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Entries in Ike Davis (2)


2011's Best Bad-Ball Hitters

We praise hitters who lay off pitches thrown out of the strike zone, and for good reason: hacking at out-of-zone offerings leads to pitcher's counts and easy outs. Batters have a collective .194 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) when swinging at pitches thrown out of the zone, compared to .335 when taking a cut at in-zone pitches.

But, as anyone who has ever seen Vladimir Guerrero gulf a curveball at his shoetops over the fence or drive an eye-high fastball into the gap knows, some hitters can do damage on junk pitches. Here's a list of the top 10 bad ball hitters of 2011, sorted by wOBA on pitches swung at out of the strike zone:

  1. Victor Martinez, .383 wOBA
  2. Travis Hafner, .375 wOBA
  3. Casey Kotchman, .374 wOBA
  4. J.J. Hardy, .366 wOBA
  5. Ike Davis, .355 wOBA
  6. Juan Miranda, .348 wOBA
  7. Jamey Carroll, .342 wOBA
  8. Jose Bautista, .338 wOBA
  9. Albert Pujols, .334 wOBA
  10. Matt Holliday, .317 wOBA

Given the small sample sizes involved here and the overwhelmingly lousy performance of most hitters when swinging at off-the-plate pitches, this is more of a fun list than one with predictive value. That said, check out V-Mart's in-play slugging percentage on pitches thrown out of the zone (left), compared to the league average (right):

   For those wondering, Vlad has a .225 wOBA when swinging at out-of-zone pitches. He's still hacking, but no longer impaling.  


"Old Player Skills"

Matt Klaassen over at recently looked at which players under the age of 27 in 2010 displayed "old player skills"; that is, players who tend to have high walk and power numbers, with low speed and batting average. Any player in the top 25% of walk rate, a speed score in the bottom 25 percent, ISO in the top half, and batting average in the lowest half made the cut. He found only three players in 2010: Prince Fielder, Brian McCann, and Ike Davis.

The first name that popped into my head when reading the article was Geovany Soto. Given that he turned 27 last year, he missed Klaassen’s cut for the study. However, his walk rate (16.0%), Speed Score (1.1), and ISO (.217) all put him in range of that "old player skill" category. His .280 batting average was a touch high, but not enough to totally disqualify him from consideration.

All three of Klaassen’s 2010 old skill players (and Soto) had below league average contact ratings last year as well. I’m not sure a low contact percentage fits the mold for "old player skills." However, older hitters, specifically power hitters, do tend to lose some quickness in their swing; this can certainly lead to more missed balls. And there is some evidence that players with power swings that hit for low average (like Adam Dunn) tend to have lower contact percentages.