Strikeouts Overrated Says Philly Inq. Winged Pigs Spotted...

Strikeouts Overrated Says Philly Inq. Winged Pigs Spotted...

Postby swishnicholson » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:07 am

Nice article from Todd Zolecki

"What counts in the game?" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel asked. "Runs scored. RBIs. On-base percentage. All that counts. Don't overlook the production. People are always going to criticize strikeouts, but production counts more than anything."


Baseball Prospectus looked at the relationship between teams' strikeout rates and run production from 1950 to 2002. It found there was no correlation between the two. It also found that a hitter's strikeout rate correlates positively to power, slugging percentage, and walk rate.


I give kudos to any general interest article that dares to use the word "correlates".
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Postby Uncle Milty » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:32 am

We should take a collection and send Zolecki a calculator and propeller beanie.
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Postby Wizlah » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:20 am

Wait, wait, wait. You mean if you talk to baseball players sensibly about stuff like this, they respond sensibly too?

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Postby mozartpc27 » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:27 am

The funny thing is, I didn't even read the article --- just the headline. Then I ran to my computer and logged on to this message board to watch hell freeze over.

Is there an anti-firejoemorgn.com we can notify?
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Postby Houshphandzadeh » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:32 am

Somewhat annoying that he had to throw this in the end:
Howard is a career .291 hitter. He has struck out 493 times in 1,461 career at-bats, which means he hits .439 when he puts the ball in play. If he could have cut his strikeouts from 199 to 175 last season, his average would have jumped from .268 to .289. He might have hit 50 homers instead of 47.

But I'll take what I can get. Already e-mailed it to a few people.
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Postby MarkdlV » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:37 am

Maybe with that $10 million, Howard can move out of his mother's basement.
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Postby Woody » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:44 am

MarkdlV wrote:Maybe with that $10 million, Howard can move out of his mother's basement.


And, now that we know Zolecki is CALC, we know he lives in his mom's basement too
you sure do seem to have a lot of time on your hands to be on this forum? Do you have a job? Are you a shut-in?
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Postby td11 » Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:34 am

kind of funny how our manager likes OBP and the Reds' guy thinks OBP just shows how much you're "clogging up the bases."
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Postby Disco Stu » Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:14 pm

I sent Toodles and email...

Todd,

I liked most of your article regarding striking out and the last line is key.

"But it's overrated. Just like strikeouts."

However, I don't agree with this comment as it appears to be extremely simplistic in an overall well thought out argument that almost goes against the crux of your point.

"Howard is a career .291 hitter. He has struck out 493 times in 1,461 career at-bats, which means he hits .439 when he puts the ball in play. If he could have cut his strikeouts from 199 to 175 last season, his average would have jumped from .268 to .289. He might have hit 50 homers instead of 47."

The basic implication is that if Howard cut down on his strikeouts, everything else about his game would remain the same. Changing one variable and expecting the rest to remain constant is probably the least likely outcome. More likely is that Howard needs to strikeout in order to hit the 47 homeruns he hit. It's a risk reward situation.

For Howard to generate so much power, he has to take big cuts and guess on certain pitches being in certain locations. If all of the sudden he stopped doing that a bit to cut 24 strikeouts (which is close to 12% of his total) out he'd end up losing as much, if not more of his power and his patience, thus less walks. All of this is so intertwined that it is impossible to reduce one without sacrificing the good parts about him striking out.
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Postby Barry Jive » Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:23 pm

Jeez, give the guy a break; it was the last (read: least important) paragraph of something we've been dying to read from a Philly sportswriter. When you're a writer, all the negative criticism gets lumped together as one argument, and yours is going in the pile with the "OMG GET OUT OF YOUR MOTHER'S BASEMENT" e-mails.
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Postby phatj » Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:27 pm

Stu and I apparently share a brain. Here's what I sent to Zolecki:

I very much enjoyed your piece today about the Phillies and strikeouts. It's a very refreshing viewpoint from a mainstream sportswriter, where the old school view of K's seems to be very much still en vogue.

