Plate Discipline at the Futures Game-Off the Radar

I have been taking a look on my own blog at the Pitch F/X data from the Futures game to get a different and better look at the prospects involved in the game. The data can give us a look at what pitches the pitchers throw, where they locate them, how it moves, and where they release the ball. It can also, if used cautiously, give us a glimpse of the hitters’ plate discipline.

In this post, I’ll take a look at some of the “worst swings” (the swings at pitches the furthest outside of the strike zone) in the Futures game, looking at which pitchers caused them and the hitters that swung at them. We will look at them in graph form, labelled with the result, pitch type, and velocity.

The swing at the highest pitch was by Arismendy Alcantara (Cubs) against Noah Syndergaard (Mets), a swinging strike on a fastball:

Syndengaard is right-handed pitcher and Alcantara is a switch hitter, so this is thrown arm-side, but away, and Alcantara couldn’t lay off of it and couldn’t hit it.

The swing at the lowest pitch was by C.J. Cron (Angels) against a Rafael De Paula (Yankees) fastball, turning into a force out

Cron and De Paula are both right-handed, so this is a fastball thrown low and away. So it doesn’t appear that there was a terrible breaking ball swung at. Of course, 70.9 % of all pitches in the game were some kind of fastballs. In the Majors this season, about 57.6% of pitches have been fastballs, with about 60.6% of pitches thrown by relievers have been fastballs. The Futures Game was a fastball heavy game, with most pitchers airing it out as hard as they could. So the fact that there was a swinging strike percentage over 10 percent for the game speaks to both the power fastballs in the game, and the lack of polish in some of the hitters.

The swing at the pitch the furthest outside the zone to the right (from behind the plate) was by James McCann (Tigers) against Miguel Almonte (Royals), a whiff on a moving fastball:

The swing at the pitch the furthest outside the zone to the left was also by James McCann (Tigers) against Miguel Almonte (Royals) again, this time a groundout on a curveball

McCann has never been much of a hitter in the minor leagues (only having an above league average wRC + in 5 games of rookie ball in 2011, hitting at a below average level the rest of the way), and has never walked more than 6.5% at any level, so it isn’t really surprising that he had problems chasing in the Futures Game. Almonte on the other hand, has been a pretty good strikeout pitcher in the minors, so it isn’t really surprising that he can get some bad swings out of the zone.

Here are all the pitches swung at outside of the traditional strike zone during the Futures Game, labelled with the hitter and pitcher (the hitter is the first name)

A lot of the swings come on fastballs thrown in on the hands, very close to the plate. Addison Russell had a couple of whiffs low out of the zone against two different pitchers and Xander Bogaerts had a lot of swings out of the zone, both high and inside. I think you have to be impressed by Syndengaard, and the amount of swings he was able to get out of the zone. Eduardo Rodriguez got a couple of swings outside the zone on the glove side of the plate to Chris Owings, a notoriously impatient right-handed hitter. Archie Bradley’s name shows up a few times as well. I think it is notable to see which pitchers caused swings out of the zone, especially which ones are getting misses out of the zone, because it shows which pitchers had the right combination of command, stuff, and deception to fool hitters and have them swing at pitches they shouldn’t.

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