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Colby’s Approach

September 1, 2010

There’s been lots of discussion about Colby Rasmus and TLR recently. A lot of it was centered on his approach at the plate, so I thought it would be good to spend the next couple of posts digging into the information that we have at hand that describes his approach.
One common statement is that he tries to yank every ball out of the park. I read that as folks think he’s trying to pull too many outside pitches. Here’s the data, first the break down for any pitch from the dead center of the plate out.

Oppo 30%
Middle 31%
Pull 39%

and then for the outer quarter and beyond.

Oppo 35%
Middle 34%
Pull 31%

Unfortunately I do not have any league averages in front of me, so these numbers are slightly out of context. All we can really conclude is that he pulls about 1/3 of the outside pitches he sees. Is that good/bad/ or indifferent. One way to get some insight into this question is by looking at his batted ball profile by field. First for all pitches on the outside half

Oppo 56% 12% 25% 7%
Middle 54% 28% 15% 3%
Pull 15% 65% 20% 1%

And then for just the outer quarter

Oppo 54% 11% 31% 5%
Middle 47% 33% 19% 2%
Pull 7% 81% 12% 0%

As with most hitters, more pulled outside pitches = more GBs. In general (small sample size applies) those pulled GBs are going for less hits than the GBs hit either up the middle or the other way.

An interesting tidbit to note is that embedded in the 15% of fly balls that he pulls on pitches from the middle of the plate out are 9 HRs. That equates to around a 40% HR/FB ratio which is clearly unsustainable no matter who you are. I point his out because there is some chance that this is causing something of a confirmation bias for Colby.

All this being said, Colby is clearly the best option to be playing right now. Could he add some points of wOBA by taking a few more balls the other way (especially the ones on the outer quarter)? Yes. Does it make a big enough difference that it makes other less talented players better performers than him? Probably not. Does it make him not one of the three best options for the Cardinal outfield? Of course not!

In a later post I’ll try to frame the strikeout discussion.

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