Very Veryyy Early Interesting MLB Hitting Statistics Dump

Two Tigers outfielders, Tori Hunter and Austin Jackson lead the MLB with 24 hits each.

Braves OF, Justin Upton leads the MLB with 8 home runs. He didn’t hit his first home run of the season in 2012, until April 23.  It took him 365 plate appearances and until July 20, to hit his eighth home run in 2012.  He currently sits at 57 PA for the 2013 season.

Mets catcher, John Buck is doing his best to try to keep prospect Travis d’Arnaud in the minors.  Buck is tied for MLB lead with 19 runs batted in.  He had 18 RBI last season through June 26.  So in terms of batting runners home he is about 41 games ahead of his 2012 pace in Miami.  Buck also already has 6 home runs, a plateau he did not reach until June 24 last season.

Reds 1B, Joey Votto has walked in 1/3 of his 63 plate appearances in 2013.  Votto did not qualify for the batting title in 2012 due to injuries, but among players with at least 450 PA in 2012 Joey Votto led the MLB with a 19.3 percent walk rate.

Starlin Castro has had 58 plate appearances in 2013 and walked ZERO times.

Braves 3B, Chris Johnson leads the MLB with a .500 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play).  Braves OF, Jason Heyward has the second worst BABIP among qualified players sitting at .091.

Two players in the MLB currently have a .500 On-base percentage, or better.  They are Joey Voto with a .556 OBP and Lance Berkman with a .500 OBP.

The best fielder in the MLB thus far has been Matt Dominguez according to the fielding leaderboard on Fangraphs.  For what it’s worth, I will say that defensive sabermetrics are something I do not completely buy into.  However it is hard to argue against the fact that the same leader board rates Ryan Zimmerman and Shin-Soo Choo as the worst two fielders in the majors thus far in 2013.

Speaking of Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, he has been hit by seven pitches already in 2013.  No team, other than Choo’s team the Reds, has been hit more than seven times as a whole.

Royals 2B Chris Getz, has seen the highest percentage of pitches being fastballs, 76.1 percent, in the MLB.  Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez, has seen the lowest percentage of pitches being fastballs, 39.9 percent, in the MLB.

Reds 1B Joey Votto, has swung the bat on pitches outside of the zone 13 percent of the time, the lowest rate in the MLB.  Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval, has swung at 46.9 percent of pitches outside the zone, the highest rate in the MLB.  Overall Sandoval is swinging the bat at 60.6 percent of the pitches he has seen, also the highest rate in the MLB.  Mets OF Lucas Duda, beats Voto here, in terms of swinging at the least percentage of pitches seen – 29.9 percent.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons and Brewers OF Carlos Gomez each have been in a 0-1 count at the highest rate in the MLB, each seeing a first pitch strike 76.1 percent of the time.

Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez has a 19.7 percent swinging strike percentage to lead the MLB.  And maybe the statistic that sticks out to me most in this whole post is the fact that in 51 plate appearances in 2013 Marlins 3B, Placido Polanco, has a swinging strike percentage of 0.0 percent, according to Fangraphs.  This is just phenomenal bat control, and even though it really sticks out to me I am going to trust Fangraphs is right, like usual.  I mean that is just crazy to think about, he has seen 176 pitches in 2013 against some of the best pitchers on the planet and he has not swung and missed at any of those pitches.

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Source:  Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference. Stats through April 17, 2013 games.

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Phil Hughes: 2011 vs. 2012

Yankees Starting Pitcher Phil Hughes won 18 games and was selected as an All-Star in the 2010 season.  But then his 2011 season was a disappointment going 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA.  Thus far in 2012, Hughes has almost pitched as many innings as he did in all of the 2011 season.

It looked like Hughes might be heading toward another season like 2011 after struggling in his first five starts.  In those five starts he went 1-4 with a 7.48 ERA while never lasting longer than 5 2/3 innings.

But in his last seven starts, he has gone 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA while never lasting any LESS than 5 1/3 innings.  That includes a start where Hughes gave up seven earned runs to the Angels

Hughes has had his ups and downs in his first 12 starts of 2012.  He is currently quite close to his innings pitched from 2011.  So I felt now was a good time to compare the production the Yankees are getting out of him.  Hughes was a former big name prospect, fourth overall on the Baseball America Top 100 in 2007.

Hughes has already pitched 68 innings in 2012.  He did not reach 68 innings pitched in 2011 until September 6.  He finished 2011 with 74.2 innings pitched.

It was well noted during the struggles of Hughes in 2011 that his fastball had lost velocity, specifically in the early part of the season.  But according to Fangraphs, Hughes has regained the average velocity that he had in 2010.

2010:  92.5 mph     2011:  91.3 mph     2012:  92.4mph

Hughes K/9 ratio has skyrocketed from 5.67 in 2011 to 8.34 in 2012.  Also his BB/9 has decreased from 3.25 in 2011 to 2.38 in 2012.  He was worse than league average in both of those statistics in 2011, while he is better than league average in 2012.

In 2011, hitters hit for a .277 average off of Hughes while 2012 hitters are hitting .264 off of him.  The 2012 batting average allowed is still worse than league average, .248, but still it’s an improvement.  The improved walk rate and batting average allowed has resulted in a WHIP improvement of 1.49 to 1.34.

Hughes is stranding more batters on base as well.  His LOB% has dropped from 65.4% in 2011 to 74% in 2012.

One troubling statistic about Hughes in 2012 is that he has allowed a home run in every one of his 12 starts.  He is allowing 1.99 HR/9 which is third highest rate of any innings qualified pitcher as of this posting.

Hitters are making contact slightly less in 2012, 83.3%, than they did in 2011, 86.6%, off of Hughes.  In 2011 his swinging strike percentage was 6.2% and it is currently 7.6% in 2012.

Over Hughes career left handed and right handed hitters have hit for a similar average off of Hughes.  Left handed batters have hit .256 off of Hughes, while the right handed batters have hit .248 over his career.  But he has seen opposite ends of the spectrum in both 2011 and 2012.

2011:     LHB:  .312 avg     RHB:  .234 avg

2012:     LHB:  .195 avg     RHB:  .352 avg

What the leadoff hitter of each inning does usually sets the tone for the rest of that inning.  Hughes has really seen an improvement here.  Hughes has allowed as following over the past two seasons to batters leading off an inning:

2011:  .300 avg     .372 OBP     .429 SLG     .800 OPS

2012:  .212 avg     .288 OBP     .394 SLG     .682 OPS

In 2012 Hughes has yet to allow a stolen base as well.  He allowed six in 2011.

Overall outside the rate of home runs he has allowed, Hughes has improved most areas of his game in hopes of a bounce back season.

 

*Note: Ralph Terry currently holds the New York Yankees record for most home runs allowed, 40, in a single season.  He did that while pitching 298.2 innings in 1962.  If Hughes stays at his current rate of 1.99 HR/9 allowed he will tie that record at 181.1 innings pitched.

**Note about the Note:  Ralph Terry ended that 1962 season with a 23-12 record and 3.19 ERA on his way to being named an All-Star, winning the 1962 World Series MVP, and being 14th in regular season MVP voting.

 

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