Deconstructing: Cristian Guzman
Plate patience is supposed to be a virtue among major league hitters. But at what point do you separate plate impatience from aggressiveness? Either adjective could be used to describe
If you thought it wasn't possible for a player to take just one walk in 124 plate appearances and still maintain a .385 batting average, well, don't place money down that it couldn't happen -- it already has. That's Guzman's basic hitting line -- through May 18 -- and it's a most unusual one.
One look at Guzman's BABIP makes it seem as though every day is his birthday. There's almost no other explanation for the rash of good luck he's experienced. How high is that BABIP? Try .442. (You can sound a lot cooler around your friends if you call it 'babe-ip', although you're already in nerd territory if you use it in the first place.)
Just for a frame of reference, Guzman's career BABIP mark is .309 and he held a .339 mark just to hit .316 last year. That, my Deconstructing friends, indicates he will not keep his .385 average for much longer. Shocker, I know.
Now, the next level to hit in the Guzman Batting Average Investigation is to see if his plate impatience this year is consistent with his past season. (From here, I'm calling it impatience, not aggressiveness.)
It's difficult to match his impatience in any other season since his walk percentage is at 0.8, but by and large, Guzman's batting style has never been confused for
Of course, patience won't suddenly become a trait of Guzman. According to a May 5 MLB.com story, Nats manager
It's good that Acta mentioned the 'jumping on first, second and third pitches' bit. Guzman has faced a 3-0 count just once this year (that preceded his lone walk). He's been in a 2-0 count only four times, a 3-1 count three times and a 2-1 count all of nine times. After knocking 14 hits in 24 at-bats (.583) on the first pitch, though, it's hard to argue with Guzman's impatience for right now. It's just what is going to happen later this year that might want to make fantasy owners sell high on the shortstop as soon as possible.
Aside from his sky-high BABIP (remember, 'babe-ip'), there are other indications that his batting average is flukey. He holds just a 11.4 line drive percentage, down 11 percent from last year, and a 62.9 ground ball percentage, up 10 percent. When a hitter improves his batting average despite hitting more ground balls and fewer line drives, that's a time when you hope a player in your fantasy league looks at surface stats like batting average without delving into more telling stats.
His swing percentage at balls outside the strike zone has increased, from 27.9 percent last year to 34.6 percent, but his contact percentage on those swings has actually decreased, from 71.2 to 68.8. His overall contact percentage has decreased as well, from 88.3 to 85.5. If you're asking yourself how it's possible for a player's batting average to increase despite his contact percentage decreasing, well, you might want to re-read the first few paragraphs of this story.
A decreased walk rate, improved luck on batted balls, increased ground ball percentage, lowered line drive percentage and decreased contact percentage have all contributed to raise his batting average immeasurably.
If you have Guzman, you want to sell high as soon as possible. Don't be unreasonable in trading him for