play, would have been expected to result in (50x.982=49.1-50=0.9) one error.

Conclusion: Adam Dunn’s strikeouts have no effect on his production in three cases out of four, and in the remaining case costs him one “good event” per season.

You are assuming that by putting the ball into play, "good things" = errors. Putting the ball into plays can also equal hits and moving runners over.

Opinion: Obtaining that good event would necessitate changing Adam’s approach to such an extent that to eliminate 50 strikeouts would rob him of gobs of power. No thanks.

Posited: Strikeouts put less pressure on the defense, and thereby suppress your ability to score.

Evidence: In 2006, Philadelphia led the NL in runs with 865. Therefore Philadelphia probably shouldn’t have also racked up the third-highest strikeout total. But they did. Only two teams had fewer strikeouts than Chicago, so the Cubs probably should have scored more than 716 runs, but they didn’t and finished second-to-last in that category.

Conclusion: Strikeouts don’t affect run scoring.

There are always outliers. Explain Detroit's WS run with an awful team OBP.

Posited: You can’t win with a bunch of strikeout artists who don’t put the ball in play.

Evidence: Between 1970 and 1979, the Reds struck out more than any other team in the NL while winning 6 division titles, 4 pennants, and 2 world championships.

What were Cincy's peripherals in those years? How was their BA? OBP? When you hit .257 as a team, like Cincy did last season, you need to do something. You can't get on base when you whiff.

Conclusion: Obvious.

This is the argument I have with everyone on here about all of these assumptions in addition to my bolded responses above.

When people say walks are great, they assume the only choice is a walk vs an out. How about a walk vs a hit?

When people say Ks don't matter, they compare Ks vs other outs. How about vs hits?

Here is a perfect summarization from a blog I found. Link posted below.


At the same time, his strikeout rate has climbed from one for every four plate appearances in 2002, his first full season in the majors, to one whiff for every 3.65 plate appearances the last three years. The issue with Dunn's strikeouts isn't that they are more damaging than any other kind of out he makes. It's that he could be creating more opportunities to reach base or advance runners if he could make more consistent contact at the plate.

http://blog.stats.com/2006/12/should_the_reds_be_concerned_a.html

Redsland
01-06-2007, 01:55 AM
You are assuming that by putting the ball into play, "good things" = errors. Putting the ball into plays can also equal hits and moving runners over.
I already addressed the issue of advancing runners. As for the ol' "productive out," here's what SteelSD (http://www.redszone.com/forums/showpost.php?p=515476&postcount=180) had to say about those:

Non-choice Productive Outs (meaning we're excluding bunts) occurred at a rate of only 2.1% of all Plate Appearances in 2004. Knowing that Base Hits PLUS Sac Flies were the result of only 24.3% of all PA in 2004, we can use that information to understand that a random ball hit into play Productive Out to move a Runner is truly beneficial AT MOST in 0.05% (yeah, half of one percent) of all MLB Plate Appearances. We also know that Productive Out behavior decreases the overall number of Runs scored by an Offense over time.

Now again, that's AT MOST 0.05% of all PA. Considering that not all Base Hits score runners advanced by a "Productive Out", you've got yourself a big bunch of nothing.

There are always outliers. Explain Detroit's WS run with an awful team OBP.
Only one AL team had more strikeouts last year than pennant-winning Detroit. Are you sure you want to use them to support your point of view on this issue?

What were Cincy's peripherals in those years? How was their BA? OBP?
Do your own research. I did mine.

When people say walks are great, they assume the only choice is a walk vs an out.
Really? Is that what everyone thinks? Are you sure? For that matter, what do walks have to do with strikeouts?

Here is a perfect summarization from a blog I found.
That "perfect" quote says Adam "...could be creating more opportunities to reach base or advance runners if he could make more consistent contact at the plate." I've already shown the falsity of that claim vis a vis strikeouts.

edabbs44
01-06-2007, 10:42 AM
I already addressed the issue of advancing runners. As for the ol' "productive out," here's what SteelSD had to say about those:

Non-choice Productive Outs (meaning we're excluding bunts) occurred at a rate of only 2.1% of all Plate Appearances in 2004. Knowing that Base Hits PLUS Sac Flies were the result of only 24.3% of all PA in 2004, we can use that information to understand that a random ball hit into play Productive Out to move a Runner is truly beneficial AT MOST in 0.05% (yeah, half of one percent) of all MLB Plate Appearances. We also know that Productive Out behavior decreases the overall number of Runs scored by an Offense over time.

Now again, that's AT MOST 0.05% of all PA. Considering that not all Base Hits score runners advanced by a "Productive Out", you've got yourself a big bunch of nothing.

