Knowledge Drop May 20, 2018 – Rickey Henderson Edition (#24)
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*Rickey Henderson was 3rd all time in WAR among #24s. Earlier this month we already saluted Willie Mays (156.4) and we won’t dignify another “asterisked” #24, who counts 162.8. Our man Rickey had 111.21 and is in the long line of players who thrived before becoming New York Mets.
TOP KNOWLEDGE — WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
Big Mac’s Prescription for Paul Goldschmidt
To say Paul Goldschmidt has been awful is unfair. To the word awful. He’s been putrid.
Key 2018 stats (and his lifetime average) look like this: .203 average (.294), .326 on-base percentage (.396), .354 slugging percentage (.524). That’s a .681 OPS (.920). His outstanding walk rate is 14.4, about his career average, but his K% is 31.6, compared to 22.5 percent for his career).
Watching Goldschmidt Friday night we thought that it might be time for a DL stint, or even a trip to the minors. He’s that lost at the plate. Of course Jacob deGrom makes a lot of hitters look that way, but we dug into the numbers to see what is going on. And we don’t like it.
It’s May 20, so we’re dealing with small samples still. But it has been about a quarter of the season, so the numbers are beginning to have meaning. We noticed this set of numbers first: his 2018 performance against fly ball pitchers (top 1/3 of FB/GB ratios), ground ball pitchers (top 1/3 of GB/FB) and all others. His career marks are below.
Goldschmidt is really struggling against ground ball pitchers. Even with the humidor, he’s performing well above his career marks versus pitchers with fly-ball tendencies, though the home runs aren’t piling up. Against all others he is woefully struggling.
Let’s look at another set of data. Below are his whiff percentages by zones from both last season and so far this season. These illustrations are from the catcher’s perspective:
Goldschmidt is really struggling low in the zone and beneath the zone; and generally on the outside part of the plate both low and high in the zone.
In the below set of Statcast stats, courtesy of baseballsavant.com, we see Goldschmidt with a higher launch angle and identical “Barrel%” (the ideal range of both exit velocity and launch angle to produce extra base hits). In non-barrel at-bats, however, Goldschmidt is really struggling. His exit velocity is down, as is his hard hit percentage. Not pictured, his soft contact numbers are way up.
One last visual before we move on. If you own Goldschmidt, it might scare you:
There is no good trend in that graphic. His contact, in and out of the zone, is down, and fairly significantly, from 2016. Pitchers are getting ahead of him far more often than in the past. He’s whiffing at alarming rates, 12 percent this year, compared to 8 percent in 2016.
Our prescription for Goldschmidt: See an eye doctor. He is not seeing the ball well away or low. Given the dramatic contrast versus fly ball pitchers and all others, despite the sample size, concerns us that either he is just not seeing the ball well, or, at age 30 his bat is slowing down.
Goldschmidt’s woes, we suppose, can be considered a slump. But we think it’s a significant problem that will derail Arizona’s playoff chances, particularly with so many pitching injuries, if not corrected immediately. Goldschmidt is the spine of the Diamondbacks lineup and if he’s not right, the offense has no shape at all.
We’d put him on the 10-day DL and right to an eye doctor. If his eye exam comes back clean, get him tons of work in the batting cage and in some minor league games.
If you’re a major league pitcher, never throw Goldschmidt anything above the lower third of the zone. He’s just not hitting it well right now. And we think it’s because he’s not seeing it clearly either.
A THOUSAND WORDS
Today @BatFlipCrazy is a bit worried about Josh Donaldson:
I think there’s reason to worry, though I think it’s more injury-related than how pitchers are pitching him (look at the spike in GB%). I wouldn’t give up on him. He struggled early last season (though not this bad) after injury and came back strong.
Follow @BatFlipCrazy on Twitter and read more in-depth data analysis at batflipcrazy.com
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There are 2 ducks in front of 2 other ducks. There are 2 ducks behind 2 other ducks. There are 2 ducks beside 2 other ducks. How many ducks are there?
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Nobody correctly guessed that the ring was in the silver box. Losers.
DAD JOKE OF THE DAY
I bought a pair of shoes from a drug dealer.
I don’t know what he laced them with, but I’ve been trippin’ all day.