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On Logan Forsythe, who is suddenly good

Forsythe used to be a useful utilityman. Now he's the starting second baseman for the Rays, and he's doing this weird thing where he's hitting well. Huh?

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Logan Forsythe was a bit of a toss-in in the trade between the Rays and Padres that brought Brad Boxberger to Tampa along with Matt Andriese and a couple of prospects. The Rays gave up Jesse Hahn and Alex Torres in the process. While Boxberger has been nothing short of brilliant, Forsythe disappointed to the tune of -0.4 fWAR last year. All he's done this year is put up a 2.0 fWAR campaign in 53 games. Forsythe sports a 143 wRC+ that leads all qualifying batters on the Tampa squad and is second to only Jason Kipnis among all second basemen in baseball.

It's a remarkable little breakout for the 28-year-old, who thus far into his career had never really been anyone of note. A small gaggle of things have gone into the new-look Logan Forsythe. Chief among them is his plate discipline. The below charts from BrooksBaseball.net display his swing-and-miss rate around the strike zone from the start of his career through 2014 and for this year.

Forsythe is whiffing a lot less, especially outside of the zone. According to FanGraphs, he's swinging at only 19.7 percent of pitches outside of the zone in 2015. That mark was at 21.9 percent last year and even higher before that. Similarly, he's swinging less often in the zone (58.9% vs. 63.0%). This has caused his strikeout rate to fall from 21.1 percent to 14.9 percent. He's also walking at a 10.1 percent clip. Both marks are career bests.

Being more selective at the plate has also helped maximize the quality of contact that Forsythe is making. His line drives and fly balls are up (and those fly balls are leaving the park at a higher rate) while his ground balls are down. It's possible that the luck dragons are having their batted ball fun here, but I wouldn't be so quick to say so. This is a Logan Forsythe homer from 2014, and this is a Logan Forsythe homer from 2015. Notice any differences? Here are two more.

Forsythe is employing a slightly bigger leg kick this year. This allows him to get just a little longer of a look at the pitch, and he's not rushing into things as much. The bigger kick also allows him to put more force into the swing and drive the ball more. It's a tiny little thing that seems to be going a long way for Forsythe. It explains the higher-octane batted ball figures, and it explains a career high .182 ISO. When that's combined with his newfound plate discipline, Logan Forsythe suddenly becomes a legitimate offensive threat. Now let's check in on Forsythe's old team and their second baseman, Jedd Gyorko. Hmm... .216/.289/.319, 74 wRC+. Ouch. If only they'd had the foresight to keep Forsythe.

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Nicolas Stellini is a contributor at Beyond the Box Score and covers the Yankees and their Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder, at Pinstripe Alley. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.