All PAs would include when there are no runners on base, no? Where there would be no such possibility of a productive out? Maybe the actual population should be "all PAs where there is a runner on base and less than 2 outs", where there is an actual possibility of a productive out.


Only one AL team had more strikeouts last year than pennant-winning Detroit. Are you sure you want to use them to support your point of view on this issue?
Again...outliers.


Do your own research. I did mine.
I did. The Reds offense in the 70s could afford strikeouts. Consistently leading the league in BA, OBP, R, HR and the rest. When the 2006 version hits in the .250s, maybe putting the ball in play would help a little.


Really? Is that what everyone thinks? Are you sure? For that matter, what do walks have to do with strikeouts?
Whenever there is a OBP argument on here, the response is "walks are better than outs". I was comparing that to your argument about Dunn's strikeouts. You said that 50 of Dunn's Ks, if put in play, would result in one error. But you didn't mention that he might get a hit or two if they were put into play.


That "perfect" quote says Adam "...could be creating more opportunities to reach base or advance runners if he could make more consistent contact at the plate." I've already shown the falsity of that claim vis a vis strikeouts.
The falsity of Dunn reaching base more by not striking out as much? I missed that part. Please prove the falsity again, b/c I just cannot see how striking out less would not create more opportunities to reach base. And the advance runners part is a bit skewed, as noted above.

Yachtzee
01-06-2007, 12:16 PM
Who says a K where the batter takes the count full is any less a productive out than a batter who swings away and slaps the first pitch to the second baseman? If I had the choice, I'd much rather see batters work the count to get a pitch they can drive than swing away aggressively and allow the pitcher to get out of the inning on less than 6 pitches. That's the way that leads to complete game shutouts.

Putting the bat on the ball early in the count may result in positive outcomes if the player sees a pitch he can drive and turns on it, but it's not always so. While an aggressive approach may result in the batter getting a few more hits and reaching on errors more often, it may also result in fewer walks and extra-base hits, and will likely allow the opposing pitcher to get out of the inning on fewer pitches. I think if you weigh the positives v. the negatives of an aggressive approach at the plate, you probably end up with more negatives than positives. Besides, the only way we can tell for sure what kind of effect Ks have on production is to look on what real effect it has on scoring runs. As has been documented in this thread and in many others on this site, Ks really don't have much of a negative effect on scoring runs at all.

That being said, Adam Dunn has an issue with pitch recognition. I will agree that he has looked at more than a few "tasty meatballs" in the past, then chased after a nasty curve later in the count. But Adam is still young and pitch recognition can still come with age. People compare him to Barry Bonds, but Barry Bonds has had a long career and has seen way more major league pitching. I hope Adam's patience will allow him to develop the pitch recognition to make him one of the most dangerous hitters in the league, if he isn't one already. At this point, I hope the Reds don't give him away for a bag of magic beans just because he Ks too much.

Falls City Beer
01-06-2007, 12:19 PM
Who says a K where the batter takes the count full is any less a productive out than a batter who swings away and slaps the first pitch to the second baseman? If I had the choice, I'd much rather see batters work the count to get a pitch they can drive than swing away aggressively and allow the pitcher to get out of the inning on less than 6 pitches. That's the way that leads to complete game shutouts.
.

Very well said. A ball game is a series of connected causes and effects--not the least of which is making the opposing pitcher work his arse off. In fact, pretty much all great offenses are predicated on that method.

RANDY IN INDY
01-06-2007, 01:01 PM
Why does being agressive on balls in the strikezone have to do away with having a good plate approach, drawing walks, etc.? Yes, it does have to do with pitch recognition and good hitters identify those pitches and capitalize on them. In any at bat, you are likely only going to get 1, maybe 2 pitches that you can handle. Why let that pitch go if it is the first or second pitch in the count and face the nasty stuff you can't handle the rest of the at bat? Sure, some pitchers are going to fall behind, and you might get a good pitch to hit late in the count. If you are Adam Dunn, a lot of times, that isn't going to happen either. That's another reason he draws a lot of walks. Smart pitchers stay away from the power that can really hurt you and make for a short night on the hill. That's why I feel it is vitally important that as he matures as a hitter that he identify those fat pitches and hammer them, even if they occur early in the count. I am not suggesting that he go out of the stike zone, swing and miss and get behind early, but that really is no different than taking strikes early in the count and getting behind. Same result. 0-2, 1-2 and nasty unhittable pitches that can make you look really bad.

