Nineteen At-Bats

Nineteen at-bats.  That's all we've seen from Brandon Wood in 2010.  Nineteen at-bats.  Yet, there seems to be panic among some Angel fans that Wood needs to be sat in favor of Maicer Izturis.  Nineteen at-bats isn't a small sample size, it's a microscopic sample size, and shouldn't be used to predict future production.  However, nineteen at-bats can be looked at in order to see "what happened" and why after those nineteen at-bats has Wood generated growing skepticism in his hitting ability.  Let's take a closer look at those nineteen at-bats. 

First Pitch
In his first nineteen at-bats of 2010, Wood has swung the bat 4 times.  And of those first nineteen at-bats, the pitcher has thrown Wood a first-pitch fastball (two-seam, four-seam, and cut) 12 out of 19 times.  In those 12 at-bats, Wood took the pitch for a strike 7 times, fouled off 2, took 2 for balls, and grounded out once (Wood hasn't swung at and missed the first pitch this season).

 

Ball

Strike Swinging

Strike Looking

In Play

1st pitch

4

2

11

2

 

Fastball

Curve

Slider

Change

1st pitch

12

2

4

1

After the first pitch, Wood is behind in the count in all but 4 at-bats.
(Note: strike swinging includes foul balls)

Second Pitch
Now that Wood has taken the first pitch, his typical at-bat has him swinging at the second pitch, and that pitch could be anything.   Pitchers have thrown an even amount of fastballs, sliders and change ups to Wood, but the result is the same, Wood will swing at it if it's close.

 

Ball

Swinging

Looking

In Play

2nd pitch

4

9

1

2

 

Fastball

Curve

Slider

Change

2nd pitch

6

1

5

5

Wood is behind 0-2 in 8 of his at-bats.

Third Pitch
If Wood's at-bat lasts until the third pitch he's swinging at that pitch (only 6 of Wood's at-bats have lasted longer than 3 pitches).  Wood has not taken a third pitch for a ball in any of his at-bats this season and the only time he's taken a strike is when he was ahead 2-0 and when he didn't swing at a curveball.  Otherwise he's hacking.

 

Ball

Swinging

Looking

In Play

3rd pitch

0

7

2

6

 

Fastball

Curve

Slider

Change

3rd pitch

8

2

3

2

Of those 7 swinging strikes, just 2 were fouled off.  What's troublesome is typically a pitcher will "waste" a pitch when he has a batter down 0-2 and Wood is swinging at a pitch that is usually out of the strike zone.

Conclusion
So far this season, the typical Wood at-bat goes like this; Take a first-pitch fastball for strike one, swing at the next pitch regardless of the type, and then he'll swing through a fastball or be fooled by an off-speed pitch for strike three.   Obviously Wood is "pressing" and appears over anxious in his nineteen at-bats.  Playing an air chair psychologist, it seems Wood is laying off the first pitch in order to not appear over anxious, but once that first pitch is out of the way, he's hacking...at anything.   As shown in the below graph, he's swinging and missing at pitches either out of the zone or over-matched on fastballs. 

Hr_sm

The good news is he's only swung and missed 10 times this season (out of 65 pitches).  The bad news, not putting good swings on pitches in the zone.

Pitch Called Swing Ball Contact Total
Fastball 9 6 7 12 34
Curve 3 2 0 0 5
Slider 2 1 3 9 15
Change 1 1 3 6 11

 

It might be time for Wood to swing at a few of those first-pitch fastballs, at least until pitchers stop throwing them.

(Thanks to Joe Lefkowitz's PitchF/X Tool for the pitch fx data)

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