An unusual suggestion to improve Travis d’Arnaud’s bottom line

And while d’Arnaud didn’t swing more frequently at balls outside of the zone, he made contact with those pitches much more often. Instead of making contact on 58 percent of pitches out of the zone, he made contact with 76 percent of those pitches.

It may be crazy to think that you’d want a player to swing and miss more often, but that’s exactly what I think hurt d’Arnaud last year from a statistical perspective. Making contact on balls out of the zone can be great if you’re a scrappy squib-hitter with speed or a bat-control freak of nature like Pablo Sandoval or Vladimir Guerrero. That isn’t d’Arnaud’s game; he’s a guy with doubles-power who needs to wait for a pitch to drive and belt it. Instead, d’Arnaud’s ground ball rate shot up, and as we’ve learned over the past few years, the best way to be a good hitter is to put the ball in the air. In addition to his ground ball rate rising from 37 percent in 2015 to 52 percent in 2016, he also “barreled” only seven balls this last season (per Statcast’s metric designed to identify the best possible contact) compared to 12 barrels in 2015.

From a numbers standpoint, it would certainly behoove TdA to swing at fewer pitches outside the zone if he’s going to make poor contact like he did this past season.

Source: Bryan Grosnick, BP Mets

9 comments for “An unusual suggestion to improve Travis d’Arnaud’s bottom line

  1. Eraff
    February 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Is there a stat that indicates how often he made an out by swinging at pitches “out of the zone”. The stat you’ve provided might indicate that he was undisciplined, but also very defensive…. a 200 point drop in OPS can’t be explained by “making too much contact”.

    Injury….Confusion…Mechanics… my guesses.

    • February 23, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      Sure it can. If you go from hitting doubles in the gap on pitches in the strike zone to rolling over weak grounders to second base on pitches out of the zone.

      Not to say that the other three you mentioned can’t factor in as well.

    • February 24, 2017 at 10:42 am

      There is, check Fangraphs’ plate discipline tab for TDA’s page.

      It’s baseball; there’s a stat for everything!

      • Jimmy P
        February 24, 2017 at 11:09 am

        The problem for me is the horse and cart issue.

        Imagine a player with an injured shoulder.

        Howard Johnson in 1992, when he went from 38 HRs to 7 (in 100 games). When his SLG went from .535 to .337. Do we micro-analyze his ABs? Draw conclusions about how he handles the change-up? Or do we say, damn, it’s hard to hit without healthy shoulders?

        Or let’s say, Wuilmer Buccera. While he DH’d many games last year, his documented shoulder injury kept him off the field except for 12 games.

        Now ignore that fact.

        And instead just stare at charts and numbers and endless data.

        You’d immediately fret over that .393 SLG in 2016. Only one homer! Why goodness, he slugged .469 in 2014. He hit 9 bombs just last year. Then you start talking about how he’s not driving the curveball or turning on the fastball or some other nonsense. Because it’s a result, not a cause. If you ignore the injury, then you miss everything; you get it totally wrong. You start whipping the cart and screaming, “Go, go!” Meanwhile, the horse, off to the side, looks at you and wonders what the hell.

        I think that’s the deal here with Travis d’Arnaud and his shoulder. I don’t think he was himself, and he got all screwed up compensating for the injury. Lost his confidence, became a complete mess.

        There’s real talent there, there’s lightning in those wrists, I just hope his body comes all the way back and his mind follows.

  2. Jimmy P
    February 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    He had an injured shoulder.

  3. Eraff
    February 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Yeah…we’re ready for Games to start

    • Chris F
      February 23, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      ^ +1

  4. Metsense
    February 24, 2017 at 7:14 am

    TDA had an awful offensive year in 2016. He had shown potential in late 2015 to be an offensive force. TDA bats 8th usually. Pitchers won’t give him anything good to hit because he will get himself out instead of walking. He needs to be patient or maybe TC needs not to bat him eighth and put a more disciplined hitter in the eighth spot for the betterment of the team. It is difficult to give a reward to a player for poor work but maybe under these circumstances it should be tried for awhile.

    • Jimmy P
      February 24, 2017 at 10:52 am

      He is not by nature that kind of hitter, Travis has always been more of a grip-it-and-rip-it kind of guy. I always believed that part of his early struggles with the Mets came from Dave Hudgens’ organizational focus on pouring every hitter into the same mold. Early on in SA’s tenure, they were religious about it. Look, look, look. Take and rake. Be selective. Hunting strikes. Whatever you want to call it.

      He’s not suited to the 8-spot — I think it works against him — but as you said, in 2016 he really didn’t do anything to earn a better slot.

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