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A Look at the Diamondbacks Plate Discipline | May
With 40 games completed, the Diamondbacks' offense has been fairly solid, ranking 4th in the National League in runs per game, and 3rd in OPS. As expected, the team also ranks first in the NL in strikeouts, averaging over 9 per game. Let's take a closer look at the team's strikeouts - are they chasing pitches out of the zone, watching too many called strikes, or just swinging and missing good pitches? First, let's look at the team stats for plate discipline (data from Fangraphs.com, through 5/17/10):
Team Out of Zone Swing % Out of Zone Contact% In Zone Swing % In Zone Contact%
Diamondbacks 23.9% 55.9% 63.2% 82.6%
Braves 24.4% 66.1% 61.2% 89.0%
Brewers 24.9% 64.5% 64.3% 87.9%
Pirates 25.9% 59.8% 64.5% 86.2%
Rockies 26.0% 63.8% 65.5% 87.3%
Dodgers 26.8% 68.1% 60.0% 88.3%
Nationals 27.1% 65.5% 64.2% 88.7%
Padres 27.2% 61.3% 61.6% 87.6%
Phillies 27.4% 67.5% 61.7% 88.6%
Cubs 28.0% 64.8% 65.9% 88.8%
Cardinals 28.5% 64.4% 68.4% 86.1%
Reds 28.5% 62.6% 66.0% 86.6%
Astros 29.2% 64.1% 61.8% 90.7%
Marlins 29.3% 63.0% 65.4% 87.2%
Mets 29.9% 67.4% 62.3% 86.9%
Giants 30.3% 67.0% 66.1% 87.9%
The table shows four pieces of data. The first column is Out of Zone Swing %; this shows how often batters swing at pitches out of the strike zone. The second column shows how often the batter makes contact when they swing at these out-of-zone pitches. The third column shows how often batter swing at pitches in the strike zone, and the fourth shows how often they make contact on these pitches. As the table shows, the Diamondbacks chase the fewest pitches out of the strike zone, only 23.9% (Column 1). When they do swing, they also make contact the least often in the league, at only 55.9% (Column 2). The Diamondbacks are in the middle of the pack for swinging at pitches in the strike zone (Column 3), but when they do swing, they again make contact less than any other team (Column 4).
Player Out of Zone Swing % Out of Zone Contact % In the Zone Swing % In the Zone Contact %
Adam LaRoche 16.4% 49.0% 66.5% 82.0%
Conor Jackson 17.1% 74.1% 58.3% 92.6%
Chris Young 20.6% 50.0% 55.7% 84.9%
Cole Gillespie 22.5% 55.0% 58.9% 86.8%
Kelly Johnson 23.1% 57.3% 64.7% 84.9%
Stephen Drew 23.8% 63.2% 66.7% 92.1%
Mark Reynolds 24.3% 47.8% 73.5% 68.3%
Justin Upton 25.6% 53.8% 59.4% 75.7%
Chris Snyder 25.7% 45.5% 57.8% 84.2%
Tony Abreu 25.7% 76.9% 70.5% 89.2%
Gerardo Parra 34.2% 61.5% 67.6% 92.0%
Individually, Adam LaRoche and Conor Jackson chase the fewest pitches outside the strike zone.  LaRoche, along with Reynolds, make contact less than half the time when they chase. Several players are clustered around 25% for swinging at out-of-zone pitches. From this group, Tony Abreu still makes contact a remarkable 76.9% of the time on out-of-zone pitches. Inside the strike zone, Mark Reynolds swings the most often at 73.5%, while Chris Young swings the least. On these pitches in the zone, Reynolds and Justin Upton still only make contact at 68.3% and 75.7% respectively, the two lowest values in the National League. Only three other players in the NL are below 80% on contact rate for pitches in the zone, Matt Kemp, Drew Stubbs, and Jason Bay. So what can we conclude from this data? As a team, the Diamondbacks have very good plate discipline, swinging at only 23.9% of the pitches outside the strike zone, which is the lowest rate in the NL. Despite this, the Diamondbacks swing and miss more than any team in the league - they have the lowest contact rate at pitches both inside and outside of the strike zone. The biggest culprits are Mark Reynolds and Justin Upton, who have the lowest contact rates on pitches in the zone in the entire league. The best plate discipline belongs to Adam LaRoche and Conor Jackson, while Jackson and Abreu have the best contact rates on the team.