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

Brock Lesnar attends UFC 184, keeps MMA rumors alive

Ronda Rousey beats Cat Zingano in 14 seconds

Dick Vitale will not call Duke-UNC rematch either

PHOTO: Auburn coaches, players wear ribbons for Mason

Dustin Penner apologizes after sending rape joke on Twitter

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Cowboys to use franchise tag on Dez Bryant

Report: Panthers officially parting ways with Greg Hardy

Could the Eagles release LeSean McCoy?

AEG: Inglewood stadium would be a terrorism target

Former Knick Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Report: Blackhawks, Caps discussed Patrick Sharp trade

WATCH: NIU C brings down basket on dunk

McCown plans to embrace mentoring role with Manziel

Chris Sale out three weeks with foot injury

NHL analyst calls out media over Blackhawks report

Alabama recruits aim to bring the dynasty back

WATCH: Jon Jones, Rumble Johnson prank Dana White

Anthony Mason: The most 'New York' of the 90's Knicks

Ray Rice addresses domestic violence case, his future & more

Kentucky raffling off Wildcats-themed motorcycle

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell throws down monster alley-oop

WATCH: Tyler Hansbrough, Festus Ezeli ejected for fight

WATCH: Russell Westbrook literally gets dent in his face

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

Brock Lesnar attends UFC 184

Rousey beats Zingano in 14 seconds

Anthony Mason: The most 'New York' of the 90's Knicks

Could Eagles release LeSean McCoy?

AEG plays dirty with Inglewood stadium

Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Westbrook got dent in his cheek

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

WATCH: Barkley rips analytics again

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

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.