Without further ado, let's get to the fun part of analyzing the data clusters. In this post I will analyze the first three clusters. But before we get started let's take a look at each clusters overall performance in 2018. Keep in mind each cluster is grouped based on plate discipline metrics (O.Swing, Z.Swing, O.Contact, Z.Contact, Swing Strike%)
Cluster 1- High Swing- Low Contact Sluggers
The first cluster grouped hitters together that swing often and have a high whiff rate. We also see that this group has lower contact rates both in and out of the zone but have higher than average swing rates. It's interesting that a majority of the players in this cluster could be labeled more as sluggers, in that most of their value comes form their slugging ability. When players have big discrepancy between their swing and contact rates, its imperative that they make excellent contact when they do connect. That means you need to be able to hit the ball in directions, speeds and angles that optimize performance. Guys like Stanton, Cruz, Upton , and Schwarber do this well. Some other, like Ian Desmond, who has a very low pull % and notably low average launch angle, does not.
Ian Desmond has the kind of pop where this approach could benefit him, but you can see that he has an extremely low pull percentage compared to all qualified batters and especially this particular cluster. Jonathan Villar doesn't stick out as a guy with a particular amount of raw power so I would say it might be best to alter his approach in order t fit in a plate discipline cluster that fits his skill set better.
Cody Bellinger, Tim Anderson has seemingly fixed their low contact abilities, while Moncada has become much more patient at the plate in 2019.
Cluster 2- Slightly Below Average Whiff Above Average Contact Rate
The second cluster sees players that have below average swing and miss ability with an above average contact ability. While there may not be something sexy about this cluster because there is nothing that stands out drastically, it doesn't mean its a usable strategy in regards to plate discipline. Interestingly enough there are a lot of hitters in this that use the opposite field that have significantly above average wRC+. It should be explored more, but for players who's plate discipline approach fit this cluster it might be possible to use the opposite field more than other hitters.
Roughned Odor sure has an awful BB:K ratio for a guy in this profile. He is also a guy that personifies three true outcomes, I'd be curious if a move to more 'slug' focused approach might help him. Xander Bogaerts seems to be the best model in this cluster. Xander has one of the highest barrel rates in the MLB so having a more reserved approach combined with his batted ball ability suits him well.
Cluster 3- Bat Controllers
This cluster is very interesting. Each member has an extremely low whiff rates and extremely high contact rates compared to league average. These guys have elite bat to ball ability, however, that doesn't necessarily make you an elite hitter. A couple weeks ago I did correlation analysis between contact rates and wRC+ and there really is no significant correlation. This really demonstrates how much exit velocity, launch angle and even spray angle can affect a players performance.
Votto is really in his own category, as demonstrated by his insane discipline on swinging out of the zone. The players in this cluster with poor wRC+ (Rojas,V-Mart, Solarte, Gordon, Peraza) all have extremely low % of hard hit balls. Without the ability to slug, it's extremely difficult to be an elite level hitter even with elite contact skills.