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   1. Joel W Posted: April 23, 2011 at 12:32 AM (#3806475)
It's the former. Hopefully Mike Emeigh lurks and describes it, but I think the two major things to focus on are contact rate AND iso slugging in prospects. You can do what Lars has done so far, which is trade the one for the other, but basically you're asking "how hard is the guy swinging, and can he hit it often enough when he's swinging hard?"

It's much easier to teach a guy who makes contact and swing hard to just swing less often, to narrow their strike zone. You're not changing their swing.
   2. Darren Posted: April 23, 2011 at 12:37 AM (#3806477)
Aren't K rates usually computed as a percentage of PAs?* I would think that would make the most sense as a player going up and taking a walk is having an AB where they're not striking out. In fact, since it seems harder to take BBs while keeping the K rate low, it seems especially unfair. Walks have value, and getting them requires the risk of striking out more. At the very least, it should count as much as a first-pitch groundout in the "didn't strike out" column.

For example, Lars K'ed 125 times in 564 PAs last year, or 23.5% of the time. He has K'ed 9 times in 67 PAs this year, or 13.4% of the time. That's a much bigger improvement than what's reflected in your chart above (though I agree with you that his lack of power is probably a big concern).

*I'm just now realizing that this is not how Fangraphs does it, which is pretty surprising to me. It seems like it would be a lot more useful because of the reasons above and it would be better aesthetically because it would have the same denominator as BB%.
   3. Darren Posted: April 23, 2011 at 12:43 AM (#3806484)
Reddick might make my point better. Looking at the chart above, you'd think he's striking out more often this year than last. In fact, he struck out 88 in 570 last year, 15.4%. He's K'ed 11.9% of his PA's this year. If he did that for 570 PA this year, he'd end up with 68 Ks--20 less than last year. All that's happened is that more of his non-K PAs this year are walks. That's a good thing, but by computing the stat this way, it looks like Reddick has taken a step backwards.
   4. Darren Posted: April 23, 2011 at 01:04 AM (#3806509)
Coyle may be the most extreme case. he's K'ed 14 times in 36 ABs. But he's also walked 15 times. So he's actually striking out 28% of the time (which still sucks, but not nearly as much).
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: April 23, 2011 at 01:42 AM (#3806572)
What I'm looking for, here, is contact ability. That's the key issue - can you make consistent contact? If minor league Ks are important for reason (a) above, it's a lack of ability to make contact that allows major league pitchers to beat you. If it's reason (b), and the issue is that good hitting with high Ks requires unsustainable on-contact numbers, then the on-contact demoninator is AB-K. Walks and hit-by-pitch, in either case, are not relevant outcomes. Walks actually may correlate with a lack of contact ability - the more often you swing and miss, the longer your at-bats and the greater the chance of a walk.
   6. Darren Posted: April 23, 2011 at 02:17 AM (#3806627)
Conversely, though, if you have trouble making contact, it's much harder to draw a walk.

I see your point, in general, but I think counting walks accounts better for how well guys can make contact, or rather, guys who have contact problems that may eat them up. I wonder what the numbers would say.
   7. John DiFool2 Posted: April 23, 2011 at 02:29 AM (#3806650)
With K's at an all-time high to begin with, this syndrome becomes even harder to overcome when they get to the majors.
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 23, 2011 at 02:45 AM (#3806678)
Hopefully Mike Emeigh lurks and describes it, but I think the two major things to focus on are contact rate AND iso slugging in prospects.

Yep. I've been making this argument for a number of years.

You ignore walks for minor league hitters a lot of the time because walks (in the minors, at any rate) are often an inverse function of the size of a hitter's contact zone. The guy that really opened my eyes to this was Jeremy Hermida, who I had a chance to watch for a full season at Carolina in 2005, when he drew 111 walks. Hermida limited himself to swinging at only those pitches that were within the area where he could make consistent contact, and passed up a lot of hittable pitches otherwise. He was able to get away with that in the minors because the pitchers aren't as consistent at hitting spots - but once he got to the majors pitchers found that they were able to get him out by throwing strikes that he just wouldn't try to touch until it was too late. Andy LaRoche was the same way in the minors.

