Not only do the Pirates have some of the worst production in the league (lowest amount of runs, lowest on-base percentage, second-lowest batting average, etc.), but they also have terrible plate discipline. The Bucs swing at 48.7% pitches, which is highest in MLB. They swing at 33.8% of pitches outside the strike zone, and swing and miss at 10.2% of pitches, both of which are second-highest. Most of these poor stats are formed from one player: Clint Barmes.
Barmes swings at anything and everything. Here’s a look at his plate discipline compared to league averages:
O-Swing%: The percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone.
Z-Swing%: The percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone.
Swing%: The overall percentage of pitches a batter swings at.
O-Contact%: The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with outside the strike zone when swinging the bat.
Z-Contact%: The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging the bat.
Contact%: The overall percentage of a batter makes contact with when swinging the bat.
Zone%: The overall percentage of pitches a batter sees inside the strike zone.
F-Strike% – The percentage of first pitch strikes.
SwStr%: The percentage of total pitches a batter swings and misses on.
Clint swings at 46.5% of pitches outside of the strike zone; the league average is just below 30%. Overall, he swings at nearly 60% of all pitches he sees. He also sees first pitch strikes 66.5% of the time. The problem is that he cannot make contact. He swings and misses at over 13% of pitches; league average is below 9%. He makes contact with 75% of pitches, but league average is around 80%. For comparison, Alex Presley and Neil Walker make contact about 83% of the time. Not surprisingly, Pedro Alvarez only makes contact with 72% of pitches.
However, it was not always like this for Barmes. Check out his plate discipline since 2009:
As you can see, Barmes has had a much different approach at the plate this season.
– He’s swinging at a lot more pitches outside the strike zone
– Overall, he’s swinging at about 7% more pitches than he usually does
– He’s making contact with less pitches outside of the zone
– Overall, he’s made contact with about 5% less pitches
– He’s swinging and missing more frequently
All of this has resulted in a .193/.213/.304 hitter with 3 HR and 14 RBI.
After seeing this, Barmes’ struggles at the plate could be repaired. He simply needs better pitch recognition and a better ability lay off pitches. He’s swinging at far too many pitches outside the strike zone, but a 10-year MLB veteran should be able to fix that. Manager Clint Hurdle sat him out a few days to clear his mind, and it seemed to help a little bit; Barmes is hitting .300 (9 for 30) in June. Still, there’s a lot of improvement to be done, and the Pirates need Barmes to produce if they want to stay in the race.
Statistics from FanGraphs.