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Victims of the swinging strike (blocked)

In part two of our look at pitches in the dirt, we focus on the hitters who can’t help but chase.

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Last week we looked at the masters of the “swinging strike (blocked),” the pitchers who were best able to induce swings at balls in the dirt in 2016. I won’t rehash the genesis of this examination, as you can read about that in last week’s piece; suffice it to say, a particularly wild day from Edwin Diaz earlier this year was the motivator. Today, with a tip of the cap to swing-at-anything legend Vladimir Guerrero, we use the same criteria to examine which batters were most and least susceptible to baseball’s unhittable pitch — a ball in the dirt.

Nothing was unhittable to Vlad.
Gif via MLB.com

As it was last week, the data sets used here are all relatively simple Baseball Savant queries. I’ll just quote the methodology exactly as it was written in the previous piece.

Find the total number of pitches classified in MLB.com’s Gameday as either “Ball In Dirt” or “Swinging Strike (Blocked)” then divide the whiffs — swinging strike (blocked) — from that total number of balls in the dirt. We’ll call it the “Whiffs to Balls in Dirt Rate,” listed as WH/BD % on the following leaderboards.

The only difference this time is that we changed the search from pitchers to batters. Without further ado, the leaderboards.

WH/BD % Leaderboard: Overall

Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Tyler Naquin 34 21 61.8%
Mallex Smith 28 16 57.1%
Andrew Romine 27 15 55.6%
Derek Dietrich 46 24 52.2%
Dee Gordon 29 15 51.7%
Freddy Galvis 76 39 51.3%
Tim Anderson 49 25 51.0%
Jimmy Paredes 28 14 50.0%
James McCann 47 23 48.9%
Adam Jones 74 36 48.6%
Tommy Pham 29 14 48.3%
Adam Lind 54 26 48.1%
Jake Marisnick 25 12 48.0%
Lonnie Chisenhall 46 22 47.8%
Chris Johnson 44 21 47.7%
Eddie Rosario 42 20 47.6%
Salvador Perez 73 34 46.6%
Christian Bethancourt 28 13 46.4%
Gerardo Parra 39 18 46.2%
Odubel Herrera 66 30 45.5%
Jake Lamb 86 39 45.3%
Adam Eaton 64 29 45.3%
Ryon Healy 31 14 45.2%
Byron Buxton 50 22 44.0%
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 30 13 43.3%
Danny Santana 28 12 42.9%
Dioner Navarro 47 20 42.6%
Jon Jay 33 14 42.4%
Scooter Gennett 69 29 42.0%
Gregorio Petit 31 13 41.9%
Juan Uribe 29 12 41.4%
Whit Merrifield 46 19 41.3%
Randal Grichuk 80 33 41.3%
Corey Dickerson 66 27 40.9%
Javier Baez 71 29 40.8%
Phil Gosselin 27 11 40.7%
Carlos Gomez 69 28 40.6%
Eduardo Escobar 47 19 40.4%
Chris Davis 73 29 39.7%
Brett Wallace 33 13 39.4%
Tyler Holt 28 11 39.3%
Brandon Moss 79 31 39.2%
Hernan Perez 51 20 39.2%
Eric Hosmer 90 35 38.9%
Justin Morneau 34 13 38.2%
Rajai Davis 55 21 38.2%
Zack Cozart 37 14 37.8%
Matt Adams 48 18 37.5%
Kendrys Morales 107 40 37.4%
David Dahl 35 13 37.1%
Carlos Gonzalez 81 30 37.0%
Andres Blanco 27 10 37.0%
Chase d'Arnaud 41 15 36.6%
Yoenis Cespedes 74 27 36.5%
Robinson Cano 94 34 36.2%
Paulo Orlando 50 18 36.0%
Ketel Marte 50 18 36.0%
Johnny Giavotella 25 9 36.0%
Evan Gattis 64 23 35.9%
Starlin Castro 92 33 35.9%
Colby Rasmus 56 20 35.7%
Prince Fielder 42 15 35.7%
Chris Herrmann 28 10 35.7%
Melky Cabrera 59 21 35.6%
Scott Schebler 34 12 35.3%
Stephen Vogt 54 19 35.2%
Alejandro De Aza 37 13 35.1%
Howie Kendrick 57 20 35.1%
Brandon Drury 57 20 35.1%
Sandy Leon 40 14 35.0%
Jackie Bradley Jr. 69 24 34.8%
Ryan Schimpf 55 19 34.5%
Brad Miller 79 27 34.2%
Kolten Wong 41 14 34.1%
Eugenio Suarez 65 22 33.8%
Ian Desmond 68 23 33.8%
Evan Longoria 74 25 33.8%
Jose Abreu 132 44 33.3%
Yasmani Grandal 87 29 33.3%
Corey Seager 87 29 33.3%
Jason Kipnis 69 23 33.3%
Curtis Granderson 69 23 33.3%
Brett Lawrie 57 19 33.3%
Erick Aybar 45 15 33.3%
Jed Lowrie 36 12 33.3%
Yan Gomes 33 11 33.3%
Abraham Almonte 30 10 33.3%
Charlie Blackmon 55 18 32.7%
Gary Sanchez 49 16 32.7%
Brock Holt 43 14 32.6%
Willson Contreras 40 13 32.5%
Tucker Barnhart 37 12 32.4%
Jose Reyes 28 9 32.1%
Christian Vazquez 25 8 32.0%
Tony Wolters 25 8 32.0%
Yangervis Solarte 41 13 31.7%
Starling Marte 60 19 31.7%
Gregory Polanco 70 22 31.4%
Kole Calhoun 102 32 31.4%
Nick Castellanos 61 19 31.1%
Rougned Odor 84 26 31.0%
Todd Frazier 68 21 30.9%
Trevor Story 68 21 30.9%
Jonathan Lucroy 65 20 30.8%
Miguel Montero 26 8 30.8%
C.J. Cron 62 19 30.6%
Alexei Ramirez 49 15 30.6%
Matt Duffy 49 15 30.6%
Tyler Saladino 36 11 30.6%
Jose Altuve 56 17 30.4%
Alcides Escobar 66 20 30.3%
Alex Bregman 33 10 30.3%
Peter Bourjos 33 10 30.3%
Danny Espinosa 90 27 30.0%
Adonis Garcia 80 24 30.0%
Ryan Braun 70 21 30.0%
Eduardo Nunez 60 18 30.0%
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 60 18 30.0%
Jeff Francoeur 50 15 30.0%
Jean Segura 64 19 29.7%
J.D. Martinez 81 24 29.6%
Max Kepler 54 16 29.6%
Jason Castro 54 16 29.6%
Michael Conforto 44 13 29.5%
Pedro Alvarez 62 18 29.0%
Enrique Hernandez 28 8 28.6%
Ender Inciarte 57 16 28.1%
Travis Shaw 75 21 28.0%
Devon Travis 50 14 28.0%
Alex Avila 25 7 28.0%
Addison Russell 68 19 27.9%
Logan Morrison 36 10 27.8%
Giancarlo Stanton 87 24 27.6%
Jonathan Schoop 66 18 27.3%
Bobby Wilson 33 9 27.3%
Asdrubal Cabrera 67 18 26.9%
Brandon Crawford 108 29 26.9%
