Friday, September 3, 2010

Comparing Swing-Happy Swing Zones

In the past few years, the batters who have been among the league leaders in Swing% (percentage of pitches swung at) are the same names every year. Since 2008, Vladimir Guerrero has led baseball in Swing% by swinging at 60.4% of all pitches. Delmon Young is second with 60% while Jeff Francoeur is third with 57.90%.

Let's take a look at the 50% swing zones of each of these hitters by pitch type. First up, fastballs:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_hZYdwHvvD9U/TIEoSRWV7gI/AAAAAAAAAjE/nAd7hgvG5ic/s1600/swingzones1.png

Vlad swings at more low RHP fastballs than the other two, but Francoeur takes high LHP fastballs, even swinging at fastballs 1.5 feet above the strike zone 50% of the time. Here's sliders:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hZYdwHvvD9U/TIEoSz1ir-I/AAAAAAAAAjM/vleY1Jbw0kQ/s1600/swingzones2.png

Vlad takes a hack at a lot of sliders in the dirt from both handed pitchers, and look at Francoeur again. He also really likes to take a chance at those high sliders too. Let's look at curveballs:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hZYdwHvvD9U/TIEoTCKtawI/AAAAAAAAAjU/KhndLEy8fqc/s1600/swingzones3.png

For once, Francoeur doesn't look as vulnerable against curveballs (relatively speaking) compared to Delmon Young and Vlad. All three hitters are righthanders, so you can see the same weakness against LHP curveballs coming low and inside. Finally, here's a look at changeups:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_hZYdwHvvD9U/TIEoTRdi3aI/AAAAAAAAAjc/m_CBGh7Xw68/s1600/swingzones4.png

All three hitters don't generally swing at inside changeups from LHP, but Francoeur again likes those high changeups. The RHP plot is particularly interesting, as Delmon Young's swing zone goes up and inside, Francouer's swing zone reaches directly up almost two feet above the strikezone, and Vlad swings at a lot of outside changeups from RHP.

Although Vlad swings at the most pitches, both pitches in the strikezone and outside the strikezone, many of Francouer's 50% swing zones are larger than Vlad's. This means Francouer's outside-the-strikezone swings are more widely distributed than Vlad's. For a professional baseball player who thinks high on-base percentages equates passivity, I don't expect Francoeur's habits to change. I mean, he is the guy who was once quoted as saying, "If on-base percentage is so important, then why don't they put it up on the scoreboard?"

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