Weinberg: The beginner’s guide to plate discipline

From Neil Weinberg at FanGraphs on April 27, 2015:

At its heart, baseball is a battle to control the strike zone. There are plenty of other things going on, but the origin of the action is over the plate. Good hitters make good decisions about when to swing and when to take and good pitchers attempt to negatively impact that decision-making process. As the importance of walks and working counts became clear over the last generation, hitters who knew the zone and pitchers who could generate swinging strikes became very popular.

Throughout history, batters have been judged by their results. Things like batting average and RBI have given way to wOBA and WAR, but in general the average fan cares about the outcomes rather than the process. Plate discipline numbers are inherently process based. You don’t get credit in the box score for taking a pitch just off the plate, but taking a pitch just off the plate is probably going to help you do things that lead to runs, like walking and getting good pitches to hit.

So the inherent question we’re always asking is “does X help the team win?” When we talk about something like FIP, we’re really talking about pitchers who do things that tend to lead to run prevention. When we talk about UZR, we’re talking about fielders who keep runs off the board. And preventing runs on the mound or in the field makes it more likely that your team will win.

Read the full article here: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/the-beginners-guide-to-plate-discipline/

Originally published: April 27, 2015. Last Updated: April 27, 2015.