Monday, January 6, 2014

Free Swinging Prospects

When a MLB team drafts a 5-tool player they expect them to be a superstar. That always isn't the case and a large part of that has to do with plate discipline.

Take Corey Patterson for example, drafted by the Cubs in 1998 and was projected to be a superstar. But he had one problem: he had no plate discipline.In his first pro season he struck out 18% of the time and walked 5% of the time. A concerning rate but Patterson did hit well so it wasn't as noticed and corrected as it should have been.

When Patterson made his MLB debut in 2000 he struck out 14 times in 47 plate appearances and walked only 3 times leading to a .167/.239/.333. In his first substantial amount of playing time with the Cubs Patterson struck out 142 times in 628 plate appearances (22%) and walked only 19 times (3%) an extremely concerning rate.

After an injury-shortened 2003 Pattersons plate discipline began to hurt him as teams began to realize how he rarely takes any walks. He was still collecting hits but was quickly turning into a bust. After 2005 he was traded to the O's for 2 prospects (Carlos Perez and Nate Spears).

After his 2-year stint with the Orioles Patterson bounced around from team to team never living up to his true potential.

What lesson does this teach? It shows that issues with plate discipline need to be corrected immediately. Not when the player is struggling in the big leagues. As soon as it is recognized as an issue the player needs to receive instructions on how to approach each at bat. Too many prospects careers have been ruined by not learning how to approach each at bat and it isn't right. Something that could be potentially corrected so easily is ignored and it ruins players careers.

No comments:

Post a Comment