Yachtzee
01-06-2007, 01:31 PM
Why does being agressive on balls in the strikezone have to do away with having a good plate approach, drawing walks, etc.? Yes, it does have to do with pitch recognition and good hitters identify those pitches and capitalize on them. In any at bat, you are likely only going to get 1, maybe 2 pitches that you can handle. Why let that pitch go if it is the first or second pitch in the count and face the nasty stuff you can't handle the rest of the at bat? Sure, some pitchers are going to fall behind, and you might get a good pitch to hit late in the count. If you are Adam Dunn, a lot of times, that isn't going to happen either. That's another reason he draws a lot of walks. Smart pitchers stay away from the power that can really hurt you and make for a short night on the hill. That's why I feel it is vitally important that as he matures as a hitter that he identify those fat pitches and hammer them, even if they occur early in the count. I am not suggesting that he go out of the stike zone, swing and miss and get behind early, but that really is no different than taking strikes early in the count and getting behind. Same result. 0-2, 1-2 and nasty unhittable pitches that can make you look really bad.

Randy, I think this concern if valid if you are dealing with a top-notch talent like a Greg Maddux in his prime, who doesn't make many mistakes. For pitchers like him who can use precise control to expand the strike zone, you may have to jump on any mistakes he makes when you can. Waiting for a pitch against him may be dangerous, because he can expand the strike zone and throw a complete game in under 90 pitches, even if you are being patient.

On the other hand, I think that, for the average level of pitching talent in the majors these days, the more pitches they make, the more likely they are to make mistakes and leave one out over the plate. For those pitchers, it makes sense to wait and take pitches early to get those pitch counts up. A guy who has made over 100 pitches in five innings is going to be tired, he will make mistakes, and you and your teammates are likely to be the beneficiary.

Granted, I don't have your playing/coaching experience, but I believe if I want to make Adam Dunn a better hitter, I do two things: First, I put him in a position where he's likely to see better pitches, 2nd or 3rd in the lineup. For much of his career, Adam has had to bat 5th because Griffey has been batting 3rd and they wanted to avoid batting two lefties in a row. As a result, everyone has been able to pitch around him. Put Adam up in the lineup where he has protection and he sees better pitches, right? At least that's the theory. Second, lay off on him about being aggressive or "doing this" or "doing that." Let him work on adjusting to pitches himself without changing his approach. Patience at the plate is a skill not easily taught and I think it only helps him with his chances to improve his pitch recognition. What is the likely result of telling Adam to jump on those early pitches? Will he recognize the ones he can drive better, or will he likely get fooled more often, and strikeout even more and walk less?

Cyclone792
01-06-2007, 01:32 PM
I've lost track of how many times I've posted this, but it seems people either forget, don't know what any of it means, or just skipped it during the first few rounds ...

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2617



As we've stated on a number of different occasions throughout the Baseball Prospectus Basics series, one of the goals of performance analysis is to separate perception from reality. Sometimes that means interpreting numbers, and sometimes that means interpreting events with our eyes. Either way, it's about collecting information, and getting a little bit closer to the truth.

Evaluating the importance of strikeouts, especially for hitters, is something that has traditionally fallen into the second category. And it's easy to understand why: baseball is a game that centers around the ongoing conflict between batter and pitcher, and there are few outcomes that capture the drama of that conflict better than a mighty whiff, followed by a long walk back to the bench. On the surface at least, a strikeout appears to be the ultimate failure for a hitter—infinitely worse than a Texas-leaguer or a flyout to center.

From a quantitative perspective, however, there is little evidence to suggest that a strikeout is "worse" than a groundout, popout, or any other means of making an out, with respect to generating runs. Sure, it might look bad—not even being able to put the ball in play—but the fact is that error rates, in this era of improved equipment, are as low as they’ve ever been. Granted, putting the ball in play, whether in the air or on the ground, can sometimes enable a hitter to advance a runner, but it also increases the chance of hitting into a double-play—a far greater rally-killer than a strikeout.

As a result of all that, the value of "just putting the ball in play" is as low as it's ever been. The following graph illustrates the correlation—or lack thereof—between team strikeouts and team run scoring from 1950-2002:


http://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/images/2617_02.gif

As you can see by the round, lifeless blob in the middle of the graph, there is virtually no positive correlation between a team's strikeout totals and its runs-scored totals. When it comes to offense, an out is an out is an out.

On an individual level, the evidence against strikeouts as the scourge of the earth only gets more damning. Check out the correlation between Ks and the various elements of offensive production:

Correlation of SO/PA with (all players 1950-2002, 300+ PA):


Metric Correlation
----------------------
ISO +0.388
SLG +0.198
BB/PA +0.125
OBP -0.100
AVG -0.290

OPS +0.106
MLVr +0.005

While it might not be overwhelming, there is a distinct, positive correlation between an individual's strikeout rate and a number of useful attributes: hitting for power—as represented in this case by isolated power (ISO, or slugging percentage minus batting average) and slugging percentage (SLG)—as well as drawing walks—as represented by walk-rate (BB/PA). Of course, causation is a sticky subject, so try not to misinterpret the above data as "proof" that increased strikeouts cause an improvement in a player's secondary skills. It's just that where one group shows up, often so does the other.

