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Vladimir Guerrero and His Free Swinging Ways

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I haven't seen much of Vladimir Guerrero play this season, but he has looked horrible swinging at pitches out of the zone in the playoffs. Even though I have read that he swings a way, haven't seen he him action recently.  I decided to look at Vlad's ability to judge the strike zone and not swing at pitches outside of the zone.


Fangraphs has some measures of contact rate for a player's balls in and out of the strike zone. Even though I love Fangraphs, the information was not complete enough for that I wanted to see how the balls were hit (e.g. foul, out, hit). Also, all the pitches out of the zone were used at Fangraphs. I wanted to limit them to pitches just outside the zone by eliminating the number of called balls way out of the zone. For my strike zone, I used -1.2 and 1.2 for the x dimension and 1.5 to 3.5 for the y dimension.  For the expanded zone I increased the x dimension to -2 and 2 and the y dimension to 0.5 and 4.5.


Including Vlad, I looked at 2 sluggers from each team left in the playoffs. Also, I ran the numbers for all hitters. I used all available Pitch F/X data from all years since the sample size was small in some cases. Here are the results:


Description Vlad Hunter Arod Teix Manny Kemp Howard Utley All Batters
Balls 51.5% 70.6% 75.8% 77.0% 76.7% 67.2% 66.6% 71.5% 71.8%
Called Strike 1.2% 1.1% 2.4% 3.4% 2.3% 1.9% 3.2% 3.6% 2.2%
Fouls 17.9% 8.5% 6.9% 6.6% 7.7% 9.5% 8.3% 10.4% 9.3%
In play, no out 4.7% 2.0% 1.4% 1.8% 1.2% 2.8% 1.6% 4.5% 2.0%
In play, out(s) 10.6% 3.4% 2.5% 3.3% 3.0% 4.3% 2.8% 1.5% 4.5%
Swinging Strike 14.2% 14.4% 11.0% 8.0% 9.0% 14.2% 17.5% 8.4% 10.3%
Total Pitches 1488 1327 1193 1935 1448 1441 1861 1592 424815
BABIP 0.308 0.375 0.362 0.347 0.279 0.398 0.358 0.747 0.303

As can be seen, Vlad is swinging at about half of the pitches out of the strike zone.  That rate is ~20% more than the league average and about > 25% more than Ramirez, Teixiera, and Rodriguez.    About 18% of the pitches go for foul balls which is about twice the league average of 9%. Of the balls he puts into play, 30.8% (for a BABIP of .308) turn into hits which is really close to the league average of 30.3%. Most of the other players above have above average BABIP when swinging out of the zone, except Utley which has an insane 0.747.


Besides the overall numbers here is a repersentation of where these pitches are located and the results.


Vlad chases pitches all over the place, but has worse contact inside, then problem above and below and finally he is able to put the bat on the ball on the outside part of the plate.


I have a soft for Vlad and his free swinging ways, but maybe a few time he could help himself and his team and lay off a few of the pitches outside the strike zone.