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  • Doumit demonstrating patience

    When the Twins signed Ryan Doumit, they gained a switch-hitter who had a moderate level of pop and decent batting average ability thanks to a high line drive rate. What they did not necessarily sign was a patient hitter who has been able to coax walks. The former Pittsburgh Pirate has held a 6.8% walk rate for his career, a mark that is slightly below the average of 8%. However, this spring, bolstered by nine walks in 54 plate appearances, Doumit has turned in a 15% walk rate.

    Could Doumit have turned a corner in his career? Has he added another dimension to his offensive game?

    Maybe this is a step forward for Doumit. While we should never base anything on a sampling of 50 plate appearances, who’s to say that the switch-hitter has not honed his strike zone judgment or made a concerted effort to improve his discipline?

    Interestingly enough, Doumit’s plate discipline numbers from a year ago paint a story of a hitter who has been scrutinizing pitches more. According to Fangraphs.com, prior to the 2011 season, Doumit had an out-of-zone swing rate of over 32% in each of the previous three seasons, a rate well above the average. This past season, he whittled that down to 26%, which was below the average.

    So it is possible that the walks amassed in Florida are the fruits of his labors that he implemented in 2011 but it seems unlikely. This is spring training. It is chock full of erratic pitchers, minor league arms who may be intimidated of major leaguers and those who are just “working on things”. Doumit’s sudden spike in a little over 50 plate appearances has little or no statistical bearings on his future production. After all, players have monster springs more often than not regress to their true levels. Consider this: a year ago, Jason Repko drew a team-high 10 walks in Grapefruit League action – a whopping 15% walk rate for the fourth outfielder. When the regular season rolled around and those pitchers who lack command were vetted, Repko’s walk rate came crashing back down to earth, finishing the year with a 4.2% walk rate over his 144 plate appearances.

    What’s more is that there are not a lot of hitters who have had a sudden and sustained walk rate spike in the middle of their careers. The Oakland A’s Moneyball philosophy was to draft patient hitters because they could “teach” power (or inject them with steroids or whatever) but they could not teach discipline. Doumit, while sporting an 8% walk rate in the minors, is unlikely to have his numbers transform radically this late in his career.

    So, will Doumit’s spring patience carry into the regular season? It’s improbable, but not impossible. In the end, he likely finishes the year with a walk rate close to his career average of 7%.
    This article was originally published in blog: Doumit demonstrating patience started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. James Rivah Twins Fan's Avatar
      James Rivah Twins Fan -
      Interesting analysis Parker. I for one would like to see the walk rates for all (some?) of the current Twins as a follow-up post if you get a chance. Maybe even some historically significant walk rates of past HOFers or past Twins. Thanks!
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      from the sounds of it, he's trending in the right direction.. not quite sure it would go to this extreme, but to see a slight uptick to league average or a bit better doesn't seem unreasonable.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      It might be a bit more common. In his age 26 season, Torii Hunter had a 5.5% walk rate for his career and a K rate of 19.4%. Since his age 27 season, he's increased his walk rate to over 8% and lowered his krate to about 17%. Morneau, after his MVP season, showed even more increased plate discipline. Admittedly, neither was over 30 when they had their breakthrough but both had about 2000 PA in the majors by that time, about what Doumit has now.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      It might be a bit more common.
      I'm not suggesting it doesn't happen. In younger players like Hunter and Morneau, they were just developing these skills in their prime seasons and this is something you see routinely from players who are acclimating to the league. Both basically reached the point where they were matching their minor league walk rates. Doumit, as you mentioned, is entering his age-31 season. I don't envision a leap forward for him in the walk department but even a climb to 7-8% is not out of the question.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      > or made a concerted effort to improve his discipline

      I am a big fat loser.

      (If Parker can silently update his posting to make my reply look incomprehensible in retrospect, so can I, except for the silent part I guess.)
    1. bhiggum's Avatar
      bhiggum -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      > or made a conceited effort to improve his discipline

      Gardy will not put up with clubhouse cancers.
      Maybe as long as they have "
      a modern level of pop" he will. Antique levels of pop are not enough.

      Good read, I like to hear about what the newcomers on the team might bring to the table.
    1. Troy Larson's Avatar
      Troy Larson -
      I think what it comes down to is can the hitter adjust to the pitching. If a batter takes more pitches, the pitcher will then try to locate the ball in the strike zone more. The key is the hitter should no how to work the caught.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      I'm hoping Doumit's defense is as good as the team braintrust is apparently counting on him to be, and that his offense is strong with a full season of wear and tear.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      Ha. Thank you for pointing out the errors in the piece. You are a big fat winner in my book.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      Ha. Thank you for pointing out the errors in the piece. You are a big fat winner in my book.
      You had me at "big fat".
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