Notice, also, the virtually non-existent (albeit positive) correlation between strikeout rate and "complete" measures of offensive performance like on-base plus slugging (OPS) and Marginal Lineup Value Rate (MLVr). No matter how you slice it, it just doesn't appear that strikeouts have much of an effect on a team's—or an individual's—ability to produce runs.

But those are hitters. Pitchers, on the other hand, are a completely different story.

Where the value of "just putting the ball in play" has often been overstated for hitters, the opposite has long been the case for pitchers. In their case, a strikeout is most definitely not "just another out." In fact, the ability to create outs for one's self is among the most important skills a pitcher can possess.

Why? There are a number of reasons, but mainly it's because more strikeouts mean fewer balls in play. Fewer balls in play mean (on average) fewer hits surrendered. And with fewer hits surrendered come fewer runs allowed. The steps aren't perfect, mind you, but on a macro level they hold up. The following graph illustrates the correlation between individual strikeout rate and ERA from 1993-2002:


http://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/images/2617_01.gif

Or, to perhaps give this conclusion some real-world resonance, look at the disparity in ERA between those pitchers with the highest strikeout rates in the league in 2003 and those at the bottom of the barrel:



Pitcher SO/9 ERA
------------------------------------
Kerry Wood 11.35 3.20
Mark Prior 10.43 2.43
Curt Schilling 10.39 2.95
Pedro Martinez 9.93 2.22
Javier Vazquez 9.40 3.24


Pitcher SO/9 ERA
------------------------------------
Joe Mays 3.46 6.30
Danny Graves 3.20 5.33
Aaron Cook 3.12 6.02
Kirk Rueter 2.51 4.53
Nate Cornejo 2.13 4.67

The difference isn't accidental. In a nine-inning complete game, Kerry Wood is roughly 30% less reliant upon his defense to convert batted balls into outs than someone like Kirk Rueter or Nate Cornejo would be. That's not just a huge difference, that's a Marlon-Brando-pulling-up-a-chair-to-the-buffet difference.

Strikeout rate also has predictive value. According to a study conducted by Keith Woolner, pitchers with high strikeout rates age better than comparable pitchers (i.e., pitchers who posted similar park-adjusted ERAs at the same age) with low strikeout rates. Bill James also gave this subject some treatment in his most recent edition of the Historical Baseball Abstract when discussing Mark Fidrych, and came to a similar—if slightly hyperbolic, as Tommy John can attest—conclusion: "There is simply no such thing as a starting pitcher who has a long career with a low strikeout rate."

The prominence of the strikeout in Major League Baseball has been increasing steadily over the past 130 years, and it may continue to grow as teams begin to let go of their macho attachment to "just putting the ball in play" on offense, while further valuing pitchers who are self-sufficient on the mound. Like many other developments in baseball, this will be a sign of evolution, and a better game overall will be the result.

Don't fear the strikeout. In many ways it is a harbinger of better things to come.

Redsland
01-06-2007, 02:23 PM
All PAs would include when there are no runners on base, no? Where there would be no such possibility of a productive out? Maybe the actual population should be "all PAs where there is a runner on base and less than 2 outs", where there is an actual possibility of a productive out.
If someone is contending that Adam Dunn should alter his approach at the plate in order to increase his rate of good outcomes, including productive outs, then it's fair to ask how often that new plate approach might bear fruit. As Steel noted, the answer is one half of one percent of the time.

During the course of a 600-PA season, that means he'd advance three runners. Since he'd have to fundamentally change his plate approach to achieve such little reward, I for one am glad he hasn't done it.

Again...outliers.
Or OBP and K don't have much to do with each other.

Florida and Milwaukee were #1/#2 in K's, and #23/#25 in OBP, which hints toward a possible relationship between these variables. But the #3 and #4 teams in K's were Cleveland and Philadelphia, which finished #3 and #6 in OBP, so maybe there isn't a relationship after all. In fact, the results are all over the map. The top two OBP teams (Yankees, Red Sox) were in the middle of the pack in team K's, not at the bottom. The worst OBP team was Tampa, which finished in the middle third for team K's, not at the top. The next three worst OBP teams (Cubs, Giants, Mariners) were all among the top 10 teams in avoiding K's, which seems counter to your premise. Minnesota had the fewest K's, but only the seventh-best OBP.

