When we start talking about plate discipline in baseball it can mean different things to different people. The term is often used as a catch all for both pitch recognition and aggressiveness at the plate. The two things, however, can be and sometimes are, very different. Vladimir Guerrero is known as a very aggressive hitter because we all remember just how many non-strikes that he just absolutely crushed. Vladimir Guerrero also walked nearly as often as he struck out in his career. Now, obviously he’s an outlier who had incredible hand-eye coordination and was able to couple that with good pitch recognition to eventually become a Hall of Famer. But he is certainly an example of the kind of hitter who may be labeled incorrectly when we start discussing plate discipline.

Some players can not walk often, but still have plate discipline. Some players can strike out a lot and still have plate discipline. For today, though, when I say plate discipline, I’m simply looking at strikeout-to-walk ratio. For hitters, it’s a pretty important thing to look at. Very few hitters can be successful, as offensive players, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio worse than 3.0. As they say, three is indeed the magic number. There are outliers to that, of course, but they tend to be very few and far between.

Below I plotted out all 54 players in the Cincinnati Reds farm system with at least 200 plate appearances who appeared stateside this year. Worth noting that I used full season data for Miguel Hernandez, who split time between the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona League Reds, as well as using full season data for Randy Ventura for his time both before and after he was traded to the Reds. For the chart below, I charted the players walk and strikeout rates, and for players who were Top 25 Prospects in my Midseason Updated, I used their photo to mark them out on the chart.

Walk Strikeout Chart

Walk Strikeout Chart

For easy reference purposes, the further to the right and lower down the chart, the better. That indicates a higher walk rate (to the right) and a lower strikeout rate (lower on the chart).

Here’s the full list of walk and strikeout rates for everyone on the chart above:

Name 
PA 
BB% K%
Adrian Nieto 235 6.0% 23.8%
Alejo Lopez 269 11.2% 10.4%
Alex Blandino 473 13.5% 18.2%
Alfredo Rodriguez 516 4.8% 15.3%
Andy Sugilio# 254 6.7% 13.0%
Aristides Aquino 504 7.7% 28.8%
Blake Butler 338 6.5% 27.2%
Blake Trahan 526 9.9% 15.6%
Brandon Dixon 491 7.5% 25.5%
Brantley Bell 497 6.0% 24.7%
Brian O’Grady 271 15.1% 26.6%
Bruce Yari 374 11.0% 26.2%
Carlos Rivero 225 8.9% 30.2%
Cassidy Brown 321 10.3% 20.9%
Chad Wallach 243 5.3% 25.5%
Chadwick Tromp 261 8.4% 14.6%
Chris Okey 362 8.8% 28.7%
Daniel Sweet 410 10.2% 20.5%
Darnell Sweeney 363 9.6% 20.9%
Dilson Herrera 264 5.7% 23.1%
Eric Jagielo 367 12.3% 22.6%
Gabriel Guerrero 543 6.3% 19.0%
Garrett Boulware 213 4.7% 20.2%
Gavin LaValley 531 6.4% 21.8%
Hector Vargas 473 4.0% 14.0%
Hernan Iribarren 369 6.5% 11.7%
James Vasquez 437 9.4% 13.3%
Jesse Winker 347 11.0% 13.3%
Jeter Downs 209 12.9% 15.3%
Joe Hudson 250 11.6% 20.0%
John Sansone 445 10.8% 28.8%
Jose Siri 552 6.0% 23.6%
Josh Van Meter 537 9.9% 18.6%
Leandro Santana 271 8.1% 25.8%
Luis Gonzalez 410 2.0% 13.9%
Michael Beltre# 465 10.5% 19.1%
Miguel Hernandez 312 4.8% 13.5%
Miles Gordon 263 10.3% 20.9%
Mitch Piatnik 321 4.0% 41.7%
Montrell Marshall 246 8.5% 22.4%
Nick Senzel 507 9.7% 19.1%
Phil Ervin 407 9.1% 20.4%
Randy Ventura 531 6.6% 19.4%
Reydel Medina 403 5.0% 30.5%
Sebastian Elizalde 559 6.3% 12.5%
Shane Mardirosian 201 10.0% 24.4%
Shed Long 439 10.5% 21.4%
Stuart Fairchild 234 8.1% 15.0%
T.J. Friedl 491 7.9% 17.3%
Taylor Sparks 238 10.1% 30.7%
Taylor Trammell 570 12.5% 21.6%
Tyler Goeddel 470 11.1% 17.9%
Tyler Stephenson 348 12.6% 16.7%
Zach Vincej 420 6.7% 11.7%

