Out of left field: Contact rates

Out of left field is an occasional post with matters that don’t require 1,000 words of analysis, but should be mentioned anyway. In no particular order…

I wrote about the curious case of Eugenio Suárez for Off the Bench Baseball on Friday and something jumped out at me when I was doing research for the article – here are Suárez’ numbers in 2019 and 2021:

2019: .358 OBP, .572 SLG 49 HR, 131 OPS+
2021: .267 OBP, .387 SLG, 26 HR, 65 OPS+

His current 65 OPS+ is the second worst in MLB among qualified batters. Now here are his contact rates on pitches in the strike zone for the two seasons:

2019: 80.5%
2020: 80.6%

Once again, contact in and of itself is pretty close to irrelevant – HARD contact is what matters. In order to make hard contact you’re going to have to be patient and wait for your pitch and you’re going to have to swing forcefully when you get it. With that, the number of called strikes and swings and misses will increase – it happens. But you’ll also end up with a lot more walks, doubles and home runs.

Here’s the take home lesson for the kids at home: If you’re trying to “just put the ball in play” you’ll end up with 2021 Suárez. Be 2019 Suárez, kids.

Speaking of hard contact, I mentioned it on the My Baseball Page Facebook page, but it still bears repeating:

Giancarlo Stanton has a higher batting average than DJ LeMahieu (.273 to .268 as I write this, so essentially the same.) Once again, contact and batting average don’t tell you too much as we all know that Stanton’s hits do far more damage and lead to far more runs than DJ’s hits do. That’s not a knock on DJ, I’m a big fan of his. Just another reminder of how it’s more than just “making contact” (DJ’s contact percentage is 90%, Stanton’s 76%).

Speaking of Stanton…

Stanton’s OPS+ is 133, Pete Alonso’s is 131. Stanton has homered in 5.6% of his at bats, Alonso 5.7%.

Alonso is a mythical folk hero God to Mets fans. I will never understand why Yankee fans don’t like Stanton.

Did I miss anything? Let me know.

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