However, I have a quibble with this point you made about Howard:

"Howard is a career .291 hitter. He has struck out 493 times in 1,461 career at-bats, which means he hits .439 when he puts the ball in play. If he could have cut his strikeouts from 199 to 175 last season, his average would have jumped from .268 to .289. He might have hit 50 homers instead of 47."

The problem with this gets back to another point you made earlier in the piece: "a hitter's strikeout rate correlates positively to power, slugging percentage, and walk rate." What this means is that Howard may not be able to reduce his strikeout rate without affecting those other things. Ryan swings as hard as he can pretty much whenever he swings, which explains both his very high strikeout rate (if he misjudges the pitch, it's almost impossible to adjust so he swings and misses a LOT), and his very high batting average on balls in play (when he makes contact, he tends to hit either screaming line drives that get past fielders before they have a chance to react or soaring flies that land deep in the seats). If he were to try to cut down on strikeouts, he'd have to slow down his bat. He might be able to get his strikeouts down, and might possibly be able to increase his average through putting more balls in place, but I think his BABIP would actually decrease because he wouldn't be hitting the ball as hard, and his slugging percentage would almost certainly drop.

There is a way that Howard might be able to reduce his strikeouts and improve his overall production -- work on better pitch recognition. If he can learn to lay off bad pitches (like the low-and-away slider that is his nemesis) while keeping his fast bat, he could improve from a mere beast to superhuman. But this of course is easier said than done.

Anyway, thanks again for the good column.

Sincerely,
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Postby meatball » Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:17 pm

I sent him a nice email, too, though not nearly as involved. We should definitely positively reward this type of journalistic behavior.
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Postby Wizlah » Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:19 pm

Boy are ye all going to look foolish when he e-mails back 'PSYCHE! PRDUCTV OUTS ROOLZ, SUCKAS'
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Postby Disco Stu » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:03 pm

Todd is by far, the classiest of all the Philly writers. I mean, he is on our side (so to speak) we criticize him (which should piss him off) and he writes this back...

Todd Z wrote:Good points, definitely. I guess I made that point because Howard and Rollins brought that up on their own. It's interesting fodder, but I think the focus of the story is pretty clear: strikeouts aren't the devil. At least I think they're not.

Thanks for the e-mail,
Todd


I responded:

me wrote:Thanks for the reply. I definitely wasn't trying to criticize. I know you definitely lean more towards the way we think than most Philly reporters and we all appreciate all the analysis that you do.


Just to let him know we love him.
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Postby phatj » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:19 pm

Disco Stu wrote:I responded:

me wrote:Thanks for the reply. I definitely wasn't trying to criticize. I know you definitely lean more towards the way we think than most Philly reporters and we all appreciate all the analysis that you do.


Just to let him know we love him.

Did you tell him who "we" is?
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Postby MarkdlV » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:19 pm

Too bad he can't just anonymously post all the angry emails he got explaining to him how you can't get on base if you don't make contact or anything can happen to a ball in play.
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Postby phuturephillies » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:22 pm

I sent him an email about the Phillies draft policies, and he gave a courteous reply and said he wanted to write more about it in the spring. He's a nice guy.
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Postby smitty » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:38 pm

More important than Zolecki writing about this is the fact that he is getting his information from guys in the Phillies organization (Manuel and guys like that).

The bad news would be if Gillick, Green, Amaro and company think Manuel is a crazy old coot and can't wait to get rid of him and his new fangled ideas.
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Postby Phan In Phlorida » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:40 pm

Howard is a career .291 hitter. He has struck out 493 times in 1,461 career at-bats, which means he hits .439 when he puts the ball in play. If he could have cut his strikeouts from 199 to 175 last season, his average would have jumped from .268 to .289. He might have hit 50 homers instead of 47.



Stu and phatj made valid points. Another one is an assumption that there are enough 3rd strike pitches that a batter can handle reliably, whereas "making contact" can effect BA. Most strikeouts in the pro ranks come on "pitcher" pitches... paints the corner, "fools" or "out foxes" the batter, etc. The type of pitch that if the batter did make contact, it'll be a weak grounder, pop up, or lazy fly ball.
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Postby Woody » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:49 pm

Good point. Not all strikes are created equal
you sure do seem to have a lot of time on your hands to be on this forum? Do you have a job? Are you a shut-in?
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