Walks in the minors are not unimportant, but they are much less important than the frequency with which a batter makes contact, and what the batter does when he makes contact.

-- MWE
   9. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 23, 2011 at 02:53 AM (#3806701)
I wonder whether it’s easier for a guy with contact skills to learn to be selective, or for a guy with good pitch recognition to learn to make contact.

I think it's easier for a guy with contact skills to be successful without being selective, which in turn can lead to pitchers being more careful with him and give the appearance of an increase in selectivity.

-- MWE
   10. Mattbert Posted: April 23, 2011 at 10:51 AM (#3806982)
A key conclusion from a study published at and linked on the Newsblog earlier:
It appears as though the success rates for prospect development drop sharply when strikeout rates hit about 22%.
By that measure, it would appear the Sox have a number of young players who are teetering right around the margins of prospecthood.
   11. Mattbert Posted: April 23, 2011 at 10:54 AM (#3806983)
Mike: do you have something of a threshold for ISO above and below which you would consider a player a viable prospect or not? Or is it, like most of this stuff, highly circumstantial?
   12. NJ in NJ Posted: April 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM (#3807005)
Darren, what I've found over the years (and I apologize if I read it somewhere and didn't just get it from doing my spreadsheets) is that looking at Ks as a percentage of ABs does a much better job of weeding out the contact danger zone guys than does Ks as a percentage of PAs. Conversely, with pitchers, I think you want to look at Ks as a percentage of PAs rather than ABs.
   13. Darren Posted: April 23, 2011 at 03:40 PM (#3807114)
Anthony Rizzo in AAA:

.452 .507 .839
   14. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: April 23, 2011 at 05:08 PM (#3807187)
Excellent. Looks like Kelly and Fuentes are off to good starts also. Rizzo is a great story, I hope he becomes a star.
   15. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: April 23, 2011 at 05:24 PM (#3807202)
I googled Rizzo to check out his full stat line and there already are articles in SD lobbying for him to be called up. A combination of bad Padres offense and hot start for Rizzo.

As a note, Rizzo is K/AB is 23% for his career, 25% last year, although he is doing well this year (11 in 62 PA'S).
   16. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 23, 2011 at 05:32 PM (#3807213)
I still think Rizzo will become a really good MLB 1B. Despite Kelly's fancy scouting pedigree, I think Rizzo will wind up as the best from that group.

My quick-and-dirty measure of contact for minor league hitters is K/G. If they're striking out once per game or more than once per game, that prospect probably isn't going anywhere. If it's less than that, they're probably ok.
   17. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: April 23, 2011 at 10:44 PM (#3807516)
Has there been any prospect that truly made it after posting at least a K per G in his last stop in the minors?
   18. Darren Posted: April 23, 2011 at 11:12 PM (#3807528)
Ryan Howard, 2004: 131 K in 131 games.
   19. Darren Posted: April 23, 2011 at 11:21 PM (#3807537)
Cust, Reynolds, Buhner, Granderson...
and who could forget MARK BELLHORN!
   20. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 24, 2011 at 08:31 PM (#3808132)
My thresholds are K/AB below 25%, in-play BA of at least .325, and in-play ISO (ignoring HR) of at least .100 (or at least 25% of in-play hits going for extra bases when I don't have in-play numbers). I ignore HR because it's possible to hit HR in many minor league ballparks without making consistently solid contact.

Ryan Howard, in the minors, hit the ball hard when he made contact without a HR. Howard's in-play BA was .370 during his minor-league career, his in-play ISO was .108.

Buhner had a very good major league career, but from what I can tell he wasn't a big strikeout guy in the minors; in his one full season at AAA he fanned in just under 25% of his ABs. I'd really like to see his numbers from 1985 and 1986. Granderson wasn't really a big K guy in the minors, either, until he got to Toledo.