Danny Valencia 82 22 26.8%
Chris Coghlan 41 11 26.8%
Mike Trout 101 27 26.7%
Jacoby Ellsbury 60 16 26.7%
Oswaldo Arcia 30 8 26.7%
Mikie Mahtook 30 8 26.7%
Maikel Franco 98 26 26.5%
Alex Gordon 49 13 26.5%
Billy Hamilton 34 9 26.5%
Brian McCann 53 14 26.4%
Carlos Beltran 76 20 26.3%
Kevin Pillar 65 17 26.2%
Nomar Mazara 73 19 26.0%
Matt Holliday 50 13 26.0%
Steven Souza Jr. 54 14 25.9%
Ivan De Jesus Jr. 27 7 25.9%
Welington Castillo 58 15 25.9%
Elvis Andrus 62 16 25.8%
Mike Zunino 31 8 25.8%
Gregor Blanco 35 9 25.7%
Didi Gregorius 39 10 25.6%
Matt Wieters 43 11 25.6%
Mark Trumbo 98 25 25.5%
Stephen Piscotty 106 27 25.5%
Avisail Garcia 71 18 25.4%
Xander Bogaerts 104 26 25.0%
Matt Kemp 96 24 25.0%
Marwin Gonzalez 84 21 25.0%
Michael Saunders 68 17 25.0%
Ryan Rua 40 10 25.0%
Orlando Arcia 40 10 25.0%
Nick Ahmed 28 7 25.0%
Justin Upton 77 19 24.7%
Cheslor Cuthbert 57 14 24.6%
Jace Peterson 45 11 24.4%
Kelly Johnson 37 9 24.3%
Mitch Moreland 70 17 24.3%
Ryan Zimmerman 66 16 24.2%
Norichika Aoki 33 8 24.2%
Chris Owings 54 13 24.1%
Joc Pederson 75 18 24.0%
Conor Gillaspie 25 6 24.0%
Coco Crisp 42 10 23.8%
Aaron Altherr 42 10 23.8%
Leonys Martin 59 14 23.7%
Justin Smoak 38 9 23.7%
Nelson Cruz 110 26 23.6%
Josh Reddick 51 12 23.5%
Marcell Ozuna 98 23 23.5%
Rene Rivera 30 7 23.3%
Ichiro Suzuki 30 7 23.3%
Daniel Descalso 43 10 23.3%
Jayson Werth 78 18 23.1%
Byungho Park 39 9 23.1%
Carlos Ruiz 26 6 23.1%
Austin Jackson 26 6 23.1%
Jarrod Dyson 26 6 23.1%
Cristhian Adames 35 8 22.9%
Adam Duvall 79 18 22.8%
Travis Jankowski 44 10 22.7%
Jarrett Parker 31 7 22.6%
Lorenzo Cain 71 16 22.5%
Jose Iglesias 40 9 22.5%
Manny Machado 98 22 22.4%
Jason Heyward 49 11 22.4%
Cesar Hernandez 58 13 22.4%
Yasmany Tomas 81 18 22.2%
Tyler White 36 8 22.2%
Robbie Grossman 36 8 22.2%
Jake Smolinski 27 6 22.2%
Tim Beckham 27 6 22.2%
Jedd Gyorko 68 15 22.1%
Matt Carpenter 68 15 22.1%
Neil Walker 59 13 22.0%
Cameron Rupp 50 11 22.0%
Seth Smith 64 14 21.9%
Sean Rodriguez 46 10 21.7%
Yadier Molina 46 10 21.7%
Gordon Beckham 37 8 21.6%
Michael Bourn 51 11 21.6%
DJ LeMahieu 51 11 21.6%
Jose Ramirez 65 14 21.5%
Anthony Rendon 79 17 21.5%
Christian Yelich 93 20 21.5%
Chris Carter 107 23 21.5%
Alex Rodriguez 28 6 21.4%
Adeiny Hechavarria 47 10 21.3%
Marcus Semien 71 15 21.1%
Freddie Freeman 90 19 21.1%
Trea Turner 38 8 21.1%
Daniel Murphy 72 15 20.8%
Dae-Ho Lee 48 10 20.8%
Chase Utley 48 10 20.8%
Greg Garcia 29 6 20.7%
Miguel Sano 92 19 20.7%
Wilson Ramos 68 14 20.6%
Hanley Ramirez 73 15 20.5%
Josh Harrison 44 9 20.5%
Derek Norris 49 10 20.4%
Logan Forsythe 49 10 20.4%
Mark Reynolds 74 15 20.3%
Bryce Harper 70 14 20.0%
Jonathan Villar 70 14 20.0%
Chase Headley 55 11 20.0%
Ryan Raburn 45 9 20.0%
Yasiel Puig 40 8 20.0%
Steve Pearce 40 8 20.0%
Matt Szczur 30 6 20.0%
Nolan Arenado 101 20 19.8%
Kyle Seager 86 17 19.8%
Khris Davis 76 15 19.7%
Anthony Rizzo 107 21 19.6%
Joe Mauer 51 10 19.6%
Brian Dozier 82 16 19.5%
J.T. Realmuto 62 12 19.4%
Alex Dickerson 31 6 19.4%
Jung Ho Kang 52 10 19.2%
Jay Bruce 73 14 19.2%
David Freese 73 14 19.2%
John Jaso 47 9 19.1%
George Springer 84 16 19.0%
Nick Markakis 63 12 19.0%
Denard Span 64 12 18.8%
Yunel Escobar 48 9 18.8%
Justin Bour 32 6 18.8%
Ian Kinsler 59 11 18.6%
Carlos Correa 102 19 18.6%
Kevin Kiermaier 43 8 18.6%
Curt Casali 49 9 18.4%
Brett Gardner 71 13 18.3%
Nick Hundley 55 10 18.2%
Ryan Howard 33 6 18.2%
Adam Rosales 33 6 18.2%
Adrian Gonzalez 78 14 17.9%
Mac Williamson 28 5 17.9%
Yonder Alonso 62 11 17.7%
Brandon Belt 102 18 17.6%
Hunter Pence 91 16 17.6%
Brandon Phillips 80 14 17.5%
Troy Tulowitzki 86 15 17.4%
Adrian Beltre 69 12 17.4%
Angel Pagan 46 8 17.4%
Martin Maldonado 29 5 17.2%
Miguel Cabrera 82 14 17.1%
Tommy Joseph 41 7 17.1%
Tyler Flowers 41 7 17.1%
Dustin Pedroia 88 15 17.0%
Mike Napoli 78 13 16.7%
Melvin Upton Jr. 48 8 16.7%
Keon Broxton 30 5 16.7%
Joe Panik 62 10 16.1%
David Ortiz 87 14 16.1%
Trayce Thompson 38 6 15.8%
Victor Martinez 90 14 15.6%
Francisco Lindor 79 12 15.2%
Justin Turner 79 12 15.2%
Kris Bryant 106 16 15.1%
Martin Prado 60 9 15.0%
Jefry Marte 40 6 15.0%
Josh Donaldson 114 17 14.9%
Jordy Mercer 68 10 14.7%
Joey Votto 68 10 14.7%
Aaron Hill 56 8 14.3%
Jurickson Profar 42 6 14.3%
Andrew McCutchen 93 13 14.0%
Mookie Betts 93 13 14.0%
Kurt Suzuki 36 5 13.9%
Albert Pujols 109 15 13.8%
Wilmer Flores 37 5 13.5%
Ben Zobrist 82 11 13.4%
Nolan Reimold 30 4 13.3%
James Loney 38 5 13.2%
Jorge Soler 46 6 13.0%
Hyun Soo Kim 47 6 12.8%
Aledmys Diaz 63 8 12.7%
Buster Posey 88 11 12.5%
Franklin Gutierrez 48 6 12.5%
Chris Iannetta 53 6 11.3%
Edwin Encarnacion 108 12 11.1%
Clint Robinson 36 4 11.1%
Rickie Weeks Jr. 27 3 11.1%
Chris Young 27 3 11.1%
Billy Butler 28 3 10.7%
Francisco Cervelli 58 6 10.3%
Carlos Santana 79 8 10.1%
Russell Martin 80 8 10.0%
Travis d'Arnaud 40 4 10.0%
Andrelton Simmons 41 4 9.8%
Mark Teixeira 52 5 9.6%
Cameron Maybin 32 3 9.4%
Aaron Hicks 32 3 9.4%
Dexter Fowler 54 5 9.3%
Wil Myers 76 7 9.2%
Ramon Flores 27 2 7.4%
Ezequiel Carrera 41 3 7.3%
Jose Bautista 72 5 6.9%
Trevor Plouffe 29 2 6.9%
Matt Joyce 47 3 6.4%
J.J. Hardy 49 3 6.1%
Jhonny Peralta 39 2 5.1%
Luis Valbuena 28 1 3.6%
Paul Goldschmidt 93 3 3.2%
Minimum 25 Balls in Dirt Faced Data via Baseball Savant

