Update on Pods's aggressive approach and his (apparently) sustainable BABIP overperformance

Despite the hot start, Podsednik's wOBA has regressed toward what seems to be his true ability (.321 wOBA, Zips proj .322).  An early-season post looked at his plate discipline in 2010 (60 PA at the time), in 2009 (.338 wOBA), and his prior seasons (.310 wOBA).  This post follows up on what may have changed since.

First, swinging at pitches in/out of the strike zone:

Season O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing%
Pre-2009 14.7 57.0 36.9
2009 22.9 54.6 39.0
early 2010 23.4 47.6 36.2


What stood out to me was his MUCH higher % of balls offered-at outside of the strike zone in 2009 and 2010.  Prior to 2009, his highest O-Swing% was 18.6.  As this season has progressed, his O-Swing% has actually gone UP, to 25.2.  Z-Swing% has increased to be closer to his historical numbers, currently at 51.0  Not much change in Swing %, currently at 38.2.

What I said last time: In most cases, you would think [that with a drastically higher O-Swing%] "Oh no, he's chasing more [bad] pitches; his contact rate is going to be worse, his K's are going up, and his BB rate is going down".  But we know that, on the contrary, Pods had a good hitting year in 2009--so what actually happened?  His contact rates tell a big part of the story:

Season O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact%
Pre-2009 65.9 91.0 86.4
2009 80.9 95.3 91.1
early 2010 86.4 94.0 91.7


His contact rates for this half-season have started to look more like his 2009 numbers, currently at 80.7, 96.3, and 91.2. Still, the aggressive approach from 2009 and 2010, despite swinging at way more pitches outside the strike zone, has improved his overall contact rates.   

And as I mentioned last time, the higher swinging % didn't increase his K rate, but actually decreased it:

Season BB% K%
Pre-2009 8.5 16.9
2009 6.6 13.8
early 2010 13.3 12.2


Although, now that there have been more PAs in 2010, his K rate has climbed closer to its pre-2009 levels, at 15.5%, and his walk rate has stabilized between the 2009 and pre-2009 levels at 7.1%. (Side note: I mentioned in the previous post that the K and BB rates had not yet reached the ~150 PA mark desired for early-season stability, and true to form they have changed markedly since then.)

Pods's aggressive plate approach correlated with success (relatively speaking) in 2009, and could be argued to be correlating with success in 2010 (.321 wOBA vs pre-2009 of .310).  He is still fighting a lower BB rate, which is to some extent offset by his lower K rate.  

In the last post, the BABIP had very few PAs to try to stabilize, as did Pods's LD%.  The bad news at that time was that in 2009, his LD% went way down:

Season BABIP LD%
2008 0.299 24.4
2009 0.341 17.6
early-2010 0.512 27.5


Note from last time: One thing to take into consideration is that he was on the Rockies in 2008, so batted ball data can be skewed (park factors, NL/AL factors), but it's not like his HR rate was way up.  He did only have 181 ML PAs in 2008, though.

Now with a half-season of 2010 data, Pods has a LD% of 18.7 (slightly higher than 2009) and BABIP of .341.  The BABIP for 2010 so far is exactly the same as 2009, and still WAY above league average; I don't quite know what to make of that--sure Pods is fast, but he's not Ichiro-fast.

In the title, the reference to this high BABIP being sustainable was a bit of a joke; it's expected to regress and should regress somewhat, but 960+ PAs in 2009/2010 say it's not all a fluke. 

(also, yes NYRoyal, Pods is not very good (or worse), but I'm just looking at his plate approach, not justifying whether or not he should be playing LF for the Royals.)

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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