May 7, 2008

Stat of the Day: Outside Swing Percentage

Fan Graphs tracks a new stat called Outside Swing Percentage, which is defined as "the percentage of pitches a batter swings at that are outside the strike zone." So far this year Vladimir Guerrero has the league's highest Outside Swing Percentage at 43.8 and Jason Giambi has the lowest at 9.2, while the MLB average over the past three seasons has been 22.9. Here's how the Twins' hitters stack up when it comes to swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.

Carlos Gomez 38.3
Delmon Young 36.2
Michael Cuddyer 30.4
Craig Monroe 29.9
Mike Lamb 27.0
Brendan Harris 25.1
Justin Morneau 24.2
Jason Kubel 21.4
Matt Tolbert 20.0
Joe Mauer 16.9
Nick Punto 16.2

Just four of the 11 hitters who've come to the plate at least 40 times for the Twins this year have swung at a lower percentage of pitches outside the strike zone than the MLB average. Among all American League hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, only Guerrero (43.8) and A.J. Pierzynski (38.4) have a higher Outside Swing Percentage than Carlos Gomez (38.3) and Delmon Young (36.2).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, among batting-title qualifiers Joe Mauer (16.9) is the lone Twins hitter with an Outside Swing Percentage under 20.0. Meanwhile, the AL's other 13 teams boast a total of 33 such hitters for an average of 2.5 per team. Talk of "plate discipline" often refers to drawing walks and the Twins have fewer free passes than any team in baseball by a wide margin, but Outside Swing Percentage breaks that down even further and shows an incredibly impatient, undisciplined offense.

Oh, and the Outside Swing Percentage numbers shown above are from before the team's non-Mauer hitters went 0-for-26 with one walk against Gavin Floyd and the White Sox last night. After watching Mauer narrowly save the Twins from being no-hit by Floyd, acting manager Scott Ullger summed up an offense that ranks second-to-last in runs: "I thought the umpire might have had a tight strike zone and we just didn't allow him to walk us."

Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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