 

13 Responses

  1. Arnold Ziffle

    It is fallible and not 100% perfect, but there is a distinct difference in the Latin players plate approach than the American born players by just looking at the numbers. A good majority of the Latin players are below an 8% BB rate, and a good majority of the American players are over that 8% threshold. That 8% figure is approximately the MLB average for batters.
    Luis Gonzalez is the low water mark of 2%, while Alejo Lopez is the high water mark at 11.2%. Lopez was the only Latin player with a BB% above 10%, and 18 non-Latin players with BB% above a 10%. That is a stark difference, 18 to 1.

  2. Brad

    I have been intrigued with Alejo Lopez since he was drafted out of HS. The strikeout/walk percentages further support my interest. I hope he continues to get more of a look. He has earned it with performance.

    Hope to see a combo of: Jose Garcia, Jeter Downs, Alejo Lopez in Dayton next year. With Miguel Hernandez either in Daytons infield rotation or at Billings.

    Looking forward, hope Reds finish with 5th or 6th pick in 2018. I am looking at HS RHP Kumar Rocker, HS SS Brice Turang or HS OF Jon Gray. College RHSP Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar as well.

  3. DaveCT

    Jeter Downs with a very impressive BB/K ratio as an 18 year old in the Pioneer League.

    As above, Lopez, but also Suglio. Tyler Stephenson also very impressive. And of course, Jesse.

  4. DaveCT

    On the downside, Okey and Aquino. Yikes. I hope Okey can take the winter and reinvent himself offensively, as that K rate won’t even get him out of Daytona.

  5. Wes

    I fell in love w Aquino and I think a lot of folks did but results from when he came back from that suspension have been pretty suspect at best. So now w new superstar siri I want to be more cautious in case he’s the next one year wonder. Doug seems to be higher on Siri than Aquino last year but that k/bb ratio is pretty terrifying and kinda mimics Aquino’s. So what makes you more confident in Siri than you were Aquino last year at this time?

    • Doug Gray

      Siri’s a center fielder and an outstanding baserunner, so he has to hit significantly less to be of value.

      • Doug Gray

        He’s not going to be THAT good on the bases, and probably a slightly lesser defender, but he’s going to bring outstanding center field defense and can probably steal you 35 bags in the Majors if he can hit enough to play every day. That’s the question, of course. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I won’t be surprised if in 4 years that Jose Siri isn’t the second best center fielder alive. But I also won’t be surprised if he’s struggling to find a big league job. There’s a ton of uncertainty with him. The sky is the proverbial limit. But he’s also a guy that has signs that suggest he may struggle to hit AAA pitching.

        I will also add that I don’t think his total strikeout-to-walk ratio is entirely telling of his skillset in that area. During his hitting streak he was a bit more aggressive than he normally would be because the streak was on the line.

    • Joe

      Agreed Wes. I rarely get excited about players with high strikeout rates coupled with low base on balls.

  6. DaveCT

    As the toolsy players go, Trammell may well be the exception in the risk department. The ratio of 12.5 to 21.6 will certainly play. Plus I’d hope for stability if not some improvement in both areas as he advances. What I’d really like to see is Siri improve in Daytona as much as he did coming to Dayton. Even half as much.

  7. Jim t

    Doug i think there is a old saying associated with the Latin players. You can’t walk off the Island.

  8. MK

    Just don’t get the Reds lineup the last two days. move Winker out of leadoff spot down to five and move Schebler to #1, Winker the better on base guy Schebler with better power.

    • RedsinWashSt

      Schebler is faster than Wink which means alot to Price. But I agree with you.