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Baseball Advice Disguised as a Fat Joke: Dioner Navarro Needs to Take More Walks

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Whifftable_medium

Whiff% by pitch for each Rays' batter

So about a month back I pulled this data with the idea to do a long, drawn-out series with it, perhaps culminating with a larger annual piece. Needless to say, that didn't happen. Rather than waste the chart (and yes, it still includes Gross, deal with it) I want to post truncated bullet points of what the series would've included.

  • Carlos Pena and Kelly Shoppach are the only players with orange/red (a.k.a. poor) whiff rates at every major pitch type. When the Rays acquired Shoppach, I asked an Indians' fan who knows a bit about baseball about Shoppach's contact issues. His response: "Can't hit anything with a wrinkle." My lame response: "Cougars don't like him?" He stopped taking my calls at this point and I don't blame him.
  • Really though, Shoppach has issues hitting everything. In some ways, this is reassuring, because it means teams can't hone in on a central weakness and continually explot it (like they do with B.J. Upton and fastballs or Dioner Navarro and curves) but it also means he's pretty much liable to hurt himself with a swing rivaling Marc Normandin's fiercest Wii-mote hack.
  • The only Ray with all green is Ben Zobrist. Performance-Enhancing Deities doing work.
  • Upton is an interesting case because it's hard to tell whether he gets caught looking change-up in fastball counts or if his swing is more suited for change-ups than fastballs due to his shoulder. Nobody really knows the answer and despite what some would lead you to believe, B.J. Upton is not a Neanderthal who communicates through grunts.
  • Navarro makes contact. He also thinks too highly of his ability to turn balls into base hits. A bad hitter, or even an average hitter, can help to raise his ability level through taking as many bad pitches as possible. Consider this: Navarro walked 18 times last season; B.J Upton walked at least 12 times in three consecutive months.
  • Carlos Pena walked at least 16 times in two months, 13 and 11 in two others, and 27 times in May. Yes, Pena walked nine more times than Navarro all season within a single month.
  • I'd like to beat that factoid into the ground once more. Zobrist's walk totals by month: 5, 18, 19, 12, 21, and 16. Navarro's walks by month: 1, 2, 3, 2, 4, and 6.
  • While we're on the subject, Carl Crawford's walk totals by month: 9, 10, 7, 10, 4, and 11. He set a career high in walks; such a career high that you can take out the highest and lowest month totals and only miss a career high by two walks. I don't know if this is legitimate or not, but I'm prone to saying he should retain some of this. How much? Beats me.
  • Jason Bartlett and Gabe Gross were relatively close in making contact across the board. I don't know what to make of this.