Tyler Naquin claims the top spot, as he swings and misses at 61.8 percent of the total pitches in the dirt he sees. There are nine players with a whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate above 50 percent and while one of them is a former batting champion — remember how Dee Gordon won a batting title!? — none of them are especially known for having top-tier plate discipline.

The uppermost portion of this list isn’t filled with the league’s poorest offensive players. In the top 50 we see names like Adam Jones, Chris Davis Jake Lamb, Adam Eaton, and Odubel Herrera. These are all quality, productive major league hitters who don’t have outlandishly above-average swing rates in general — even Chris Davis, despite the strikeout rate and possibly valid preconceived notions — but they are apparently vulnerable to balls in the dirt.

If you go ahead and sort by the lowest “WH/DB %” on the leaderboard you’ll find Paul Goldschmidt, the king of laying off balls in the dirt. Goldschmidt saw 93 pitches of this nature last year and only swung at three of them. Three. Total. There were 14 other players who tallied a whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate below 10 percent, but none of them saw near as many pitches as Goldy. As you can see from the scatter plot below with some outliers highlighted, Goldschmidt is in a class all his own.

Chart via Baseball Savant

The sample sizes are generally pretty small here, as they encompass a snapshot of just one season, and they’re going to be even smaller as we move forward to parse the data in regard to count and pitch type. But a snapshot of data, even if it can’t be extrapolated to definitive conclusions, can still be informative.

Now we’ll take a look at whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate in certain contexts. The minimums have been dropped as they all represent smaller pieces of the overall leaderboard.

WH/BD % Leaderboard: Hitter Ahead

Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Odubel Herrera 14 7 50.0%
Christian Yelich 11 5 45.5%
David Freese 11 5 45.5%
Rougned Odor 12 4 33.3%
Brandon Crawford 12 4 33.3%
Eric Hosmer 20 6 30.0%
Carlos Correa 21 6 28.6%
Jose Ramirez 11 3 27.3%
Jose Abreu 15 4 26.7%
Kole Calhoun 17 4 23.5%
Carlos Gonzalez 14 3 21.4%
Lorenzo Cain 14 3 21.4%
Adam Eaton 10 2 20.0%
Adonis Garcia 10 2 20.0%
Mike Napoli 10 2 20.0%
Giancarlo Stanton 22 4 18.2%
Kendrys Morales 11 2 18.2%
Hunter Pence 17 3 17.6%
Marcell Ozuna 17 3 17.6%
Robinson Cano 12 2 16.7%
Ryan Braun 12 2 16.7%
Jay Bruce 12 2 16.7%
Joey Votto 13 2 15.4%
Chris Davis 13 2 15.4%
Albert Pujols 13 2 15.4%
George Springer 13 2 15.4%
Brad Miller 14 2 14.3%
Miguel Cabrera 14 2 14.3%
Xander Bogaerts 14 2 14.3%
Mark Trumbo 15 2 13.3%
Hanley Ramirez 15 2 13.3%
Victor Martinez 16 2 12.5%
Starlin Castro 16 2 12.5%
Nolan Arenado 16 2 12.5%
Anthony Rizzo 18 2 11.1%
Freddie Freeman 19 2 10.5%
Maikel Franco 10 1 10.0%
Carlos Gomez 10 1 10.0%
Matt Kemp 10 1 10.0%
Dustin Pedroia 10 1 10.0%
Chris Young 10 1 10.0%
Brian Dozier 11 1 9.1%
Chris Carter 11 1 9.1%
Troy Tulowitzki 11 1 9.1%
Aaron Hill 11 1 9.1%
Aaron Altherr 11 1 9.1%
Adrian Gonzalez 11 1 9.1%
Yasmani Grandal 12 1 8.3%
Curtis Granderson 12 1 8.3%
Jason Heyward 13 1 7.7%
Marcus Semien 13 1 7.7%
Edwin Encarnacion 14 1 7.1%
Andrew McCutchen 14 1 7.1%
Stephen Piscotty 15 1 6.7%
Danny Valencia 15 1 6.7%
Mookie Betts 16 1 6.3%
Paul Goldschmidt 22 1 4.5%
Carlos Santana 18 0 0.0%
Josh Donaldson 17 0 0.0%
David Ortiz 15 0 0.0%
Kris Bryant 15 0 0.0%
Miguel Sano 14 0 0.0%
Ben Zobrist 14 0 0.0%
Bryce Harper 14 0 0.0%
Angel Pagan 13 0 0.0%
Jason Kipnis 13 0 0.0%
Joe Panik 13 0 0.0%
Manny Machado 13 0 0.0%
Brandon Belt 13 0 0.0%
Justin Turner 12 0 0.0%
Jordy Mercer 12 0 0.0%
Travis Shaw 12 0 0.0%
Jose Bautista 12 0 0.0%
Cheslor Cuthbert 11 0 0.0%
Daniel Murphy 11 0 0.0%
Buster Posey 11 0 0.0%
Ryan Zimmerman 11 0 0.0%
Chris Iannetta 10 0 0.0%
Nick Hundley 10 0 0.0%
Mike Trout 10 0 0.0%
Kyle Seager 10 0 0.0%
Jake Lamb 10 0 0.0%
Jhonny Peralta 10 0 0.0%
Minimum 10 Balls in Dirt Faced Data via Baseball Savant

