It is hard to pay with K(c)ash for the longball

Just like doubles, K/HR (not to be confused with K per hour) is something every MLB team should evaluate. Nowadays Ks are showing up everywhere! There’s nothing special about them either! Pitching wise, want to the rally train to screech to a halt? Kall the bullpen? Nope! Kall the punchout! Ring ‘em up sit ‘em down! It never fails to let all the air out of a team’s balloon then with runners on, your guy proceeds to earn a one way ticket back to the dugout without passing “GO.” Pujols has been a bedrock in every lineup he’s been in because not only does the pitcher have get Pujols to hit it to one of his fielders, make the fielder finish the out. There are many less errors and misplays on Ks, relative to any ball hit within arms reach of the diamond. The K/HR can be looked at as the HR taking on revenue at the expense of the K.

Courtesy AP/John Amis

Courtesy AP/John Amis

The most telling stat about Ks, is the Atlanta Braves maxing out a landfill. Maybe next year the Braves will go green. They Kashed in for a championship run in the past off-season, picking up the Upton brothers (B.J. and Justin), to Kreate one of the best defensive OF in the game! The move backfired, B.J. Upton never got out of an early season hole. Justin didn’t approach his career year in 2011, even struggling defensively with a -1.5 DWAR. His doubles drastically decreased from 39 to 27, while he did play in 10 more games in 2011, he struck out 35 more times in 2013, so he should have approached 39 doubles but he didn’t. Justin did increase his walks in 2013 reaching 75 times via the free pass. The Runs Responsible (R+RBI) is most telling for me, he had 27 HR which was 4th in the NL, and tied with many for 18th in MLB. Upton was able to produce a HR every 20 AB, while he gave up 161 out of his 558 AB to the K. That’s 3.5 AB per K. That is a very questionable approach for a guy referred to as having a 6.2 60-time, one of the fastest ever recorded. That kind of speed goes to waste every time the ball is not in play. Justin Upton suffered a smidge under 6 Ks per HR (5.96). He also hit 19 of his 27 HR as solo shots making 5% of his AB with the bases empty ending with a HR. Is there anyone out there willing to pay 6 times more for the value of the product they buy?  So an item you get to use once Kosts 6 times more than the use you get out of it. So paper plates and plastic forks which are you usually a few pennies Kost Kloser to a dollar per item, or a Kodak disposable camera regularly costs $4.45 really costed $26.70. These items are used once and cost about the same as what the consumer gets out of them. The HR especially the solo shot costed Justin Upton 6 Ks per HR and held Upton responsible for 164 RR (Runs Responsible). It is difficult in the MLB to have success with an 0-2 count, because the pitchers are just that good, but it is inexcusable for have the team’s 3rd batter in the order, hit .178 with an 0-2 count and strike out 27 out of 45 times. It is rare for a 3rd hitter with the pure speed Justin Upton has. He has the hand speed to cut his swing down and get on the sack whether the ball gets through the hole or not. He had 1 HR off 0-2 count so it was not worth the lack of success his approach brought. Statistically, if a .260 hitter got an infield hit each week of the season they would bat .300. Justin Upton’s approach is wreckless, and something a player without a supporting cast would be pushed to do. Similar to the good players on bad NBA teams shooting all the time, without remorse or thinking twice. The biggest area to improve for Upton is with an 0-2 count, the biggest problem is the entire Braves lineup is under the pretense the strike out is no different from any other out. The Atlanta Braves led the playoff teams in Ks and only trailed the Twins and Astros for the MLB lead. This unacceptable, with the amount of team speed filling out the lineup card, too many good things can happen with a ball in play. Now let’s switch gears to a team that has kut down on the K, the Texas Rangers. In Arlington, too many good things can happen when the ball is in play. It is one of the most hitter friendly parks in the bigs, noting that Turner Field doesn’t hinder batting enough to throw a fit about either. The two teams that had the least amount of Ks also finished top 2 in the MLB in SB. Neither team is full of punching Judys. Texas finished 7th in Slugging % (SLG), while the Royals had trouble getting XBH in their spacious park and finished outside the top 20 in SLG, which could attribute to their absence of the playoffs. The Royals didn’t have any players take the all

Photo Courtesy of AP

Photo Courtesy of AP

or nothing approach, but they did not get the HR totals from 3B and Katcher (couldn’t replace that C) that they expected. Without the down year from Moustakas who knows where the Royals would have ended up?! Also the Royals struggled for stability at RF and 2B, the addition of Aoki and a full season of Bonifacio, that should lead to more runs, XBH, and even more SB. Six positions were in double digit SB, so the K reduktion Kreates a great opportunity, for the Royals to maximize their speed by reaching on infield hits and errors, and flying around the base paths. It’s amazing that the stat BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is the tell of luck, because it takes out the K a hitter has through a season. I believe it is telling that too many good things happen when an MLB hitter puts a ball in play. There are complaints from the stat-head community that a hitter was lucky to hit .300, because he had an .350 BABIP, this is chalked up to luck. A recent example, Batting Title Champ Melky Cabrera (doesn’t strike out enough to have a K in his name),  he had a .379 BABIP, and his BA was .345. His Career K rate is at 12%, and he has held the line throughout his career. His 2012 success was chalked up to his PED suspension. I believe he will be a .300 hitter again in his career. He has been able to have 30 points more on his BABIP compared to BA. Last year’s decline was due to his lack of success vs LHP, which was a big part of all of his offensive numbers seen in 2o12. Cabrera  is a great example of why it pays to put the ball in play. He has been able to keep his Ks under 70 for all but one of the seasons in his career. Watch for Melky to return above the .300 clip in 2014. Finally the hitter to start his career like none before him! 30 HR 99+RBI for his first 12 seasons (’01-’12). He had at least 170 Hits and never struck out

The HR trot seen too often! Photo Credit AP/Alex Brandon

The HR trot seen too often! Photo Credit AP/Alex Brandon

100 times in a season. This unmatched streak Kame to a halt in 2013, Pujols’ plantar fasciitis got the best of him. By far the most impressive stat of his Kareer is his 1.69 K/HR ratio. Let that sink in… Pujols has less than double the K as he does HR. He also has more BB than K through his Kareer. This is one of the greatest offensive performances ever, and it is far from finished, Pujols will play the season at age 34, usually Konsidered the stage when men enter their “old man strength” phase. His HR total dropped in his first year in LA, but those HR didn’t turn into K, he racked up 5o doubles! Not many friendly parks to hit in when playing in the AL West, and especially making the jump from the NL Central, where Miller Park, Great American Ballpark and Wrigley are all friendly to RHB. He made the adjustment to let the ball land where it may, and stack up on 2 baggers while still hitting 30 HR. Pujols had his lowest strikeout year in 2006, in which he had a career high 49 HR, 1 shy of evening his K total of 50! Something special happened that year, but it doesn’t seem to RING a bell. Pujols was about as bad as most if not all MLB hitters with an 0-2 Kount, .167 BA, but once he got past 0-2 his BA reached for the summit, batting .301. After the count was 1-2, he batted .344 and deposited 8 balls into the seats, so even after the pitcher got 2 out of 3 of the pitches against Pujols to be strikes, Pujols still took the reins and did his job to get on base. Yet one step further when the pitcher fell behind 1-0 to Pujols he was good for 25 HR and a whopping .497 OBP. I believe Pujols will stick around much longer than originally thought after he inked his mega-deal. He most certainly will be back to his career averages, and if his work ethic has yet to waver, he could be in the mix for something special! He does not K and knows the reward for putting the ball in play!

Colby Richards

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