Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/10/14
David Wright experienced a resurgence of sorts in 2012. After four straight outstanding offense seasons, Wright’s offensive production dipped significantly in 2009 — from a 141 wRC+ to 125. In 2011, Wright’s wRC+ declined all the way to 116. But this year, the old David Wright reappeared and the 29-year-old third basemen posted a 140 wRC+. The Mets, encouraged by Wright’s year at the plate, have not only picked up his 2013 option (which was predictable), but have also continued discussions for a long-term contract extension. How likely we are to see Wright put up similar numbers in the future is debatable. Regardless, one thing was clear: Wright was making better decisions at the plate in 2012. And while his plate discipline numbers were positive (e.g. -2.1% O-Swing), the overall change didn’t seem to capture how well Wright’s plate approach improved. In an effort to tease this out beyond the basic plate discipline metrics, R. J. Anderson used Mike Fast’s “correct” decision-making approach to look at how Wright’s decision-making improved in the past three season. Anderson calculated the percentage of “correct” pitches Wright swung at in 2012, compared to the two previous seasons. He found Wright had improved his decision-making by 7%. I decided to take an even narrower view than Anderson and focused only on the location of balls Wright swung at that were just off of the plate, or that were off the black. Using PITCHf/x data, I calculated the average distance off the black (both on the inside and outside of the strike zone) of the pitches that hitters swung at. I purposefully excluded pitches thrown in two-strike counts, as hitters are apt to expand their zones and swing defensively in those counts. To make it easier to walk through, I am calling this metric wDOTB — or weighted distance off the black. (I am using “weighted” here to denote that the measure is the weighted average of the inside and outside distances.) Here are the league averages for 2012, broken down by batter handedness: RHH wDOTB Outside 0.22 Inside 0.24 Total 0.23   LHH wDOTB Outside 0.23 Inside 0.20 Total 0.22 The difference between left-handed and right-handed hitters is pretty small. Right-handers tend to swing at pitchers farther inside off the black, whereas the opposite is true of left-handers. This is probably due to the fact that there are more right-handed pitchers in the league, and, therefore, hitters will see more or fewer pitches on each side of the plate based on who is throwing the ball. In terms of the leaders and laggers from each side of the plate, here are two graphics. First, right-handed hitters with at least 600 plate appearances: And, left-handed hitters with at least 600 plate appearances: Generally speaking, the best everyday hitters when it comes to swinging at pitches close to the black are about twice as good as the worst from each side of the plate. Now, let’s get back to Wright. Here’s Wright’s wDOTB going back to 2008: Total wDOTB Inside Outside 2008 0.19 0.16 0.16 2009 0.19 0.20 0.12 2010 0.23 0.24 0.12 2011 0.22 0.21 0.16 2012 0.17 0.16 0.19 To more easily visualize the difference, I plotted the actual pitches Wright swung at and then bucketed them into 2009 to 2011 and 2008 and 2012: Visually, we can see the biggest difference seems to be on the inside. In 2008 and 2012, Wright’s wDOTB for inside pitches was just .16, compared to .22 from 2009 to 2011. When it came to outside pitches, Wright’s wDOTB was almost identical (.20 vs. .19). When Wright swings at inside pitches, he’s picking the ones that are more easily driven — versus weakly hit (or missed) ones. Compared to other right-handed hitters this past year, Wright’s .17 wDOTB ranked third overall. So, yes, Wright wasn’t just hitting the ball better this past season. He was much more selective when he chose to swing, specifically on balls on the inside of the plate. As far as the metric overall, I can’t say with any degree of certainty what the relationship is between wDOTB and overall productivity. At a minimum, wDOTB gives us a better picture of how hitters differ when it comes to swinging at balls out of the zone. Whether or not this metric matters from an inferential standpoint will require more testing. My initial hunch is that the absolute value matters less than individual hitter changes, year-to-year. I’ll report back with any new developments.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

MLS 2015 season preview

Report: Broncos will franchise tag Demaryius Thomas

Marshawn Lynch on final SB play: 'I was expecting the ball'

Report: Rangers acquire Keith Yandle from Coyotes

Report: Bucs to keep Vincent Jackson under current contract

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Twins to limit players' smartphone use on game days

Shane Battier: Carmelo Anthony is not that tough to guard

Ronda Rousey would be 'happy' to fight Cat Zingano again

Markieff Morris calls out Suns fans after loss

Cowboys to let DeMarco Murray test free agency?

Brock Lesnar attends UFC 184, keeps MMA rumors alive

WATCH: Sidney Crosby gets leveled in open-ice hit

PHOTO: Pacquiao has message for Mayweather with t-shirt?

Nuggets break team huddle with countdown to end of season

WATCH: James Harden kicks LeBron in the groin

Jim Harbaugh tells Madonna he respects her toughness

Are the Oakland Raiders finally trending up?

Durant blasts Instagram hater for Westbrook comment

Three potential big signings the Steelers could make

Kevin Garnett buys 1,000 tickets for Timberwolves fans

Michigan fan has incredible Charles Woodson tattoo

WATCH: NIU C brings down basket on dunk

McCown plans to embrace mentoring role with Manziel

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

MLS 2015 season preview

Report: Broncos to franchise Demaryius

James Harden kicks LeBron in groin

Lynch: 'I was expecting the ball'

Report: Rangers get Yandle from Coyotes

Harbaugh respects Madonna's grit

Twins to limit game day cell phone use

Kevin Durant blasts hater on Instagram

KG buys 1,000 tickets for T-Wolves fans

Markieff Morris calls out Suns fans

Cowboys letting Murray test market?

Brock Lesnar attends UFC 184

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.