Mark Simon at ESPN's SweetSpot Blog popped the hood on Ichiro's down 2011 season, pointing out that the longtime hitting Jedi didn't get as many hits as usual on pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. Ichiro has been one of the game's better batters on out-of-zone pitches, posting a .262 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) when he has gone fishing over the past three years (the league average wOBA when swinging at pitches off the plate is .191).
Ichiro didn't crack the top 10, however. Who did? Here's a look at baseball's best strike zone fishermen:
Highest wOBA when swinging at out-of-zone pitches, 2009-11
San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval has a full twenty point lead on Troy Tulowitzki for the top spot, and he doesn't get a Rocky Mountain boost like Tulo. Panda has popped a major league-best 24 home runs on outside pitches since '09, besting Miguel Cabrera by four. Check out Sandoval's in-play slugging percentage by pitch location on outside pitches, compared to the league average. He's primarily a high-pitch hacker:
So, who are the game's worst strike zone fisherman? Here are the batters with the lowest wOBA from 2009-11 when chasing pitches off the plate:
Uribe, Inge and Gonzalez have been among the worst overall hitters in the majors, but you might be surprised to find Andrew McCutchen and Nick Swisher on this list. Happily, neither 'Cutch nor Swish goes fishing often: both are in the bottom ten in the majors in chase percentage over the past three seasons.