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