The Reds offense in the 70s could afford strikeouts. Consistently leading the league in BA, OBP, R, HR and the rest.
So, by virtue of high OBP (which Adam has), high run totals (which Adam has), and high HR totals (which Adam has), the BRM could "afford" K's, but Adam can't? That seems nonsensical. Presumably you're contending this solely due to the remaining stat you mentioned, his BA. As you probably know, that's a stat that's falling farther and farther out of favor.

Whenever there is a OBP argument on here, the response is "walks are better than outs".
They are. But strikeouts are only one kind of out, and walks are only one kind of on-base event. Forest, trees.

Please prove the falsity again, b/c I just cannot see how striking out less would not create more opportunities to reach base.
Merely reread my earlier post and a half-dozen others provided by other Zoners in this thread. To summarize, 50 fewer strikeouts can be expected to turn into one error. 200 K's a season rob Adam of one productive out.

The positives that could come from having Adam alter his plate approach are laughably miniscule. The damage such an alteration might have to the rest of his game could be staggering.

RANDY IN INDY
01-06-2007, 03:51 PM
Randy, I think this concern if valid if you are dealing with a top-notch talent like a Greg Maddux in his prime, who doesn't make many mistakes. For pitchers like him who can use precise control to expand the strike zone, you may have to jump on any mistakes he makes when you can. Waiting for a pitch against him may be dangerous, because he can expand the strike zone and throw a complete game in under 90 pitches, even if you are being patient.

On the other hand, I think that, for the average level of pitching talent in the majors these days, the more pitches they make, the more likely they are to make mistakes and leave one out over the plate. For those pitchers, it makes sense to wait and take pitches early to get those pitch counts up. A guy who has made over 100 pitches in five innings is going to be tired, he will make mistakes, and you and your teammates are likely to be the beneficiary.

Granted, I don't have your playing/coaching experience, but I believe if I want to make Adam Dunn a better hitter, I do two things: First, I put him in a position where he's likely to see better pitches, 2nd or 3rd in the lineup. For much of his career, Adam has had to bat 5th because Griffey has been batting 3rd and they wanted to avoid batting two lefties in a row. As a result, everyone has been able to pitch around him. Put Adam up in the lineup where he has protection and he sees better pitches, right? At least that's the theory. Second, lay off on him about being aggressive or "doing this" or "doing that." Let him work on adjusting to pitches himself without changing his approach. Patience at the plate is a skill not easily taught and I think it only helps him with his chances to improve his pitch recognition. What is the likely result of telling Adam to jump on those early pitches? Will he recognize the ones he can drive better, or will he likely get fooled more often, and strikeout even more and walk less?

Depends on where your theories fall in this argument.

As far as the mistakes, if you are "taking" them, what good is it going to do. A mistake is a mistake, be it at 0-0 or 3-2, 100 pitches or 10. You still have to recognize it and be ready to take advantage of those pitches, and I'm not saying to be a total hacker and not to try and run up a guys pitch count.. Seems like it is either or with some of you guys. You have to hit the pitch you can handle when it is given. If you are not somewhat agressive in looking for those pitches, you are prone to swing at a lot of pitchers pitches.

I guess all that I'm saying is that I hope as Adam Dunn matures, that he starts making pitchers pay for those "get ahead" fastballs that they throw him. No telling what it could do for his HR and RBI totals. Yeah, stay patient, but recognize the pitches and the patterns and make the guys pay. Those bombs that he hits on those pitches are just as apt to drive a pitcher's pitch count up by making him get real careful and trying to keep his pitches more on the fringe of the strikezone than he already is trying. I've been there. It is not easy to regroup after one of those bombs.

WMR
01-06-2007, 04:04 PM
Unfortunate there's not a limit on the number of dumb cliches an author can use in a single 'article.'

vaticanplum
01-06-2007, 06:39 PM
A ball game is a series of connected causes and effects--not the least of which is making the opposing pitcher work his arse off. In fact, pretty much all great offenses are predicated on that method.

Dunn was eleventh in the league in total number of pitches thrown at him in 2006, his "bad" year.

Kc61
01-06-2007, 10:30 PM
Dunn was eleventh in the league in total number of pitches thrown at him in 2006, his "bad" year.

After about August 1, I wonder how many of them he actually hit.

vaticanplum
01-07-2007, 02:43 PM
After about August 1, I wonder how many of them he actually hit.

That wasn't really my point. I was making a point about the benefits of forcing guys to throw a lot of pitches. Nobody else on the team hit anything in August either, but they don't collectively wear out pitchers the way Dunn does.