Wedge's aggressiveness hurting the team?

I had originally planned to write a "letter" to Wedge regarding his mantra of being aggressive, but with Thirteenoftwo's article regarding LD% & BABIP, I figured I'd perhaps expand on that a bit instead.

Just in thinking about it, I don't see why batters don't take the Ted Williams approach and figure out what areas of the strike zone you're good at and swing at those versus not swinging at other areas unless you have to.

If Wedge's philosophy is to swing at everything in the zone, you'd expect a higher swing rate, and perhaps a lower BA, lower BABIP and lower ISO if pitchers were keying in on this and throwing in zones that they know the batter is bad at.

I'll try my best to interpret data, but (a) it's small sample size, and (b) I'm not as able to analyze these as others so my conclusions may be wrong. And to prevent super-small sample size, I'm only focusing on our young regulars.

*Numbers are 2011 vs. 2012 in ()'s

Dustin Ackley

O-Swing/Z-Swing/Swing (23.9/52.7/38.9 vs. 29.7/57.1/43.9)

O-Contact/Z-Contact/Contact (72.9/88.8/84.1 vs. 77.1/94.4/88.8)

BABIP/ISO (0.339/0.144 vs. 0.294/0.091)

BB%/K% (10.6/21.0 vs.5.7/20.0)

Ackley percentage-wise has been hacking a lot more at the plate, swinging at more pitches both inside and outside the zone. But while his contact rates have gone up, it has so far resulted in a lower BABIP, a lower ISO and perhaps even more concerning a lower BB rate. Ackley was supposed to have a good batting eye, and while certainly identifying pitches in the zone is a good thing, perhaps the aggressive approach has taken away one of the tools that Ackley was said to have.

Kyle Seager

O-Swing/Z-Swing/Swing (29.8/65.5/48.4 vs. 33.3/72.9/53.1)

O-Contact/Z-Contact/Contact (67.6/91.6/84.5 vs. 71.9/98.6/90.2)

BABIP/ISO (0.303/0.121 vs. 0.277/0.145)

BB%/K% (6.5/17.9 vs.1.8/12.5)

Seager was already suffering from a low BB rate, but that has gone from small to microscopic. Swing and contract rates are up across the board, and I'm shocked to see how much contact he does make, especially on pitches in the zone (98.6%!). And he seems to be the only one who has seen an uptick on his ISO.

Jesus Montero

O-Swing/Z-Swing/Swing (31.0/56.6/42.8 vs. 34.1/64.1/49.2)

O-Contact/Z-Contact/Contact (61.4/81.2/73.5 vs. 58.1/88.1/77.8)

BABIP/ISO (0.400/0.262 vs. 0.256/0.130)

BB%/K% (10.1/24.6 vs.3.4/19.0)

Montero is really SSS because of his partial season last year. But the trend in numbers are about the same with the exception of the O-Contact rate - higher swing and contact rates, significantly lower ISO (though that was somewhat expected) and lower BB rate.

Justin Smoak

O-Swing/Z-Swing/Swing (26.5/65.1/44.5 vs. 23.8/59.0/40.8)

O-Contact/Z-Contact/Contact (57.5/83.7/75.4 vs. 41.7/83.9/71.3)

BABIP/ISO (0.273/0.162 vs. 0.250/0.119)

BB%/K% (11.2/21.5 vs.4.8/27.4)

Smoak has actually seen his numbers go the opposite direction - lower swing rates across the board and a worse contact rate of pitches outside the zone. The BABIP difference isn't as pronounced as the other two, but the ISO drop is still there as well as the drop in BB rate. Even more concerning is that his K rate has gone up significantly.

It's still early, but I wonder if the batters need to be more patient on pitches in the zone. Sure, you don't want to be behind in the count all the time and cornered to swing at anything close. But you also don't want to be swinging at pitches that statistics show you've had low success at converting into hits. If the pitcher happens to be on and hitting the spots the batter is cold at in the zone, you tip your cap. But you should also be able to focus on punishing the balls in your wheelhouse.

At some point focusing on the quantity of balls you hit in the zone becomes not as important as the quality of the balls in the zone. Furthermore, getting a walk shouldn't be something that our young players become to abhor in their prime years.

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