The Young strike zone, part 3

Michael Young now needs 17 hits in 14 team games to get 200 for the fifth straight year. I would say that he will almost certainly do it, barring some kind of injury which keeps him out of a few games. I hope I didn’t just jinx him. He’s averaging about one and a quarter hits per game that he plays, which would give him 18 over the 14 games left. Now, if he slips for a few, he might be in trouble, but I think he’s just as likely to have a four hit game. What’s odd is that he had an 0-4 today, and the ESPN report said it broke his career high 14 game hitting streak. I am very surprised he hasn’t had a hitting streak much higher than that, in fact I would have expected at least a 20. I don’t know what that means, if he is not so streaky, but more consistent, or what.

There’s a few interesting things to point out about his shot at 200 hits. First of all, only 20 players have ever had five or more seasons of 200 hits, and only six of them had five consecutive seasons. Five of the six consecutive are in the Hall of Fame (Wade Boggs, Charlie Gehringer, Willie Keeler, Chuck Klein, Al Simmons), the only exception being Ichiro, who will probably be headed there one day. That’s interesting company. Many of the rest of the 20 are also in the Hall, in fact so are many of the 15 who have four seasons of 200. Is Michael Young bound for the Hall of Fame? By the way, of active players, Jeter is also 17 hits from 200, which would be his 6th season of 200. Juan Pierre (177) and Vlad Guerrero (176) are both trying for their 5th seasons, but they might be a bit too far away. Ichiro already reached his 7th, the only player with 200 hits so far this year.  The consecutive season record is 8, by Wee Willie Keeler, then Boggs and Ichiro at 7.  The record for 200 hit seasons (not consecutive) is held by Pete Rose with 10, then Ty Cobb has 9.

A while back I reported on his strike zone, and showed that I thought that it didn’t seem to matter where in the strike zone a pitch was thrown, the rate of result was the same, except for the down and away pitch. I looked at several batters and saw the same pattern, and didn’t know what was going on. I argued that the percentage of fouls, of hits, of outs, and of swinging strikes was roughly the same across all zones for the batter. This did not make sense, because everyone knows that batters have hot and cold zones. I am still perplexed by these results. I haven’t been able to do any kind of breakdown that would show something different, based on all the pitches. If this is the case, then it seems that random pitches thrown in random locations would give the same result.

I finally found a hitting zone chart for Michael Young online. Problem is, I can’t match it, for the simple reason that I’m using Gameday data and it’s not complete for Michael Young, or anyone else for that matter. I tried tracking them for the last week or so, but even that was impossible, because I could not make my pitch data match their strike zone. The strike zone is presumably a personal preference, or at least a programmatic preference, because I was able to follow some of theirs where a hit was recorded in one zone but an out in the same spot recorded in another. But their chart is still interesting, in that it shows his down and away to be his only weak spots, like I did. That at least tells me I’m on the right track.

Without putting all the numbers in, I can tell you that the highest average I have for him is.583, in the up and in zone. Dead center I have him at .415, whereas down and away I have him at a miserable .136. In all these cases, by the way, small sample sizes are very evident, as my largest zone, center, I only have 41 results (hits or outs). Of course, outside the zone it gets even worse.

I defined my zone horizontally as starting from the 0 point, dead center of the plate, taking three inches either side (technically, from -0.250 to 0.250 in the Gameday data), to make a six inch area. I then stepped out six inches on either side to make zones. Vertically, I went from 1.8 as the bottom line, up 0.567 each zone until I got to 3.5 as the top. Above and below also had that distance. So horizontally I am using 0.500, and vertically a little more. That means my plate is measuring at 18 inches wide, which for me is close enough.

Now I know you’re wondering about how I got 1.8 and 3.5. The Gameday data varies a little, as many people have shown, but in a recent game (9-9), the data had his strike zone from 1.531 to 3.502 (with a couple of variations, but these were the dominant measures). That suggests I’m good at the top, but I’m cutting off almost three inches at the bottom. Why? Here’s why:

Michael Young balls and strikes

This is a chart of the balls and called strikes Michael Young has received this year. Given that these are what is called by the umpire, this should be a fairly accurate representation of what his actual strike zone is. There is some variation, of course, and you have to realize that some of the dots are not really what they should be, but more likely errors from Gameday. For example, I doubt an umpire called a strike on that pitch that’s two feet outside (although most umpires are blind, but that’s another story).

What you see is a strike zone that is very well defined at the top, at 3.5 feet. At the bottom, the variation works out at 1.8 feet, with a couple of strikes below that, but also some balls above. Interestingly, the width of his strike zone is from about -1 to _1, or a total of 24 inches, a little wider than you’d expect.

What you also see is how many pitches are on the right side and down (both balls and strikes). There is a huge number down and away, which shows that other teams know his weakness too. I said before that his down and away zone average is .136, well if you include outside the strike zone, it falls to .093. Shouldn’t this be something that Rudy Jaramillo should be working on? Or maybe they don’t worry about it, since he’s approaching 200 hits anyway?

In the near future, I’m going to expand my look at who hits what where.  Showing Michael Young’s strike zone results don’t answer the questions I posed in the earlier post, namely that hitters seem to hit about the same anywhere in the strike zone.  This seems contradictory, after having read this post, but I am talking about two different things, namely the batting average here, but the rate of strikes, fouls, etc in the other.  How did I get that result before, and was it valid?  How do I reconcile it to this one?  With luck, and a little hard work, maybe I’ll have a result before Michael Young reaches 200 hits.

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2 Responses to “The Young strike zone, part 3”

  1. Enhanced Gameday analysis cataloged by date « Fast Balls Says:

    […] September 16, Steve West published “The Young Strike Zone, Part 3“, an article in his series examining strike zone charts for Michael […]

  2. Enhanced Gameday analysis cataloged by author « Fast Balls Says:

    […] September 16, he published “The Young Strike Zone, Part 3“, an article in his series examining strike zone charts for Michael […]

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