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Thread: To Push or Not to Push..That is the question

  1. #16
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    Re: To Push or Not to Push..That is the question

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    Generally, my rule has been if a young hitter keeps his PA/BB ratio under 12, then his walk rate is acceptable.
    As time goes on, I'm more reluctant to draw hard conclusions about a prospect's plate discipline based on his walk rate. As you said, there's a baseline beyond which a guy is probably too free-swinging. But within that baseline, there are a whole range of reasons why walk rates might differ. Without looking at pitch-by-pitch data to see what he's swinging at and what he's taking, we don't really know whether the problem (if there is one) is strike-zone judgment or just impatience.
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  3. #17
    Ya can't teach speed... Triples's Avatar
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    Re: To Push or Not to Push..That is the question

    Why a ratio under 12? Is there something important about that number or is it just arbitrary?

    [QUOTE=Cyclone792;1326142]Generally, my rule has been if a young hitter keeps his PA/BB ratio under 12, then his walk rate is acceptable.
    Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal. ~George Will


  4. #18
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    Re: To Push or Not to Push..That is the question

    Quote Originally Posted by Triples View Post
    Why a ratio under 12? Is there something important about that number or is it just arbitrary?
    Couple of reasons it's important for me ...

    First, the average MLB hitter has a PA/BB ratio of around 11-12 each season so if a prospect can carry that same ratio, then he's drawing a walk at a rate equal to that of an average major league hitter. For a prospect such as Jay Bruce, it's actually somewhat impressive. Bruce is quite young for the FSL at a mere 20 years and 1 month, and he's also simultaneously tearing the league up in every other aspect of hitting. He's maintaining a walk rate on par of an average MLB hitter while crushing the ball in a league where he's also one of the youngest players.

    Second, good, young hitting prospects who can maintain a PA/BB rate of under 12 early in their careers - both throughout the minors and their early MLB careers - can join what I call the Alex Rodriguez Club. Rodriguez isn't the only member of this outstanding club, but he's probably the most recognized member. Miguel Cabrera looks like he may become another member, at least based on the returns of his 2006 season. This club is full of good, young hitters who maintained that acceptable walk rate hovering around 12 plate appearances per walk, but early in their major league careers saw a surge in their walk rate that was beneficial to their on-base percentage and overall hitting potential.

    That cutoff of a PA/BB around 12 is a soft cutoff, not a hard cutoff, but it is important though. And that's because it's much more difficult for a young hitter to go from "bad" plate discipline to anything other than "bad" plate discipline. It's not impossible to make a jump from "bad" plate discipline to "good" plate discipline, but it's a jump that occurs far less often and is a bit of a stretch to shoot for as a goal.

    For many good, young hitters it's not as difficult to go from "pretty good" plate discipline to "good" plate discipline. It doesn't happen all the time, but it's a somewhat common trend I've noticed with good, young hitters. In fact, many good or great major league hitters who walk around 75 times each season followed a similar path. They weren't walking at a rate of a Barry Bonds or Kevin Youkilis as a young hitter, but they had a pretty good understanding of the strike zone. Once they reached the majors, gained more major league reps, and continued developing as a hitter, their plate discipline improved from "pretty good" to "good" in a few seasons.

    Rodriguez, for example, had a minor league PA/BB rate around 11.25. In his first three seasons in the majors at ages 20-22, his PA/BB rate was 14.25, a common drop for a young hitter new to the majors, especially at Rodriguez's age. At age 23, that PA/BB rate improved to 10.21. And at age 24, it was 6.72. Now a typical season PA/BB for Rodriguez is around 7-8. Rodriguez was a good, young hitter who had a pretty good idea of the strike zone as a young hitter. He didn't excel with his walk rate, but he wasn't free-swinging either. When he reached the majors and gained some major league reps, his plate discipline ability in terms of taking walks went from "pretty good" to "good" after about 2,000 major league plate appearances.

    A guy like Jay Bruce, IMO, is a pretty good bet to follow a similar path regarding his walk rate. He's a great young hitting prospect, he's excelling at a high level relative to his age in every other hitting aspect, he's developing as we speak, and he already has a pretty good understanding of the strike zone and some pretty good plate discipline. He's the type of hitting prospect who wouldn't surprise me if he's walking 75 times per season by the time he's 26-years-old.

