While watching the Rays draw only two walks while striking out nine times last night against a not-so-very-good Baltimore pitching staff I decided to look up just how much plate discipline the Rays have had this season. You may find it interesting, or you may not, but what else are you going to do on a Saturday afternoon.
*SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT*
FanGraph's O-Swing% shows us the percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone a player has swung at, the lower the better.
The Rays actually lead the league in O-Swing%, coming in at 17.5% and edging out the second place Red Sox who are at 18.6% coming into Saturday's games. Just to give this some context, on the opposite end of the spectrum are the Twins who are way out ahead in last place at 34.2%.
I was surprised to see the Rays leading this catagory, especially since at 56.7% Carl Crawford is only ahead of Alexi Ramirez and Clint Barmes. However, Crawford's hacking-ness is balanced out by the discipline of Pat Burrell(6.3%), Aki Iwamura(6.3%) and Jason Bartlett(7.7%) who have some of the lowest percentages so far this young season.
Looking back at the Rays' 2008 O-Swing%, I shouldn't be surprised at all that the team is leading that catagory this season. The team finished first in all of baseball with a percentage of 22.6, narrowly beating out the Red Sox and A's who each finished with 22.9%. The Sox and A's have reputations for having great plate discipline, while the Rays have yet to earn the same. The addition of Patient Pat Burrell should help corrrect that.
In 2007 the Rays finished 16th in baseball in O-Swing%, and if you remember, that team wasn't very good. They added many new players in 2008 finished first in O-Swing% and went to the World Series. I'm not saying there's a direct correlation between O-Swing% and overall team success, but it sure doesn't hurt.
It's almost like the Rays FO knows what they're doing when acquiring talent. Who knew.