Thursday, December 30, 2010

Marco Scutaro’s Incredibly Ridiculous Plate Discipline

Marco Scutaro is an especially interesting player with an incredibly underrated skill set that may go un-noticed to the average fan. While traditional statistics like home runs and a high batting average are what generate attention and excitement; the reality is that a successful MLB player is measured beyond that into more meaningful statistics that better demonstrate his true value and contribution. Taking a closer look at Marco Scutaro’s 2010 season I found that Scutaro possesses one of the greatest assets to any Major League team; tremendous plate discipline.

One of the best indications of a player’s plate discipline and meaningful at bats is his pitches seen per plate appearance. Rather, the ability to wear pitchers down and make consistent contact fighting off pitches. In 2010 Marco Scutaro ranked 1st in all of MLB shortstops and 29th in all MLB with 4.04 pitches per plate appearance. Additionally, Scutaro saw 2,808 pitches in total which was still 100 more than the next closest SS and ranked 15th in all of MLB.

To better demonstrate just how superior Scutaro’s plate discipline is to the rest of the league we can take a look at some more advanced statistics. Here is a look at some key statistics that measure plate discipline and how he fared against the league average.

Swing %
Scutaro: 37.5% (5th in all of MLB)
Avg : 45.6%

O-Swing % (swing% pitches outside the zone)
Scutaro : 19.4% (5th in all of MLB)
Avg : 29.3%

O-Contact% (contact rate outside the zone)
Scutaro : 87% (3rd in all of MLB)
Avg : 66.5%

Z-Contact % (contact rate inside the zone)
Scutaro: 97.4% (3rd in all of MLB)
Average: 88.1%

Contact %
Scutaro: 94.8% (1st in all of MLB)
Average: 80.7%

SwSt % (swing and miss %)
Scutaro : 1.9% (1st in all MLB)
Avg : 8.5 %

Looking at these numbers we see that Scutaro is extremely patient at the plate and rarely reaches outside of the zone to chase pitches. Even when he does get fooled and caught off balance he manages to make contact 87% of the time – 21% more than league average.

The other statistic that stands out is his remarkable 94% contact rate and 1.9% swing and miss percentage which ranked him 1st in both categories amongst all of MLB at any position.

In addition to a low swing % and high contact rate you can probably predict that Scutaro took his share of walks as well. In 2010 Scutaro had 53 walks ranking him 3rd amongst AL shortstops. The single most important thing a player can do at the plate is not make an out. For this reason it is best to measure a player based on his On Base Percentage (% times he does not make an out). Scutaro had a .333 OBP in 2010 ranking him 3rd amongst AL shortstops.

I leave you with this visual of Scutaro’s BB/K ratio against the league average. Even after a considerable drop off from a career year in 09’ he still ranked well above the league average SS in 2010.

(All data courtesy of Fangraphs)


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