Tommy Pham is one of baseball’s fiercest competitors.
He plays the game hard every time out and is constantly trying to better himself and find ways to improve. Coming off an amazing debut with the Rays in 2018, Pham called the Rays brass and requested permission to play in the winter leagues so he could find an improvement to his swing — that was after he hit .343/.448/.622 with Tampa Bay last season.
However, one of the main improvements to Pham’s already great game was not the improvement of his swing, but rather the improvement of when he swings.
Last season, during his combined time with the Tampa Bay Rays and St Louis Cardinals, Pham struck out 24.6% of the time. Thus far, in his 151 plate appearances in 2019, Pham has struck out just 15.2% of the time.
The drop in strikeouts can partly be attributed to Pham’s improved discipline at the plate.
He’s swinging less, offering at just 37.6% of all incoming pitches. That total places him among just 5% of the total qualifying players in the entire league.
STATS, LLC tracks a plate discipline stat that asks ‘who swings at pitches that produce good results.’ min 400 pitches;— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) May 2, 2019
6) Votto duh
9) Matt Chapman
His 5.7% swinging strike percentage also places him the fifth percentile of the league at swinging through pitches, and the Mike Trout comparisons were extended today at FanGraphs by Ben Clemens.
Where Pham has improved, and where he has become the league’s best, is laying off pitches outside of the strikezone, even to his detriment. Pham has developed a better understanding of the strikezone than even some of the league’s umpires.
How can I check on pitches called out of the Kzone for strikes on me?@enosarris— Tommy Pham (@TphamLV) May 3, 2019
Thank you— Tommy Pham (@TphamLV) May 3, 2019
In 2018, Pham offered at 21.4% of pitches out of the zone, which placed him among the league’s best. He ranked as having the 17th lowest outside-zone swinging percentage in baseball last season.
In 2019, he has improved to 16.1%, which is easily the best mark of any qualified major leaguer (Alex Bregman is next with 17.2%).
Y’all, we’re starting to think Tommy Pham might be real heckin’ good.