You’re not going to see a lot of intentional pitches in the dirt when the hitter is ahead. The batter is shrinking his zone and looking for a good pitch to hit and the pitcher is generally looking to throw strikes and get back into a competitive count. That said, if you’re a big league hurler who has fallen behind to Odubel Herrera, it’s not crazy to throw one in the dirt and hope he’ll chase, as it happened half the time in 2016.

It’s interesting to see Christian Yelich here, as he’s not thought of as a free-swinger. His swing rates are generally a little below league average and he is regarded as one of the game’s best hitters. In a small sample like this sometimes unexpected names will pop-up, and we can’t really make sweeping judgements about these smaller context outcomes. While Herrera is 21st on the overall leaderboard, having faced a total of 66 balls in the dirt in 2016, Yelich doesn’t appear because he didn’t face even 25.

Is Yelich more susceptible to chasing a ball in the dirt when he’s ahead in the count? Maybe. He’s such a tough out in general that in a low leverage situation it might be at least worth trying a spiked curveball on 2–0 or 3–1.

WH/BD % Leaderboard: Hitter Behind

Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Adam Eaton 28 21 75.0%
Andrew Romine 20 14 70.0%
Freddy Galvis 41 28 68.3%
Whit Merrifield 26 17 65.4%
Adam Lind 28 18 64.3%
Tim Anderson 21 13 61.9%
James McCann 30 18 60.0%
Gerardo Parra 28 16 57.1%
Eddie Rosario 21 12 57.1%
Lonnie Chisenhall 21 12 57.1%
Curtis Granderson 30 17 56.7%
Prince Fielder 23 13 56.5%
Jake Lamb 40 22 55.0%
Chris Johnson 20 11 55.0%
Hernan Perez 26 14 53.8%
Chris Davis 28 15 53.6%
Paulo Orlando 28 15 53.6%
Howie Kendrick 30 16 53.3%
Corey Dickerson 30 16 53.3%
Eric Hosmer 30 16 53.3%
Carlos Gomez 34 18 52.9%
Brandon Moss 36 19 52.8%
Adam Jones 42 22 52.4%
Yan Gomes 21 11 52.4%
Brandon Drury 25 13 52.0%
Jason Kipnis 27 14 51.9%
Byron Buxton 31 16 51.6%
Starlin Castro 43 22 51.2%
Yasmani Grandal 40 20 50.0%
Evan Gattis 30 15 50.0%
Alcides Escobar 26 13 50.0%
Dioner Navarro 26 13 50.0%
Rajai Davis 29 14 48.3%
Willson Contreras 23 11 47.8%
Erick Aybar 23 11 47.8%
Ian Desmond 38 18 47.4%
Carlos Beltran 35 16 45.7%
Scooter Gennett 33 15 45.5%
Carlos Gonzalez 33 15 45.5%
Eduardo Escobar 20 9 45.0%
Charlie Blackmon 20 9 45.0%
Jackie Bradley Jr. 29 13 44.8%
Randal Grichuk 45 20 44.4%
Yoenis Cespedes 36 16 44.4%
Colby Rasmus 27 12 44.4%
Ryan Schimpf 27 12 44.4%
Robinson Cano 43 19 44.2%
Justin Morneau 23 10 43.5%
Brad Miller 30 13 43.3%
Rougned Odor 42 18 42.9%
Salvador Perez 42 18 42.9%
David Dahl 21 9 42.9%
Melky Cabrera 26 11 42.3%
Chase d'Arnaud 24 10 41.7%
Chris Owings 24 10 41.7%
Javier Baez 41 17 41.5%
Todd Frazier 27 11 40.7%
Stephen Vogt 27 11 40.7%
Giancarlo Stanton 30 12 40.0%
Pedro Alvarez 25 10 40.0%
Brett Wallace 20 8 40.0%
Kole Calhoun 46 18 39.1%
Yadier Molina 23 9 39.1%
Matt Adams 23 9 39.1%
Corey Seager 31 12 38.7%
Kendrys Morales 44 17 38.6%
Eugenio Suarez 39 15 38.5%
Jonathan Schoop 26 10 38.5%
Orlando Arcia 21 8 38.1%
Justin Smoak 21 8 38.1%
Tyler Saladino 21 8 38.1%
Gregory Polanco 21 8 38.1%
Jacoby Ellsbury 29 11 37.9%
Ketel Marte 29 11 37.9%
Jonathan Lucroy 29 11 37.9%
Ryan Braun 29 11 37.9%
Brett Lawrie 32 12 37.5%
Jean Segura 32 12 37.5%
Steven Souza Jr. 24 9 37.5%
Daniel Murphy 24 9 37.5%
Kevin Pillar 35 13 37.1%
Ender Inciarte 27 10 37.0%
Jose Abreu 68 25 36.8%
Trevor Story 22 8 36.4%
Josh Reddick 25 9 36.0%
Jace Peterson 25 9 36.0%
Nick Castellanos 25 9 36.0%
J.D. Martinez 39 14 35.9%
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 31 11 35.5%
Manny Machado 40 14 35.0%
Didi Gregorius 20 7 35.0%
Michael Conforto 23 8 34.8%
Brian McCann 23 8 34.8%
Jason Castro 23 8 34.8%
Jeff Francoeur 23 8 34.8%
Starling Marte 26 9 34.6%
Alexei Ramirez 29 10 34.5%
Addison Russell 32 11 34.4%
C.J. Cron 32 11 34.4%
Mark Trumbo 47 16 34.0%
Nomar Mazara 39 13 33.3%
Asdrubal Cabrera 39 13 33.3%
Danny Espinosa 36 12 33.3%
Chase Headley 30 10 33.3%
