Russell Carlton (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.
The career statistics I use are those that exclude 2011 numbers. I do this so the current numbers don’t skew the historical numbers in any way.
Next up for hitters is strikeout rate, line drive rate and pitches per plate appearance, all of which stabilize at 150 plate appearances.
First, I’ll look at strikeout percentage, which is defined as strikeouts per at bat.
|Batter||PA||2011 K%||Career K%||Difference|
Overall, batters are striking out less often this year, which is probably a good thing. Sam Fuld and John Jaso are both striking out a little bit more, but both continue to have extremely low strikeout rates despite this.
Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria are both striking out much less often than their career rates. Both are making more contact this year and we will see next that they are hitting more line drives as well.
Next up is line drive rate, which is defined as line drives per plate appearance.
|Batter||PA||2011 LD/PA||Career LD/PA||Difference|
The Rays are also hitting line drives more often this year. The two notable ones are Joyce and Casey Kotchman. This also shows up in their batting averages: Joyce’s is currently .312 versus a career mark of .264. Kotchman is sitting at a .341 batting average this season, even though his career average is .265.
However, Johnny Damon and Reid Brignac’s line drive rates are down. The decreased line drive rate along with the decreased contact rate and increased swing rate for Johnny Damon does not bode well for him. Perhaps the aging process has caught up with him a bit more this year.
Finally, we have pitches per plate appearance, which is…pitches seen per plate appearance.
|Batter||PA||2011 P/PA||Career P/PA
Sam Fuld has been seeing a lot fewer pitches this year than usual. Not surprisingly, his walk rate is down by quite a bit as well. Sean Rodriguez and Kotchman have been seeing more pitches per plate appearance and equally as surprising, both have been walking more this year.
This does show again that as a team, the Rays are being more aggressive at the plate this year.