Editor Note: Too good for the side-bar. RZ's graphs are amazing as always.
I got the idea for this article from Tommy's post on Longoria. Looking at FanGraphs data, the only major changes in Longoria's plate discipline from his first two season and this season is that his swing rate has gone down a tad and his contact rate is up to the highest of his career. These two stats will likely trend one way or the other as he continues on with his career, more so in his early seasons as continues to improve his batting skills.
I then made a couple contour graphs to visualize his changing contact rate and swinging rate.
First up, swinging rate. In this chart, the solid line denotes Longoria's 55% swinging rate (AKA the location where he's swung at 55% of the pitches thrown) and the dotted line marks his 40% rate, which is closer to his overall career average.
Longo is clearly laying off the high stuff much better this season while remaining the same on pitches away.
Next, his contact rate. Solid line represents an 85% contact rate (AKA where he's made contact on 85% of his swings) while the dotted represents 70%.
Longoria's 85% contact rate for this season seems to be centered in the pitch f/x strike zone. He's making less contact on the inside pitches, but he's also swung at less pitches located there (as seen in the first graph).
In the contact rate graph, the contour lines look like the swing path of a right-handed hitter. But then if you look at the first graph, the swing contour lines look like the reverse. Could this be normal, or is it something unique to Longoria?
I was going to do this by count but the samples for this season were pretty small.