Cust, Reynolds, and Bellhorn are guys who haven't really had the level of success on a consistent basis that someone like Howard or Buhner has had. When everything goes right you get Reynolds's 2009; when it doesn't you get his 2010.

-- MWE
   21. Mattbert Posted: April 24, 2011 at 10:42 PM (#3808211)
Thanks, Mike. Interesting point about ignoring HRs; I hadn't really thought about it that way before.

I've always used 20% of PAs as a rough guide, but I can appreciate the reasoning behind using ABs instead of PAs as the denominator for looking at K-rates.
   22. Darren Posted: April 24, 2011 at 10:57 PM (#3808214)
Those are just guys who answered the question in #17. I didn't they disproved the idea of high K rates being bad. As your rules show, though, it's probably wiser to consider other factors than raw K rate.
   23. Mike Emeigh Posted: April 25, 2011 at 04:18 AM (#3808310)
Ryan Howard was actually the guy who made me take another look at in-play BA and ISO, because I really didn't think he'd have the level of success that he did in the majors based on the K rate and the fact that he wasn't hitting doubles and triples in AA.

There's really no substitute, in my mind, for watching a guy play. I was skeptical of Mike Stanton until I saw him play at AA and watched him make the adjustments to how he was being pitched.

-- MWE
   24. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 27, 2011 at 02:38 AM (#3810002)
Looks like Kalish made some unfortunate contact with the ground and got himself a SLAP and labrum tear. He says a month, but if it needs surgery it's going to be way longer than that. It's probably too early to say now, but it does put his role as Drew's successor in question.
   25. Dan Posted: April 27, 2011 at 02:46 AM (#3810005)
It's probably too early to say now, but it does put his role as Drew's successor in question.

Reddick has been looking great though.
   26. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: April 27, 2011 at 06:34 AM (#3810118)
Reddick has been looking great though.

He has been looking pretty good, and to return to our prior discussion, he's probably the only Red Sox prospect who's hitting well right now and has what looks like a normal BABIP. His BB and K rates are better than they've ever been in his career too.
   27. Mattbert Posted: April 27, 2011 at 01:58 PM (#3810271)
Re: Kalish, it sounds like the injury is to the shoulder of his throwing arm, which is bad news. A month of rehab strikes me as extremely optimistic, unless it is a very mild tear (probably a Type I). I would be very surprised if he plays again this season with no lingering effects.
   28. Darren Posted: May 08, 2011 at 11:15 PM (#3821531)
Iglesias promoted to take Scutaro's place. Too bad Navarro was on the DL--he really deserved it.
   29. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: May 11, 2011 at 06:02 PM (#3824441)
Latest on Kalish. Generally looks like good news though surgery probably will happen at some point either way it sounds like;

Just spoke to Red Sox vice president of player development Mike Hazen. He said Ryan Kalish played catch yesterday, the first time he has done that since his shoulder injury on April 21. He also has been doing one-handed bat drills.
   30. Darren Posted: May 15, 2011 at 08:18 PM (#3827864)
Of all the Sox prospects, perhaps the one most promising by K rates is Alex Hassan. The 23-year-old is a tad old for AA, but he is hitting .370/.476/.529 (leading the EL in OPS) with 22 BB and only 13 K in 141 PA. That's a little light in the power department, but you have to hope some of his 13 2B will turn into HR at some point. MC, do you feel like running an MLE on these #s?
   31. 185/456(GGC) Posted: May 15, 2011 at 09:00 PM (#3827918)
Apologies for the cross-post. Didn't notice the active minor league thread:

Portland was in New Britain this weekend. I was going to go to the game today and give a scouting report, but it got rained out. Last tine I caught Portland vs the Rock Cats, Pedroia and MDC were on the team. Maybe later this year I'll see them when they come back. Or go to Norwich and see Lowell play Connecticut.

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