    BTW, here's an aging patterns chart by components courtesy of Tangotiger. Pay attention to the $BB column from ages 21-26 and beyond, and you'll notice there's a significant increase ...

    http://www.tangotiger.net/agepatterns.txt
    Code:
    Age	 PA1,,,, 	 $BB, 	 $K,, 	 $HR, 	 $H,, 	 $XBH 	 $T,, 	 $SB, 	 $LW,, 
     21 	 76,865, 	 0.66 	 1.32 	 0.68 	 1.00 	 0.93 	 1.00 	 0.87 	 0.890 
     22 	 175,651 	 0.70 	 1.24 	 0.78 	 0.98 	 0.94 	 0.94 	 0.99 	 0.914 
     23 	 310,970 	 0.76 	 1.14 	 0.88 	 0.99 	 0.97 	 0.93 	 0.92 	 0.963 
     24 	 453,555 	 0.80 	 1.08 	 0.91 	 0.98 	 0.98 	 0.85 	 1.00 	 0.980 
     25 	 583,518 	 0.83 	 1.05 	 0.95 	 0.97 	 1.00 	 0.79 	 0.96 	 0.991 
     26 	 667,077 	 0.86 	 1.03 	 0.98 	 0.96 	 1.00 	 0.76 	 0.92 	 1.000 
     27 	 698,654 	 0.88 	 1.01 	 1.00 	 0.95 	 1.00 	 0.69 	 0.88 	 0.999 
     28 	 672,429 	 0.90 	 1.00 	 0.99 	 0.93 	 1.00 	 0.67 	 0.84 	 0.986 
     29 	 624,283 	 0.92 	 1.00 	 0.98 	 0.91 	 0.99 	 0.62 	 0.80 	 0.975 
     30 	 567,730 	 0.94 	 1.01 	 0.96 	 0.89 	 0.98 	 0.58 	 0.75 	 0.953 
     31 	 481,548 	 0.96 	 1.02 	 0.95 	 0.88 	 0.97 	 0.54 	 0.66 	 0.945 
     32 	 392,880 	 0.97 	 1.03 	 0.92 	 0.86 	 0.94 	 0.51 	 0.63 	 0.924 
     33 	 321,931 	 0.97 	 1.05 	 0.87 	 0.84 	 0.93 	 0.49 	 0.58 	 0.896 
     34 	 240,763 	 0.98 	 1.06 	 0.86 	 0.82 	 0.89 	 0.45 	 0.52 	 0.874 
     35 	 170,445 	 0.97 	 1.11 	 0.80 	 0.80 	 0.88 	 0.42 	 0.47 	 0.842 
     36 	 114,739 	 0.98 	 1.13 	 0.76 	 0.77 	 0.88 	 0.39 	 0.45 	 0.815 
     37 	 73,584, 	 1.00 	 1.14 	 0.71 	 0.75 	 0.87 	 0.35 	 0.38 	 0.789
    Last edited by Cyclone792; 05-02-2007 at 02:03 AM.
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  5. #19
    Ya can't teach speed... Triples's Avatar
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    Re: To Push or Not to Push..That is the question

    Nice explanation, thanks. If I may, (and I'm not be arguementative, but just trying to get smarter) does this methodology take into account whether the player is a power threat rather than a gap hitter? It seems that a guy with less power is going to be pitched somewhat less carefully; and therefore walked less frequently, than a guy like A-Rod or Jay Bruce (at their respective levels). There a lot of MLB players that walk a lot that don't hit 40 HRs in a year. In the methodology you're explaining is that considered or is it moot. Thanks in advance for your explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone792 View Post
    Couple of reasons it's important for me ...

    First, the average MLB hitter has a PA/BB ratio of around 11-12 each season so if a prospect can carry that same ratio, then he's drawing a walk at a rate equal to that of an average major league hitter. For a prospect such as Jay Bruce, it's actually somewhat impressive. Bruce is quite young for the FSL at a mere 20 years and 1 month, and he's also simultaneously tearing the league up in every other aspect of hitting. He's maintaining a walk rate on par of an average MLB hitter while crushing the ball in a league where he's also one of the youngest players.