Brock Holt 27 9 33.3%
Adeiny Hechavarria 24 8 33.3%
Neil Walker 24 8 33.3%
Gary Sanchez 24 8 33.3%
Alex Gordon 21 7 33.3%
Yangervis Solarte 21 7 33.3%
Matt Kemp 61 20 32.8%
Travis Shaw 37 12 32.4%
Marwin Gonzalez 37 12 32.4%
Matt Holliday 28 9 32.1%
Jonathan Villar 28 9 32.1%
Xander Bogaerts 50 16 32.0%
Logan Forsythe 25 8 32.0%
Welington Castillo 25 8 32.0%
Yonder Alonso 25 8 32.0%
Brandon Crawford 47 15 31.9%
Nolan Arenado 47 15 31.9%
Cesar Hernandez 22 7 31.8%
Adonis Garcia 35 11 31.4%
David Ortiz 32 10 31.3%
Anthony Rendon 32 10 31.3%
Mark Reynolds 29 9 31.0%
Maikel Franco 42 13 31.0%
Michael Saunders 26 8 30.8%
Justin Upton 33 10 30.3%
Elvis Andrus 30 9 30.0%
Travis Jankowski 20 6 30.0%
Evan Longoria 27 8 29.6%
Devon Travis 27 8 29.6%
Joe Panik 27 8 29.6%
Justin Turner 27 8 29.6%
Miguel Sano 34 10 29.4%
Cameron Rupp 24 7 29.2%
Cheslor Cuthbert 24 7 29.2%
Adrian Beltre 31 9 29.0%
Anthony Rizzo 45 13 28.9%
Stephen Piscotty 42 12 28.6%
Derek Norris 21 6 28.6%
Tyler Flowers 21 6 28.6%
Kyle Seager 39 11 28.2%
George Springer 32 9 28.1%
Brian Dozier 32 9 28.1%
Jay Bruce 25 7 28.0%
Joc Pederson 36 10 27.8%
Leonys Martin 40 11 27.5%
Brett Gardner 33 9 27.3%
Dae-Ho Lee 22 6 27.3%
Matt Wieters 22 6 27.3%
Ryan Zimmerman 37 10 27.0%
Christian Yelich 37 10 27.0%
Freddie Freeman 37 10 27.0%
Jayson Werth 26 7 26.9%
Coco Crisp 26 7 26.9%
Yasmany Tomas 45 12 26.7%
J.T. Realmuto 30 8 26.7%
Marcell Ozuna 38 10 26.3%
Dustin Pedroia 38 10 26.3%
Michael Bourn 27 7 25.9%
Eduardo Nunez 27 7 25.9%
Ben Zobrist 31 8 25.8%
Danny Valencia 32 8 25.0%
Matt Carpenter 28 7 25.0%
Ian Kinsler 28 7 25.0%
Jose Ramirez 24 6 25.0%
Ryan Rua 24 6 25.0%
Trea Turner 20 5 25.0%
Curt Casali 20 5 25.0%
Nick Markakis 20 5 25.0%
Avisail Garcia 37 9 24.3%
Hanley Ramirez 33 8 24.2%
Jung Ho Kang 29 7 24.1%
DJ LeMahieu 25 6 24.0%
Aaron Hill 21 5 23.8%
Yunel Escobar 21 5 23.8%
Khris Davis 38 9 23.7%
Adrian Gonzalez 34 8 23.5%
Mitch Moreland 30 7 23.3%
Martin Prado 30 7 23.3%
Bryce Harper 26 6 23.1%
Adam Duvall 44 10 22.7%
Brandon Phillips 36 8 22.2%
Wilson Ramos 27 6 22.2%
Marcus Semien 27 6 22.2%
Josh Harrison 27 6 22.2%
Seth Smith 23 5 21.7%
Franklin Gutierrez 23 5 21.7%
Sean Rodriguez 23 5 21.7%
Nelson Cruz 42 9 21.4%
Denard Span 28 6 21.4%
Lorenzo Cain 28 6 21.4%
Jordy Mercer 33 7 21.2%
Aledmys Diaz 24 5 20.8%
Joe Mauer 29 6 20.7%
Mike Trout 39 8 20.5%
Brandon Belt 39 8 20.5%
Kevin Kiermaier 20 4 20.0%
Troy Tulowitzki 46 9 19.6%
Josh Donaldson 52 10 19.2%
Carlos Correa 42 8 19.0%
Nick Hundley 21 4 19.0%
Chris Iannetta 21 4 19.0%
Ryan Raburn 27 5 18.5%
Francisco Lindor 39 7 17.9%
Mookie Betts 28 5 17.9%
Andrew McCutchen 40 7 17.5%
Jose Bautista 23 4 17.4%
Carlos Santana 29 5 17.2%
Victor Martinez 35 6 17.1%
Albert Pujols 42 7 16.7%
Wilmer Flores 24 4 16.7%
Chris Carter 49 8 16.3%
Kris Bryant 43 7 16.3%
Edwin Encarnacion 52 8 15.4%
Miguel Cabrera 33 5 15.2%
Travis d'Arnaud 20 3 15.0%
David Freese 28 4 14.3%
Jedd Gyorko 29 4 13.8%
Dexter Fowler 22 3 13.6%
Wil Myers 32 4 12.5%
J.J. Hardy 26 3 11.5%
Buster Posey 35 4 11.4%
Hunter Pence 46 5 10.9%
Mike Napoli 28 3 10.7%
Hyun Soo Kim 20 2 10.0%
Andrelton Simmons 20 2 10.0%
Russell Martin 33 3 9.1%
Paul Goldschmidt 31 1 3.2%
Minimum 20 Balls in Dirt Faced Data via Baseball Savant

The sample size is a little bit bigger here because a pitcher is much more likely to bury one when they are ahead in the count. Since this is the most likely situation to see a ball in the dirt, a lot of the names at the top of this list mirror the names at the top of the overall leaderboard.

Seeing a great player like Adam Eaton with a 75 percent whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate when behind in the count is interesting. According to PITCHf/x, in 2016 he did swing at pitches outside of the zone 2.6 percent more than league average, but that’s hardly an enormous difference. His swing rates in general were right in line with the rest of the league. Apparently his Achilles’ heel was chasing a pitch in the dirt when behind.

