A week ago, I published this look at Adrian Beltre's plate approach tendencies through the first parts of the season, separated into three roughly equal groups of mid 30 plate appearances. The conclusion of that post was summarized thusly:
As a proxy method of testing my theory [that Beltre was pressing], I surmised that Beltre likely did not start off the season [that way], or that at least, he would have [began pressing] more as the season wore on. I decided to look at two numbers that I thought would indicate that. First, the standby P/PA. The second number was how often Beltre swung at the first pitch of the at bat. I originally split the season into halves, and it showed the same pattern as below, but I decided to split the season into thirds to better show the trend and it jumps out at me so much I am putting the whole thing in bold and large type.
First 33 PAs: 3.48 P/PA, 18% swinging at first pitch.
Next 37 PAs: 3.22 P/PA, 35%
Next 31 PAs: 2.94 P/PA, 45%
This. This is what pressing looks like.
Adrian Beltre has had 35 PAs since that article was written. He's hit .303/.314/.455 in those eight games including his first home run of the season. Looking at the numbers presented in the linked article, here is an update on Beltre's fourth quartile of the season.
57.3% of pitches offered at (a big increase over first 101 PAs)
74.6% contact rate (a big decrease over first 101 PAs)
3.54 P/PA (highest of the season)
26% of first pitches swung at.
Beltre is doing better at taking the first pitch of the at bat, back closer to the level that he began the season at and right back to the level (28%) that he held for the 2008 season. The only downside is that he's still swinging at a lot more pitches than usual and his pitches seen per plate appearance rose mostly because he made contact less frequently when he did swing.
Still, since I did run numbers on how many strikes he has seen*, I do believe this is good news for the most part. Beltre is starting to extend his at bats and is getting closer to his 2008 rates.
Maybe somebody is listening.
*Perhaps pitchers, seeing his ineptitude so far at the plate, have started being more aggressive in the zone with Beltre, justifying his higher swing rate.