Stephen Strasburg: Awesome at the Plate, Too
Stephen Strasburg is an awesome pitcher. Considering that Strasburg leads all qualified starting pitchers in K/9 (11.6) and ranks ninth in ERA+ (144), that statement won't come as breaking news unless you crash-landed on the LOST island and just made your way back to civilization. But did you know he has been a threat at the plate too?
As if his mid-90s heat and knee-buckling curve weren't enough to beat opponents into submission, Strasburg is raking in 2012. He's batting .323, getting on base at a .400 clip and slugging .548 in 37 plate appearances. It's a tiny sample, of course, and Strasburg's prior history with the bat isn't promising (he hit .038 with nary a walk or extra-base hit in 30 PA from 2010-11). But he's showing a shockingly disciplined approach at the dish this season.
Check out Strasburg's swing rate in 2010-11, and then 2012:
In 2010-11, Strasburg did what most pitchers do: he let a lot of strikes go by (55 percent in-zone swing rate, 63 percent MLB average) and swung at a lot of crappy pitches out of the strike zone (38 percent chase rate, 29 percent MLB average). This year, though? Strasburg has swung at 72 percent of in-zone pitches. His chase rate is 12 percent, which is actually tied with George Kottaras for lowest in the majors among those with at least 30 plate appearances.
That's a whole different level of hitting mockery, isn't it? No longer content to just make batters flail while on the mound, Strasburg is taking and raking at the plate. It's like he's peering at the opposing position players and saying, "You call THIS hard? [BAM]" Maybe he is a cyborg after all.