    Second, good, young hitting prospects who can maintain a PA/BB rate of under 12 early in their careers - both throughout the minors and their early MLB careers - can join what I call the Alex Rodriguez Club. Rodriguez isn't the only member of this outstanding club, but he's probably the most recognized member. Miguel Cabrera looks like he may become another member, at least based on the returns of his 2006 season. This club is full of good, young hitters who maintained that acceptable walk rate hovering around 12 plate appearances per walk, but early in their major league careers saw a surge in their walk rate that was beneficial to their on-base percentage and overall hitting potential.

    That cutoff of a PA/BB around 12 is a soft cutoff, not a hard cutoff, but it is important though. And that's because it's much more difficult for a young hitter to go from "bad" plate discipline to anything other than "bad" plate discipline. It's not impossible to make a jump from "bad" plate discipline to "good" plate discipline, but it's a jump that occurs far less often and is a bit of a stretch to shoot for as a goal.

    For many good, young hitters it's not as difficult to go from "pretty good" plate discipline to "good" plate discipline. It doesn't happen all the time, but it's a somewhat common trend I've noticed with good, young hitters. In fact, many good or great major league hitters who walk around 75 times each season followed a similar path. They weren't walking at a rate of a Barry Bonds or Kevin Youkilis as a young hitter, but they had a pretty good understanding of the strike zone. Once they reached the majors, gained more major league reps, and continued developing as a hitter, their plate discipline improved from "pretty good" to "good" in a few seasons.

    Rodriguez, for example, had a minor league PA/BB rate around 11.25. In his first three seasons in the majors at ages 20-22, his PA/BB rate was 14.25, a common drop for a young hitter new to the majors, especially at Rodriguez's age. At age 23, that PA/BB rate improved to 10.21. And at age 24, it was 6.72. Now a typical season PA/BB for Rodriguez is around 7-8. Rodriguez was a good, young hitter who had a pretty good idea of the strike zone as a young hitter. He didn't excel with his walk rate, but he wasn't free-swinging either. When he reached the majors and gained some major league reps, his plate discipline ability in terms of taking walks went from "pretty good" to "good" after about 2,000 major league plate appearances.

    A guy like Jay Bruce, IMO, is a pretty good bet to follow a similar path regarding his walk rate. He's a great young hitting prospect, he's excelling at a high level relative to his age in every other hitting aspect, he's developing as we speak, and he already has a pretty good understanding of the strike zone and some pretty good plate discipline. He's the type of hitting prospect who wouldn't surprise me if he's walking 75 times per season by the time he's 26-years-old.

    BTW, here's an aging patterns chart by components courtesy of Tangotiger. Pay attention to the $BB column from ages 21-26 and beyond, and you'll notice there's a significant increase ...

