The Saber's Edge: The Intersection of Plate Discipline, Age and Contact

The Saber's Edge: The Intersection of Plate Discipline, Age and Contact

This article is part of our The Saber's Edge series.

Last week, I examined hitters who have improved their plate discipline the most. A reader, "Bottlecap," wanted to know which part of a hitter's plate discipline goes first, the ability to tell if the pitch is a ball or a strike, and therefore swing, or the hitter's ability to make contact when he does swing. I am going to dive into some of the core stats behind plate discipline, contact and swing rates, and how this values can be used to help your fantasy team.

While I eventually decided to use contact (Contact%) and swing (Swing%) rates, I dug around a bit see what other stats could be used. Bottlecap brought up "deterioration in vision" and "bat speed." The problem with these two data sources is it takes knowing the hitter's vision test or multiple years of scouting reports to get the information.

The key was to find an easy to follow source on the information, and I used the Pitchf/x Plate Discipline values available at FanGraphs (here's Carlos Gomez's, for example). I will look at the three swinging and three contact values to see which ones might indicate a change in a player's performance. The reason I like to use the Pitchf/x plate discipline values instead of the normal "Plate Discipline" values (just above the linked table) is the strike zone size was inconsistent for several years.

Besides being readily available in a simple table at FanGraphs, both of the stats stabilize at a quicker rate

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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