FanPost

Abraham Almonte is (almost) getting on base!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Fanpost and none of my previous entries have involved looking closely into players stats. Something compelled me to give it a shot however. Abraham Almonte is rapidly falling out of favor with the fanbase but I still find myself intrigued.

Given what Almonte showed last season, Lloyd McClendon decided right out of the gate to make him a leadoff hitter and his starting center fielder. We’ve seen during Spring Training and during the early part of the season that when Almonte gets on base he becomes an adventure for better or for worse. When it’s for the better, he’s extremely fun to watch.

So about that "on-base" thing, as of April 28th:

  • Abraham Almonte: .204/.250/.306; 4.8 BB%, 34.6 K%

Spring Training Almonte was like seeing previews of an interesting new show. Early season Almonte is like sampling the new show and enjoying it. Current Almonte is like suddenly seeing advertisements begging people to buy it on Pay-Per-View. Eventually, people get sick of seeing advertisements. And right now, people are starting to get sick of Almonte.

And certainly the current backlash makes sense. Right now, Abraham Almonte is a 9-hole hitter batting leadoff. There have even been a few calls to send Almonte back to AAA all together (Condor for Center Field!). At any rate, it’s safe to say that the Almonte experiment has failed…..or has it?

For me, while watching the games, I’ve noticed that while the results of Abraham Almonte have been annoying his approach hasn’t really bugged me. When we watch hitters like Brad Miller and Dustin Ackley struggle they appear to be lost at the plate. I don’t really see that with Almonte. It seems to me that he does have a game plan at the plate but he can’t quite execute. With that, I decided to look up a few things on Baseball Reference. Just what is Abraham Almonte doing at the plate this season?

  • Almonte’s pitches seen per Plate Appearance: 4.02
  • League Average: 3.89
  • Team Average: 3.80

Almonte’s Pit/PA ranks 3rd on the team behind Smoak and Seager and is right where Corey Hart is. After getting called up last season, Almonte saw an average of 3.82 pitches per plate appearance. He’s got the right idea. This isn’t Yuniesky Betancourt we’re dealing with here (Career 3.24 Pit/PA).

It’s nice but it doesn’t tell us much by itself so I decided to look deeper into what’s happening during Almonte’s at-bats.

I saw something that reinforced what I was seeing at the plate. Abraham Almonte has been seeing more 3-2 counts during his ABs than any other count. He has seen this 20 times. Behind that, he’s seen 18 "2-2 counts." Further glancing over these numbers, he appears to be spending more time battling back from falling behind counts than he is getting ahead of counts.

And thus we arrive at Almonte’s biggest problem during at-bats:

  • Result of his 20 "3-2 counts": 4 singles, 0 walks, 11 strikeouts (.200 OBP; .400 OPS)
  • Result of his 18 "2-2 counts": 0 hits, 14 strikeouts

Aww…Yikes.

There was a game where he worked three straight full counts but the end results were 2 strikeouts and a single. Right when Abraham Almonte gets himself in a good position to succeed, he’s getting owned. In addition, he appears to be especially boned when working with two strikes in general. He has yet to draw a walk this season with two strikes. Even worse, the only hits he has with two strikes are the four singles from the 3-2 counts.

What about the walks Almonte has drawn? Abe has 5 walks on the season. All of them have come when he’s ahead in the count. One walk on 3-0, and four on 3-1.

Last season was a bit more encouraging.

  • Result of his 11 "3-2 counts": 1 single, 1 double, 4 walks, 1 strikeout (.545 OBP; 1.045 OPS)
  • Result of his 14 "2-2 counts": 2 homeruns, 6 strikeouts

Almonte drew 6 walks last season but four of those came on full counts. Furthermore, he only struck out once when the count was full.

So far, Almonte’s main source of success this season is putting the first pitch he sees in play. He’s done that in 16 PA.

  • Result of 16 of his first pitches put into play: 7 hits (4 singles, 2 doubles, 1 triple; 1.125 OPS)

This is far from definitive analysis of Abraham Almonte’s plate approach and I’m not even sure if this is the correct way to analyze it. Really, I just wanted to put into words why Abraham Almonte still interests me. His issues seem to be fixable and it appears as though he’s continuing to work at it. And, of course, finally getting some time off can’t hurt either (not sure why that took so long):

Like McClendon, Almonte expects he will snap out his funk.

"What I feel right now, it’s one of those tough times I have to fight through in the season," Almonte said. "If I stay patient, I think I can do a good approach. I’ve been doing that before."

You can do it, Abe! I think he can get back to being the player we enjoyed in the early going. When he does, it will be glorious!

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