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The new Josh Reddick

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The Oakland Athletics' Josh Reddick is hitting for both career high power and ground ball rates, while improving his plate discipline. What might be the cause?

Josh Reddick's improved plate discipline and efforts to hit the opposite way have paid dividends.
Josh Reddick's improved plate discipline and efforts to hit the opposite way have paid dividends.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick has consistently been a major league regular since the 2011 season, providing 2.0 fWAR or better, including an MVP-vote garnering 2012 campaign.

Reddick may have turned a further corner in 2015, posting 1.8 fWAR and career best offensive production (153 wRC+) through 50 games. He's also produced career bests in his key peripheral statistics, with 10.9 percent walks, only 9.4 percent strikeouts, and a .206 ISO.

Season BB% K% AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP wRC+
2007-2014 7.9% 20.0% .245 .305 .431 .736 .186 .275 101
2015 10.9% 9.4% .300 .376 .506 .882 .206 .301 153

With such start changes in Reddick's patience at the plate, a look at his plate discipline might be warranted using further FanGraphs data.

Season O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact% Zone% SwStr% Strike %
2007-2014 30.6% 71.7% 48.7% 70.9% 86.9% 81.3% 43.9% 9.0% 64.2%
2015 26.2% 61.3% 40.7% 75.8% 92.1% 85.9% 41.2% 5.6% 59.8%

Josh Reddick is clearly becoming more selective at the plate. He's swinging less often against pitches both in and out of the zone, and making more contact in both circumstances, and is whiffing at the lowest rate in his career. Whatever the reason, pitchers are also throwing him strikes less frequently than ever before. His 41.2 percent pitches in-the-zone, 53.5 percent first strikes, and 59.8 percent total strikes are each career lows.

While pitchers have been giving Reddick less to throw, he appears content to let them do it and take the free base. He's swinging less often at balls out of the zone, and making more contact when he does.

Season LD% GB% FB% Pull% Cent% Oppo% Soft% Med% Hard%
2007-2014 20.0% 32.2% 47.7% 40.2% 35.8% 24.1% 18.2% 52.6% 29.2%
2015 25.5% 35.4% 39.1% 35.4% 38.5% 26.1% 15.5% 55.9% 28.6%

Quite curiously, Reddick is hitting more ground balls than ever despite a career high ISO. He is also pulling fewer balls than at any point in his career, which may not be an accident. Inside The A's reported last month that Reddick had spent April attempting to hit the ball the other way, to beat the shift. The results show that his new approach is working, and it is a potential explanation for the higher rate of ground balls and line drives.

As a left-handed hitter with power and a past tendency to strike out, he'd obviously be affected by the shift. His .301 BABIP reflects a 26-point increase over his prior career average, a possible outcome of beating the shift.

A major boost toward Reddick's improved plate discipline appears to be his improved approach towards breaking pitches. In his pre-2015 career, he was often exposed to low breaking balls, resulting in a .228 BAA and .159 ISO. This season, he has a far better eye against breaking balls, and despite a lower .120 ISO, his opposite field approach coincides with a .280 BAA, per Brooks Baseball.

Josh Reddick - Breaking Balls

Through the early going of the season, Reddick has so far avoided swings to breaking balls outside the strike zone, while whiffing on a much lower percentage in his zones. It is likely as well that an improved ability to differentiate breaking balls also improved performance against traditional fastballs, which six out of his eight home runs have come against.

With the glut of fresh-faced young talent in the majors this season, Josh Reddick's significant improvements have fallen a bit through the cracks. However, if he can maintain his eye, selectivity at the plate, and opposite field approach, Reddick is revealing his realistic ceiling to be a bit higher than the everyday regular displayed in his career to date.

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Spencer Bingol is a Contributor at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SpencerBingol.