Mike Snow · September 9, 2011 at 11:44 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Looking over the stats for a few different Mariner outfielders this year:

Carlos Peguero: 155 PA, 54 SO, 34.8 K%
Casper Wells: 103 PA, 36 SO, 35.0 K%
Trayvon Robinson: 95 PA, 35 SO, 36.8 K%
Greg Halman: 91 PA, 32 SO, 35.2 K%

Other than Peguero having a few more plate appearances, because he’s the one who got the biggest extended stretch of regular playing time back when the team had fewer options, those are some alarmingly similar numbers. We’ve discussed numerous times that for all their tools and raw power, Peguero and Halman will never be useful major leaguers with their current approach. It’s worth noting that neither was called up even when rosters expanded in September (although I don’t want to overemphasize that fact, considering that Michael Saunders is not all that far below this crew). While strikeouts are not necessarily worse than other kinds of outs, failing to make contact on this level generally makes it impossible to hit for a high average because you’re just not putting the ball in play enough. Both Halman and Wells have seen their batting averages collapse after hot starts with the team, illustrating how this plays out and reminding us of how much longer batting average takes to stabilize – two years or so, while all these guys are already approaching if not past the point where their strikeout rates would stabilize.

Now, the similarity in approach is not complete, because Wells and Robinson do walk more often: 6.8% and 6.3%, compared to 5.2% for Peguero and an appallingly bad 2.2% for Halman. Walk rate also takes a bit longer to stabilize than strikeout rate, so these numbers aren’t the final word, but it’s consistent with their past performances. Still, even those slightly higher rates are not exactly all that good.

For some finer detail, check out their plate discipline stats from Fangraphs:

O-Swing %
Peguero: 48.3%
Wells: 30.6%
Robinson: 27.7%
Halman: 37.7%

Z-Swing %
Peguero: 74.4%
Wells: 65.0%
Robinson: 69.3%
Halman: 78.4%

O-Contact %
Peguero: 56.9%
Wells: 54.2%
Robinson: 40.8%
Halman: 37.7%

Z-Contact %
Peguero: 71.8%
Wells: 78.0%
Robinson: 79.5%
Halman: 86.7%

To generalize a little bit around these numbers, the guys on the team whose approaches most resemble Peguero and Halman are Wily Mo Pena and Miguel Olivo. Neither of those is exactly a good role model. Halman is perhaps just swinging too much overall, while Peguero desperately needs to lay off bad pitches. Wells and Robinson are closer to the profile shown by Mike Carp. That might be encouraging in a sense, but it also looks like Carp has really gotten more aggressive and sacrificed plate discipline to go for power the last couple years. The difference is enough to make them useful, but not exactly great players.


18 Responses to “Aggressiveness”

  1. robbbbbb on September 9th, 2011 12:22 pm

    This is why left field is still the surest route for an upgrade for this team in the offseason.

  2. Bremerton guy on September 9th, 2011 12:24 pm

    Free Mike Wilson!

  3. robbbbbb on September 9th, 2011 12:26 pm

    Also: Mike notes above that high K rates make it difficult to be a good major league player. The Seattle poster boy for this approach is Jay Buhner. The Bone struck out in 23.7% of his plate appearances.

    The M’s need one of these guys to improve his contact rate and become a useful major leaguer. My money’s on Trayvon Robinson.

  4. everett on September 9th, 2011 12:38 pm

    I think both Robinson and Wells will be useful major leaguers, though both seem to profile best as 4th OFs.

  5. Mike Snow on September 9th, 2011 12:45 pm

    Free Mike Wilson!

    Sure. Wilson’s just as much of a hacker as the rest of these guys, though.

    Part of the issue is that Zduriencik has accumulated a glut of guys who could turn into something good (with a major leap forward of some kind), but are pretty marginal at their current level. When you have that many, you can’t give all of them the playing time needed to sort out which ones are worth keeping. So you have to make snap decisions, rely more on scouting judgments and minor league track records, and take calculated risks that take into account things like age and potential upside. Wilson will come out on the short end of almost every stick in that regard.

  6. Westside guy on September 9th, 2011 1:15 pm

    The thing I find interesting about both Wells and Robinson is – both of their strikeout rates jumped significantly after they came to the M’s.

  7. MrZDevotee on September 9th, 2011 1:49 pm

    Must be some sort of curse where each of them, as they made it to Seattle via whichever route, were inadvertantly given Carlos Peguero’s old locker, which years ago was Richie Sexon’s locker, and before that, Mike Cameron’s (single season K leader for M’s), and Jay Buhner’s before that (career leader), etc. etc…

  8. Paul B on September 9th, 2011 1:58 pm

    How does Wily Mo compare to this group?

    OK, I see he got a mention, but the percentages would be interesting to see as well.

  9. Mike Snow on September 9th, 2011 2:49 pm

    Wily Mo hasn’t played as much (even if you include Arizona, he has fewer PAs in the majors this year than these guys do just as Mariners), so his percentages are farther away from stabilizing. Such as they are, though, they more or less fit what you’d expect of his profile.

    K% – 32.6%
    BB% – 2.3%
    O-Swing – 43.8%
    Z-Swing – 75.8%
    O-Contact – 43.5%
    Z-Contact – 85.7%

    Feel free to visit the Mariners team page on Fangraphs if you want to look up anyone else.

  10. pinball1973 on September 9th, 2011 7:30 pm

    You know it’s a dead season when the first time in weeks I’ve checked in, there isn’t even a game thread.

    Them’s devoted fans!

  11. juneau_fan on September 9th, 2011 7:54 pm

    I still check every game. *sigh*

    Definition of a loser?

  12. groundzero55 on September 9th, 2011 8:43 pm

    Kind of lame to not have a game thread. I’m still a fan of the team even if I know they aren’t making the playoffs. Tonight is actually a fun one to watch.

  13. leon0112 on September 9th, 2011 8:47 pm

    The Mariners are pounding the ball tonight. Olivo may hit for the cycle.

  14. greentunic on September 9th, 2011 9:38 pm

    Ackley is a stud. His outs are more impressive than most hits.

  15. greentunic on September 9th, 2011 10:03 pm

    others’ hits

  16. Westside guy on September 9th, 2011 10:22 pm

    Man, Ichiro – I was looking at hit totals yesterday or the day before, and I said “this is it – the year his streak ends”. And, admittedly, it still probably is… but if anyone can go on a crazy hot streak for the last two weeks of the season, Ichiro can do it.

    Also, Jeff Francoeur should buy Dustin Ackley a beer after tonight’s game.

  17. Westside guy on September 10th, 2011 3:44 pm

    ARGH!!!! (Reference: Saturday’s lineup)

    Why is Kennedy the DH and Carp playing left? We’ve got a glut of young outfielders right now – put one of THEM in the DH spot if you feel the need to run Carp out into left… It’s not like Trayvon has played 100 games in a row.

    Man, Wedge drives me nuts sometimes. It’s September! Even if you believe in Proven Veteran Grittiness… we’re way, WAY out of it! It’s time to look at the kids! It’s not like Kennedy’s going to boost your chance of winning! Wedge, have you looked at his stats since June???

  18. Zero Gravitas on September 12th, 2011 9:19 am

    The Peguero plate approach, in a photo:

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