WH/BD % Leaderboard: 0-2 Count

Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Carlos Beltran 15 12 80.0%
Brock Holt 10 8 80.0%
Evan Gattis 15 11 73.3%
Adam Eaton 14 10 71.4%
Freddy Galvis 10 7 70.0%
Chris Davis 10 7 70.0%
Yasmani Grandal 15 10 66.7%
Paulo Orlando 14 9 64.3%
Gerardo Parra 12 7 58.3%
Dioner Navarro 12 7 58.3%
Hernan Perez 12 7 58.3%
Adam Jones 20 11 55.0%
Kendrys Morales 13 7 53.8%
Ian Desmond 15 8 53.3%
Kole Calhoun 15 8 53.3%
Yoenis Cespedes 14 7 50.0%
Jake Lamb 14 7 50.0%
Chris Johnson 12 6 50.0%
Randal Grichuk 12 6 50.0%
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 10 5 50.0%
Chris Owings 10 5 50.0%
Nick Castellanos 10 5 50.0%
Charlie Blackmon 10 5 50.0%
Carlos Gomez 10 5 50.0%
Erick Aybar 10 5 50.0%
Brandon Phillips 10 5 50.0%
Yadier Molina 10 5 50.0%
Brian Dozier 13 6 46.2%
Howie Kendrick 11 5 45.5%
Nomar Mazara 11 5 45.5%
Matt Holliday 11 5 45.5%
Jose Abreu 28 12 42.9%
Mark Trumbo 21 9 42.9%
Starlin Castro 14 6 42.9%
Adrian Gonzalez 14 6 42.9%
Xander Bogaerts 14 6 42.9%
Anthony Rizzo 12 5 41.7%
Manny Machado 12 5 41.7%
Javier Baez 17 7 41.2%
Yasmany Tomas 15 6 40.0%
Tyler Saladino 10 4 40.0%
Scooter Gennett 10 4 40.0%
Asdrubal Cabrera 10 4 40.0%
Giancarlo Stanton 10 4 40.0%
Stephen Piscotty 10 4 40.0%
Cheslor Cuthbert 10 4 40.0%
Ben Zobrist 10 4 40.0%
Adrian Beltre 10 4 40.0%
Brandon Moss 10 4 40.0%
Chase Headley 13 5 38.5%
Khris Davis 13 5 38.5%
Adam Duvall 18 6 33.3%
Rougned Odor 15 5 33.3%
Alexei Ramirez 12 4 33.3%
C.J. Cron 12 4 33.3%
Ryan Zimmerman 12 4 33.3%
Robinson Cano 12 4 33.3%
Kris Bryant 12 4 33.3%
Brandon Crawford 19 6 31.6%
Joc Pederson 16 5 31.3%
Freddie Freeman 13 4 30.8%
Nelson Cruz 13 4 30.8%
Justin Turner 13 4 30.8%
Todd Frazier 10 3 30.0%
Matt Carpenter 10 3 30.0%
Gary Sanchez 10 3 30.0%
Ender Inciarte 10 3 30.0%
Ryan Schimpf 10 3 30.0%
Yangervis Solarte 10 3 30.0%
Maikel Franco 17 5 29.4%
Matt Kemp 24 7 29.2%
Troy Tulowitzki 14 4 28.6%
Danny Valencia 14 4 28.6%
Mitch Moreland 11 3 27.3%
Adonis Garcia 16 4 25.0%
Nolan Arenado 12 3 25.0%
Hanley Ramirez 12 3 25.0%
Marcell Ozuna 12 3 25.0%
Miguel Cabrera 13 3 23.1%
George Springer 13 3 23.1%
Leonys Martin 13 3 23.1%
Jedd Gyorko 13 3 23.1%
Travis Shaw 15 3 20.0%
Nick Hundley 10 2 20.0%
Josh Donaldson 10 2 20.0%
Aledmys Diaz 11 2 18.2%
Martin Prado 11 2 18.2%
Andrew McCutchen 12 2 16.7%
J.D. Martinez 12 2 16.7%
Albert Pujols 14 2 14.3%
Chris Carter 15 2 13.3%
Lorenzo Cain 10 1 10.0%
Buster Posey 11 1 9.1%
Edwin Encarnacion 13 1 7.7%
Hunter Pence 16 1 6.3%
Minimum 10 Balls in Dirt Faced Data via Baseball Savant

Taking behind in the count even further to behind 0-2, we see Eaton is still near the top, but it’s grizzled veteran Carlos Beltran and utility-man Brock Holt who were most vulnerable to the ball in the dirt with their backs against the wall. They both swung and missed 80 percent of the time.

Hunter Pence was the least likely to bite in this situation as he swung just once in 16 opportunities for a league best 6.3 percent whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate when down 0-2. As if we needed more evidence that Pence is not of this world.

Here’s a breakdown of the worst whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate by pitch type.

WH/BD %: Worst By Pitch Type

Player Pitch Type Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs Whiffs/Balls in Dirt %
Player Pitch Type Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs Whiffs/Balls in Dirt %
Freddy Galvis Curveball/Knuckle-curve 29 26 89.7%
Tyler Naquin Slider 11 8 72.7%
CJ Cron Changeup 12 7 58.3%
Lorenzo Cain Fastballs (FF, FT, FC, SI) 16 6 37.5%
Kendrys Morales Splitter 10 2 20.0%
Minimum 10 Balls in Dirt Faced Data via Baseball Savant

You’ll notice that except for the curveball, most the sample sizes are especially small. It makes sense, a curveball lends itself to being buried in the dirt far more easily than any other pitch type. With the splitter there were only two players who saw more than 10 pitches in the dirt — Josh Donaldson being the other — so it’s a leaderboard that relies heavily on circumstance, opponents, and pitch selection.

Since curveballs are the most meaty of all the pitch types here’s a further breakdown of just that pitch type.