    http://www.tangotiger.net/agepatterns.txt
    Code:
    Age	 PA1,,,, 	 $BB, 	 $K,, 	 $HR, 	 $H,, 	 $XBH 	 $T,, 	 $SB, 	 $LW,, 
     21 	 76,865, 	 0.66 	 1.32 	 0.68 	 1.00 	 0.93 	 1.00 	 0.87 	 0.890 
     22 	 175,651 	 0.70 	 1.24 	 0.78 	 0.98 	 0.94 	 0.94 	 0.99 	 0.914 
     23 	 310,970 	 0.76 	 1.14 	 0.88 	 0.99 	 0.97 	 0.93 	 0.92 	 0.963 
     24 	 453,555 	 0.80 	 1.08 	 0.91 	 0.98 	 0.98 	 0.85 	 1.00 	 0.980 
     25 	 583,518 	 0.83 	 1.05 	 0.95 	 0.97 	 1.00 	 0.79 	 0.96 	 0.991 
     26 	 667,077 	 0.86 	 1.03 	 0.98 	 0.96 	 1.00 	 0.76 	 0.92 	 1.000 
     27 	 698,654 	 0.88 	 1.01 	 1.00 	 0.95 	 1.00 	 0.69 	 0.88 	 0.999 
     28 	 672,429 	 0.90 	 1.00 	 0.99 	 0.93 	 1.00 	 0.67 	 0.84 	 0.986 
     29 	 624,283 	 0.92 	 1.00 	 0.98 	 0.91 	 0.99 	 0.62 	 0.80 	 0.975 
     30 	 567,730 	 0.94 	 1.01 	 0.96 	 0.89 	 0.98 	 0.58 	 0.75 	 0.953 
     31 	 481,548 	 0.96 	 1.02 	 0.95 	 0.88 	 0.97 	 0.54 	 0.66 	 0.945 
     32 	 392,880 	 0.97 	 1.03 	 0.92 	 0.86 	 0.94 	 0.51 	 0.63 	 0.924 
     33 	 321,931 	 0.97 	 1.05 	 0.87 	 0.84 	 0.93 	 0.49 	 0.58 	 0.896 
     34 	 240,763 	 0.98 	 1.06 	 0.86 	 0.82 	 0.89 	 0.45 	 0.52 	 0.874 
     35 	 170,445 	 0.97 	 1.11 	 0.80 	 0.80 	 0.88 	 0.42 	 0.47 	 0.842 
     36 	 114,739 	 0.98 	 1.13 	 0.76 	 0.77 	 0.88 	 0.39 	 0.45 	 0.815 
     37 	 73,584, 	 1.00 	 1.14 	 0.71 	 0.75 	 0.87 	 0.35 	 0.38 	 0.789
    Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal. ~George Will


  6. #20
    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Re: To Push or Not to Push..That is the question

    Quote Originally Posted by Triples View Post
    Nice explanation, thanks. If I may, (and I'm not be arguementative, but just trying to get smarter) does this methodology take into account whether the player is a power threat rather than a gap hitter? It seems that a guy with less power is going to be pitched somewhat less carefully; and therefore walked less frequently, than a guy like A-Rod or Jay Bruce (at their respective levels). There a lot of MLB players that walk a lot that don't hit 40 HRs in a year. In the methodology you're explaining is that considered or is it moot. Thanks in advance for your explanation
    Certainly being pitched differently due to a power threat could be a driver for some of the hitters. It may not be the primary driver for more walks for some hitters, but it probably accounts for some of those walks. Sammy Sosa is an example of a hitter where the power threat became real, and soon after pitchers became far more careful with him than they once were.

    OTOH, my observations make me tend to believe that the bulk of these hitters just become more disciplined as they age into their prime years and that's the primary driver for an increase in walk rate. They certainly may be aided by being pitched more carefully, but they still have to acquire enough discipline to lay off a bad pitch they can't handle. As they develop into their prime years and continue to get more reps, they'll acquire a better understanding of their individual zone and learn how to better recognize pitches that won't end up in their zone. As a result, they'll work the count better, see more pitches, and see that increase in walk rate.

    Both the Alex Rodriguez of 1997 and the Alex Rodriguez of 2007 would crush a pitch right in the middle of their zone. The difference is the Alex Rodriguez of 2007 is more likely to lay off a bad pitch that's a few inches outside his zone whereas the 1997 Alex Rodriguez would be more likely to chase that pitch and make a weak out.

    Felipe Lopez is a great example of a guy who wasn't a power threat, but who still became more disciplined as he aged into his prime years. For his minor league career, Lopez had a PA/BB ratio of 11.88. It wasn't necessarily that great walk rate we love, but it was good enough to show that he had a fairly good idea of the strike zone. During his first four part-time major league seasons from 2001-2004 (ages 21-24), Lopez had a PA/BB ratio of 11.65. Again, not great, but still pretty good for a young hitter his age. In 2005 at the age of 25, his PA/BB ratio had a marginal improvement to 11.37.

    But look what happened last season in 2006 when Lopez was 26-years-old. His power, both home runs and doubles, dropped off from their 2005 levels, and once he was traded his home ball park went from a hitter's paradise to a pitcher's paradise. But Lopez helped offset some of that drop in power by adding more walks to his offensive game and his PA/BB ratio surged to 8.81. He's struggled a bit with his walk rate in 2007, but it's still early and it wouldn't surprise me if he finished the season with well over 60 walks again.
    Barry Larkin - HOF, 2012

    Put an end to the Lost Decade.


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