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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Astros slugger Chris Carter: The most 2014 player of 2014

What’s happening is that with strikeouts at historically unprecedented levels, even for non-power hitters, there are fewer productive outs that move runners along and provide chances for runs to be driven home without putting a ball over the fence. That keeps control of the game in the hands of the sluggers, even as raw home run totals drop.

There are those who might say that this is a troubling trend, that by relying more on brute force, baseball loses key strategic elements, and the artistry of both two-strike hitting and making those productive outs. Phooey to that. When you go to the ballpark, are you looking for the game to be decided by a groundout to second base, or by a sweet 450-foot dinger? Furthermore, do you want to see a starting pitcher grind his way through seven innings of balls sprayed all over the place, or do you want to see him mow down the other lineup for 11 strikeouts before turning it over to a couple of flame-throwing relievers?

As far as dramatic value goes, a proportionally high-homer environment with lots of strikeouts and low overall scoring, keeping games close, is about as high as baseball can get.

Jacob Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:57 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: home runs

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:35 AM (#4776094)
Whoa, Carter's had a monster 2nd "half." 205/281/465 in the first half, 298/349/649 in the 2nd half. That's not so much "welcome to the new baseball world" as it is "I'll be damned, Sosa ca. 1999 produces a lot of runs in any environment."
   2. Astroenteritis Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:08 AM (#4776160)
Carter really has had two completely different seasons. Before his hot streak, the Astros gave him a few games off to "work on" some things. Whatever changes, whether swing, approach, or whatever, he's been a different hitter.
   3. Bug Selig Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:59 AM (#4776201)
The term "productive out" is used twice - in the excerpt. If that's not enough to stop reading, what is?
   4. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4776212)
Carter really has had two completely different seasons. Before his hot streak, the Astros gave him a few games off to "work on" some things. Whatever changes, whether swing, approach, or whatever, he's been a different hitter.


His second half looks like he's been channeling his 22 year old self (.337/.435/.576 in AA)
In the minors he's had extreme BABIP variability, which hasn't really shown up in the MLB yet...
   5. bobm Posted: August 21, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4776244)
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/on-the-surging-chris-carter/

August 13, 2014 [...]

The first factor is that Carter is chasing less as of late. [...]

there’s a discernable lack of flails at outside pitches. The Frisbee sliders are still getting swung at, but the borderline pitches on the outside are being left alone. On the season, he’s still swinging at more outside pitches than in 2013, but his recent approach seems to be helping him.

There has also been talk on Astros broadcasts about a swing tweak that Carter has been working on. Namely, that he’s trying to shorten his stroke. [...]

The camera angles add some difficulty, but the bat doesn’t seem wrapped around his head as much in the latter GIF, and it appears as if his full-arm extension comes a little later, as well. This could be part of what’s patching the holes in his swing.

According to BaseballSavant, Carter is seeing the same amount of pitches in the zone (36%) in his recent tear as he has all season.
   6. JAHV Posted: August 21, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4776310)
Furthermore, do you want to see a starting pitcher grind his way through seven innings of balls sprayed all over the place, or do you want to see him mow down the other lineup for 11 strikeouts before turning it over to a couple of flame-throwing relievers?


I'd much rather see the former than the latter. Strikeouts do not interest me.
   7. Danny Posted: August 21, 2014 at 11:54 AM (#4776311)
Productive outs are more valuable, relative to other outs, in lower run scoring environments.
   8. kthejoker Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4776425)
He has definitely shortened his swing and reduced his head movement significantly from earlier in the year. Hopefully it takes.
   9. Rusty Priske Posted: August 21, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4776438)
When a pitcher is ON, strikeouts are the best part of baseball.
   10. The District Attorney Posted: August 21, 2014 at 02:38 PM (#4776466)
The term "productive out" is used twice - in the excerpt.
Sure, "used"... and then dismissed.

It is true that strikeouts are exciting, in the sense that when my team (the Mets) is on the field, I'm not actually rooting for someone to hit a long fly ball that Juan Lagares can then make a great catch on. I'm rooting for the pitcher to strike the guy out. That is, after all, the best possible outcome for the defense.

However, you can eat too much ice cream. If I got my wish and never got to see Lagares flash his glove, ultimately I wouldn't like that either.

I'd also harken back to what Bill James mentioned in his mailbag a little while back, about how the "narrative" of the game becomes less compelling once the starting pitcher is removed. Sure, Dwight Gooden struck out tons of batters, everyone got excited, the fans made a "K Corner" and hung up signs. But no one's tempted to hang up signs for Josh Edgin when he comes into the game in the 7th inning and strikes out the one guy he faces.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4776654)
Productive outs are more valuable, relative to other outs, in lower run scoring environments.

Is this true?

   12. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: August 21, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4776665)
Productive outs are more valuable, relative to other outs, in lower run scoring environments.

Is this true?


it would be more accurate to say that


Productive out are less damaging than other outs irrespective of run environment since by definition you gain a base or two with "productive" outs to go along with that out.

However,
Productive outs are less damaging in lower run scoring environments than the are in higher run scoring environments, because in lower run scoring environments you are less likely to have scored that guy from 1st base than you are in a high run scoring environment.

1900-1920, extreme deadball era, you had to get that runner to at least 2B, no one was gonna score from 1st because no one was gonna hit a double/triple/HR,and since the league batting average was .235, you weren't likely to get two consecutive hits to drive that guy in from 1b

1920+ then came Babe Ruth, and the league batting average went to .280, and everyone and his mother were hitting doubles and triples, suddenly scoring position was 1b, you didn't need to steal or hit and run or bunt guys over, because there was a good chance that someone was going to get an extra base hit or even string some hits together,and bunting or stealing was giving up and out and taking the bat out of someone's hand- so people basically stopped stealing and buntng etc.

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