Pizza Cutter published a classic article that finds when certain statistics stabilize. These numbers are a good benchmark to finding when we have a large enough sample size to start comparing data. Let’s look at each of these statistics for the Rays as they stabilize.
Next up for hitters is contact percentage, which stabilizes at 100 plate appearances. Contact percentage measures “the total percentage of contact made when stealing at all pitches (via Fangraphs).” A majority of the hitters have passed this threshold, so it is a good time to take a look at the statistic.
|Batter||PA||2011 Contact %||Career Contact %||Difference|
There are quite a few large differences here. Evan Longoria obviously sticks out. He is making 8% more contact this year, while swinging about 2.5% fewer times. It appears that he has changed his approach to be much more judicious with his bat. This has led to more walks and fewer strikeouts, although his home run rate is down severely as well.
On the flip side, Ben Zobrist and Johnny Damon have been making much less contact than they previously have. Zobrist has seen the opposite effect as Longoria: fewer walks, more strikeouts and a better home run rate. Damon, however, has seen his strikeout rate go down along with a lower contact rate. The disconcerting thing with Damon is his walk rate has dropped down to about 5%, almost half of his career norm.