WH/BD % Leaderboard: Curveballs

Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Player Total Pitches in Dirt Whiffs WH/BD %
Freddy Galvis 29 26 89.7%
Gerardo Parra 13 10 76.9%
Tyler Naquin 13 10 76.9%
Adam Lind 26 19 73.1%
Adam Eaton 29 21 72.4%
Byron Buxton 17 12 70.6%
Eddie Rosario 16 11 68.8%
Corey Dickerson 18 12 66.7%
Scooter Gennett 23 15 65.2%
Lonnie Chisenhall 20 13 65.0%
Andrew Romine 11 7 63.6%
Sandy Leon 13 8 61.5%
Derek Dietrich 13 8 61.5%
Chris Johnson 13 8 61.5%
Colby Rasmus 18 11 61.1%
Nick Castellanos 18 11 61.1%
Carlos Gonzalez 25 15 60.0%
Tim Anderson 15 9 60.0%
Matt Adams 10 6 60.0%
Jed Lowrie 10 6 60.0%
Luis Sardinas 10 6 60.0%
Hank Conger 10 6 60.0%
Jake Lamb 22 13 59.1%
Adam Jones 39 23 59.0%
Peter Bourjos 12 7 58.3%
Gregory Polanco 26 15 57.7%
Jason Kipnis 21 12 57.1%
Jimmy Paredes 14 8 57.1%
Odubel Herrera 16 9 56.3%
Alejandro De Aza 16 9 56.3%
Salvador Perez 16 9 56.3%
Rajai Davis 20 11 55.0%
Curtis Granderson 22 12 54.5%
Kolten Wong 11 6 54.5%
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 11 6 54.5%
Corey Seager 24 13 54.2%
Ryon Healy 13 7 53.8%
Hernan Perez 13 7 53.8%
Ian Desmond 13 7 53.8%
Yunel Escobar 13 7 53.8%
Javier Baez 28 15 53.6%
Phil Gosselin 15 8 53.3%
Justin Morneau 15 8 53.3%
James McCann 15 8 53.3%
Paulo Orlando 19 10 52.6%
Chris Davis 23 12 52.2%
Yasmani Grandal 33 17 51.5%
Jose Abreu 41 21 51.2%
Nomar Mazara 24 12 50.0%
Trevor Story 22 11 50.0%
Pedro Alvarez 20 10 50.0%
Jose Altuve 16 8 50.0%
Erick Aybar 16 8 50.0%
Ender Inciarte 14 7 50.0%
Whit Merrifield 14 7 50.0%
Alex Bregman 12 6 50.0%
Jonathan Lucroy 12 6 50.0%
Miguel Rojas 10 5 50.0%
Enrique Hernandez 10 5 50.0%
Christian Bethancourt 10 5 50.0%
Ichiro Suzuki 10 5 50.0%
Robinson Cano 37 18 48.6%
Brandon Moss 25 12 48.0%
Melky Cabrera 23 11 47.8%
Dioner Navarro 21 10 47.6%
Brad Miller 21 10 47.6%
Giancarlo Stanton 17 8 47.1%
Coco Crisp 17 8 47.1%
Starlin Castro 32 15 46.9%
Tucker Barnhart 15 7 46.7%
Brock Holt 13 6 46.2%
Brett Lawrie 24 11 45.8%
Maikel Franco 24 11 45.8%
Carlos Gomez 22 10 45.5%
Ji-Man Choi 11 5 45.5%
Abraham Almonte 11 5 45.5%
Chase d'Arnaud 20 9 45.0%
Jonathan Schoop 18 8 44.4%
Prince Fielder 18 8 44.4%
Mark Reynolds 16 7 43.8%
Eduardo Nunez 16 7 43.8%
Tyler Saladino 16 7 43.8%
Alex Gordon 16 7 43.8%
Kendrys Morales 39 17 43.6%
Max Kepler 14 6 42.9%
Stephen Vogt 14 6 42.9%
Kelly Johnson 14 6 42.9%
Alexei Ramirez 19 8 42.1%
Brandon Drury 19 8 42.1%
Justin Smoak 19 8 42.1%
Howie Kendrick 12 5 41.7%
DJ LeMahieu 12 5 41.7%
Steven Souza Jr. 12 5 41.7%
Jonathan Villar 17 7 41.2%
Daniel Murphy 22 9 40.9%
Kole Calhoun 32 13 40.6%
Welington Castillo 15 6 40.0%
Derek Norris 15 6 40.0%
Jeff Francoeur 15 6 40.0%
Bobby Wilson 10 4 40.0%
Bruce Maxwell 10 4 40.0%
Yan Gomes 10 4 40.0%
Robbie Grossman 10 4 40.0%
Jacoby Ellsbury 23 9 39.1%
Yoenis Cespedes 23 9 39.1%
Jackie Bradley Jr. 18 7 38.9%
Brett Wallace 13 5 38.5%
Starling Marte 13 5 38.5%
Jon Jay 13 5 38.5%
Adeiny Hechavarria 13 5 38.5%
Conor Gillaspie 13 5 38.5%
Kris Bryant 21 8 38.1%
Evan Gattis 21 8 38.1%
Danny Espinosa 29 11 37.9%
Marwin Gonzalez 24 9 37.5%
Todd Frazier 24 9 37.5%
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 24 9 37.5%
Chris Owings 24 9 37.5%
Ryan Schimpf 16 6 37.5%
Devon Travis 16 6 37.5%
Freddie Freeman 19 7 36.8%
Marcell Ozuna 22 8 36.4%
Juan Centeno 11 4 36.4%
A.J. Pierzynski 11 4 36.4%
Eugenio Suarez 25 9 36.0%
Leonys Martin 25 9 36.0%
Ryan Braun 25 9 36.0%
Nelson Cruz 31 11 35.5%
Jedd Gyorko 17 6 35.3%
Danny Valencia 26 9 34.6%
Travis Shaw 26 9 34.6%
Mark Trumbo 32 11 34.4%
J.D. Martinez 35 12 34.3%
Justin Upton 30 10 33.3%
Carlos Correa 30 10 33.3%
Bryce Harper 21 7 33.3%
Logan Forsythe 15 5 33.3%
Nick Hundley 15 5 33.3%
Jason Castro 15 5 33.3%
Daniel Descalso 15 5 33.3%
Adam Rosales 12 4 33.3%
Yasmany Tomas 37 12 32.4%
Jay Bruce 28 9 32.1%
Nick Markakis 25 8 32.0%
Chris Carter 25 8 32.0%
Christian Yelich 22 7 31.8%
Avisail Garcia 22 7 31.8%
Logan Morrison 16 5 31.3%
Keon Broxton 13 4 30.8%
Hunter Pence 30 9 30.0%
Brian Dozier 20 6 30.0%
Alcides Escobar 20 6 30.0%
Gordon Beckham 10 3 30.0%
Cameron Rupp 10 3 30.0%
Gregor Blanco 10 3 30.0%
Nolan Arenado 27 8 29.6%
Rougned Odor 27 8 29.6%
Xander Bogaerts 34 10 29.4%
Randal Grichuk 17 5 29.4%
Chase Headley 24 7 29.2%
Carlos Beltran 24 7 29.2%
Eric Hosmer 28 8 28.6%
Evan Longoria 28 8 28.6%
Adrian Beltre 21 6 28.6%
Cheslor Cuthbert 14 4 28.6%
Brian McCann 14 4 28.6%
