Following up on yesterday’s look at 2 strike hitting, now we’ll look at what individual Tigers did in on the brink of striking out.
The following table lists the Tigers hitters performance in all situations after the plate appearance reaches 2 strikes
The table is sorted by K-rate and lo and behold Neifi Perez comes out on top. There’s no surprise to see Polanco high on the list because he just doesn’t strike out. He also benefited from a pretty high BABIP. As did Carlos Guillen who had by far the best results.
Now if I understand Jim Leyland correctly though, he’s not looking to have people shorten up in all situations. Just those times when the ball really needs to get put in play. Like maybe when there are runners on base.
Placido Polanco posts and impressive line here with a pretty hefty BABIP. His bat handling ability is evident with a low strike out rate, and a tiny walk rate. Sean Casey was excellent in these situations when the ball was in play, but his strike out rate doesn’t really differ substantially.
On the other end – in a small sample – Brent Clevlen struck out 2/3 of the time.
The ultimate get it in play situation though is runners in scoring position with less than 2 outs.
It’s easy to see why Placido Polanco got his rep for coming up with the big hit last year. His BABIP of .500 screams luck, but it’s easier to be lucky when you get the ball in play. On the other hand, Sean Casey put the ball in play but had horrible luck with a .200 BABIP.
The most interesting element in this chart might be the increase in walks. Marcus Thames, Curtis Granderson, Brandon Inge, and Sean Casey all saw big increases in their walk rates in this situation. Part of this may be sample size issues as we move towards more granularity. Another possible explanation is guys being given the open base. But I doubt pitchers are being too delicate if they’ve already reached 2 strikes. Perhaps it’s on the pitchers who have it tougher in those situations. In any case, while the Tigers strike out rate doesn’t vary much, they do make less outs overall.
As for who hangs in there the longest, this last table shows the average number of pitches Tigers hitters see after that 2nd strike.
Among the regulars, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Chris Shelton, and Brandon Inge all had comparable staying power. Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco wrapped up their at-bats quickest after getting to 2 strikes – but as we saw above with very different results.
It will be interesting to see whether an emphasis on approach will translate to better results, or if the players are who they are.