Recently, I was inspired by the First Half in Review article about the Milwaukee Brewers on THT. Writer Justin Inaz presented some graphical data on the Brewers in what I thought was an interesting way. In keeping with a recent trend of must-read THT articles, this one was positively enlightening.
If you look at the article, he juxtaposed On-Base Percentage with Isolated Power on one graph, dividing it into four quadrants based on league averages. The end result is that players who do well in both categories end up in the upper-right quadrant, while players who do well in only one category are in the upper-left (ISO) and lower-right (OBP) quadrants. Players with little offensive value from a pure hitting standpoint are left in the lower-right quadrant.
Beyond that, he looked at strike zone management, performance vs. expectation, and performance vs. luck for both hitters and pitchers, as well as plays out of zone vs. in zone for fielding. It turned out to be very interesting, but I can be easily enthralled by graphs. Here, I’ll attempt to do what he did (perhaps with less commentary), only for the Braves.
These numbers are as of the day that article came out (last week), for comparison’s sake.
The first two graphs should be accompanied with the disclaimer that not all players in the lower-right quadrant (or players in either the top-left or lower-right quadrant) lack offensive value. This is only meant to show strengths and weaknesses.
The first chart quickly points out that Chipper Jones has been the Braves’ best offensive player, which should not be news to anyone. What it does show is that Kelly Johnson hasn’t been just an on-base machine, but in fact he has shown plus power as well this year. He’s been quite a find as a SS-turned-OF-turned-2B, if you can call a player who came up in the Braves’ system a “find.” Harris, Renteria, and Diaz also join those two players as high-OBP guys, though Harris in particular has lacked any sort of real power.
Andruw and McCann have shown that their offensive value is in power, not on-base skill, at least for this year. Perhaps the names clustered toward the middle on the low-power side are a bit surprising, with Francoeur and Salty posting almost identically mediocre lines. Has Frenchy lost power in his quest to become more patient? I’m not sure, but he wasn’t a particularly productive player before, even with all the power, so I’ll take the improvement in on-base skill. Thorman and Woodward fall on the other end of the chart, with Pete Orr completely off it so that I didn’t have to bunch people together.
Moving on to the plate discipline chart (K vs BB), Chipper once again shows up as a master at controlling the strike zone. Harris is the only other Brave in the top-right quadrant, but his skills have only been slightly above-average in each area. It’s worth pointing out that it’s far more helpful to have a high walk rate than it is detrimental to strike out a lot, so Kelly Johnson is to be commended again for his patience, even if he is striking out more than he should. Andruw takes the extreme approach, with a good walk rate and an enormous strikeout rate so far.
Renteria shows up in basically the same spot on this chart, along with McCann as decent-patience, low-strikeout guys this year. Diaz takes the contact-hitting award for not walking or striking out, and it’s interesting to see that despite Francoeur’s strides in terms of patience, he still has a lot of room to improve that walk rate in order to reach league average (8.6 walks per 100 PAs). Salty falls into the slightly below average category in both areas, while Thorman, Orr, and Woodward are all in poor shape.
Next is each players overall hitting performance (measured simply by OPS) vs. his expected OPS (using his PECOTA projection). With a dividing line down the middle, you can see which players have been a pleasant surprise, and which have disappointed. Unfortunately, there are more disappointments on the list, capped off by Andruw’s dismal year. The surprises are led by Chipper, Renteria, and Harris, and most people would probably consider Kelly Johnson a surprise, even though PECOTA didn’t.
The final graph pits performance (again OPS) against PrOPS, which is J.C. Bradbury’s method of examining batted balls to predict OPS, theoretically removing some of the effects of luck on balls in play. Andruw has been thoroughly unlucky, with McCann the only other player on that side of the graph. That’s not a good thing, since everyone else has to be considered “lucky,” at least to some extent. Diaz leads the way in that regard, but Harris, Johnson, and Renteria are not far behind.
I’ll try to get around to the pitchers later this week, since I think this is a pretty useful exercise.