Brandon Crawford 39 11 28.2%
Mike Trout 32 9 28.1%
Stephen Piscotty 25 7 28.0%
Cesar Hernandez 18 5 27.8%
David Ortiz 18 5 27.8%
Jayson Werth 22 6 27.3%
Adam Duvall 22 6 27.3%
Jorge Polanco 11 3 27.3%
Yadier Molina 11 3 27.3%
Matt Holliday 11 3 27.3%
Shawn O'Malley 11 3 27.3%
Troy Tulowitzki 26 7 26.9%
Manny Machado 30 8 26.7%
Neil Walker 15 4 26.7%
Hanley Ramirez 15 4 26.7%
Chris Coghlan 15 4 26.7%
Jean Segura 15 4 26.7%
Ketel Marte 15 4 26.7%
Kevin Pillar 15 4 26.7%
Jose Ramirez 15 4 26.7%
David Freese 15 4 26.7%
Jace Peterson 15 4 26.7%
Denard Span 15 4 26.7%
Wilson Ramos 19 5 26.3%
Matt Kemp 31 8 25.8%
Anthony Rizzo 24 6 25.0%
Josh Reddick 24 6 25.0%
Addison Russell 20 5 25.0%
Jung Ho Kang 16 4 25.0%
Mike Zunino 16 4 25.0%
Ryan Raburn 12 3 25.0%
Orlando Arcia 12 3 25.0%
Tony Wolters 12 3 25.0%
Tyler Flowers 25 6 24.0%
Adonis Garcia 21 5 23.8%
Curt Casali 21 5 23.8%
Hyun Soo Kim 21 5 23.8%
Michael Saunders 21 5 23.8%
Matt Duffy 17 4 23.5%
Dae-Ho Lee 17 4 23.5%
Matt Carpenter 17 4 23.5%
Michael Bourn 17 4 23.5%
Joe Mauer 17 4 23.5%
Anthony Rendon 17 4 23.5%
Martin Prado 17 4 23.5%
Adrian Gonzalez 22 5 22.7%
Lorenzo Cain 18 4 22.2%
Mark Teixeira 18 4 22.2%
Joc Pederson 23 5 21.7%
Dustin Pedroia 23 5 21.7%
Mikie Mahtook 14 3 21.4%
Joe Panik 14 3 21.4%
Marcus Semien 19 4 21.1%
Ryan Zimmerman 19 4 21.1%
Miguel Cabrera 19 4 21.1%
Justin Turner 19 4 21.1%
George Springer 24 5 20.8%
Mookie Betts 29 6 20.7%
Asdrubal Cabrera 29 6 20.7%
Kyle Seager 39 8 20.5%
Michael Conforto 20 4 20.0%
Yangervis Solarte 20 4 20.0%
Khris Davis 20 4 20.0%
Jarrett Parker 15 3 20.0%
Andrelton Simmons 15 3 20.0%
Mike Napoli 15 3 20.0%
Travis Jankowski 15 3 20.0%
Chase Utley 10 2 20.0%
Cristhian Adames 10 2 20.0%
Byungho Park 10 2 20.0%
Jose Iglesias 10 2 20.0%
Brandon Belt 46 9 19.6%
Edwin Encarnacion 31 6 19.4%
Miguel Sano 37 7 18.9%
Seth Smith 16 3 18.8%
Victor Martinez 27 5 18.5%
Mitch Moreland 27 5 18.5%
Brett Gardner 27 5 18.5%
Wil Myers 22 4 18.2%
Joey Votto 11 2 18.2%
Oswaldo Arcia 11 2 18.2%
Didi Gregorius 11 2 18.2%
Chris Gimenez 11 2 18.2%
Gary Sanchez 17 3 17.6%
Sean Rodriguez 17 3 17.6%
Ben Zobrist 24 4 16.7%
John Jaso 18 3 16.7%
Brandon Phillips 18 3 16.7%
Kevin Kiermaier 12 2 16.7%
Ryan Howard 12 2 16.7%
Jason Heyward 12 2 16.7%
Alex Avila 12 2 16.7%
Andrew McCutchen 25 4 16.0%
Jefry Marte 19 3 15.8%
Aaron Altherr 13 2 15.4%
Travis d'Arnaud 13 2 15.4%
Melvin Upton Jr. 13 2 15.4%
Aaron Hill 13 2 15.4%
C.J. Cron 13 2 15.4%
Josh Donaldson 27 4 14.8%
Yonder Alonso 21 3 14.3%
Carlos Santana 21 3 14.3%
Nolan Reimold 14 2 14.3%
Francisco Cervelli 15 2 13.3%
Francisco Lindor 33 4 12.1%
Dexter Fowler 17 2 11.8%
J.T. Realmuto 17 2 11.8%
Albert Pujols 36 4 11.1%
Ezequiel Carrera 10 1 10.0%
Wilmer Flores 10 1 10.0%
Mitch Haniger 10 1 10.0%
Jose Bautista 21 2 9.5%
Paul Goldschmidt 21 2 9.5%
Russell Martin 36 3 8.3%
Angel Pagan 12 1 8.3%
Jurickson Profar 12 1 8.3%
Jordy Mercer 27 2 7.4%
Chris Iannetta 14 1 7.1%
Aledmys Diaz 16 1 6.3%
Matt Joyce 16 1 6.3%
Buster Posey 19 0 0.0%
Jhonny Peralta 12 0 0.0%
J.J. Hardy 11 0 0.0%
Jorge Soler 11 0 0.0%
Minimum 10 Balls in Dirt Faced Data via Baseball Savant

Again we see more of the same gentlemen from the top of the overall leaderboard, but Freddy Galvis really sets himself apart in this particular case. In 2016 Galvis saw 29 curveballs in the dirt and swung at 26 of them. There’s been a lot of small sample size prefacing in this article and while I won’t claim that it doesn’t still apply here, an 89.7 percent whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate on 29 curveballs seems significant. At the very least Galvis should see a steady diet of curves in the dirt until he proves it’s a pitch he can lay off.

On the other end of the spectrum, special acknowledgement must go out to Buster Posey, Jhonny Peralta, JJ Hardy, and Jorge Soler for not offering even once at a curveball in the dirt last season. That’s damn impressive.


Balls in the dirt are such a rarity overall that the ability to consistently not offer at them appears not to be a make or break skill. Plenty of baseball’s top offensive threats find themselves with a high whiffs-to-balls-in-dirt rate relative to the rest of the league. Still, as Paul Goldschmidt will attest, it doesn’t hurt to be able to spit on those pitches.

. . .

Chris Anders is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @mrchrisanders.