06 August 2015

What's The Deal With Paredes?

Jimmy Paredes helped power the Orioles offense at the beginning of the season, but has been mostly ineffective since July.  He only had two extra base hits in July and had a miniscule OBP of just .266. Despite being 26, Parades has had limited exposure to the major leagues before this season and has already set a career high for plate appearances. Do his July struggles indicate that he is merely in a slump or that pitchers have figured him out and that he’s regressing back towards his career statistics?

This first chart provides an excellent summary of his performance this season (stats downloaded from ESPN Stats and Information and accurate as of 8/2). Paredes has had limited exposure to left-handed pitchers and has mostly struggled against them with only a .583 OPS in 53 PAs. He received 22 PAs against left-handed pitching in May and put up an .182/.182/.227 line with a 31.8 K% and no walks. He’s only received 26 PAs against left-handed pitching since May and therefore isn’t used much against left-handed pitching. This indicates that he is nothing more than a platoon DH bat against solely right-handed pitching at the moment.

As the season has progressed, his strikeout rate has increased while his HR% has decreased. It is apparent that one of the main reasons why he was successful from April through June was due to a high BABIP.

This next chart shows how Paredes has performed vs hard pitches (Fastballs, Sinkers and Cutters) and soft pitches (Changeup, Curveball, Slider and Splitter) per month against solely right handed pitchers. One reason he struggled in July was because he was incapable of making contact with soft pitches and hit a large percentage of hard pitches into foul territory. Paredes is a very aggressive batter that doesn’t draw many walks, doesn’t have great contact rates and therefore needs to be productive when he does make contact.

The next chart shows how Parades has performed based on the type of pitch that he faced and whether or not it was put into play against only right handed pitching and shows another reason for his issues. He is successful when he puts balls into play regardless of whether they’re hard or soft pitches. However, in July, he was surprisingly unsuccessful against hard pitches and only hit 1 home run and 3 singles in twenty chances good for a .550 OPS (wOBA of .241). He performed exceptionally against “soft” pitches but his ISO is showing a downward trend.

This next chart shows his performance based on whether he puts the ball into play in a pitchers count (0-1, 0-2, 1-2, 2-2), hitters count (1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1) or even count (0-0, 1-1, 3-2) by month. The results are surprising because they indicate that he performed worst when making contact in a hitters count in July. In fact, the only time he got an extra base hit in July was in a pitchers count. This chart also shows that Paredes can be successful whenever in the count he makes contact. Indeed, when Parades put the ball in play, he was the 48th best batter out of 373 in pitchers counts, the 54th best out of 355 in even counts and the 25th best out of 296 batters in hitters’ counts against solely right handed pitching. These ranks suggest that his results are within the realm of reason and may be sustainable.

The next chart shows his performance based on whether the last pitch he sees is in a pitchers, hitter or even count by month regardless of whether he makes contact. The data indicate that most of his at-bats ended in a pitchers count and that he was struck out in about half of them. In July, he was struck out 60% of the time when an at bat ended in a pitchers count. It also indicates that he had a poor month, regardless of the count.

The bottom line is that Paredes is struggling because he’s unable to make consistent contact and therefore earns a large number of strikeouts. In order to be a valuable player, he needs to produce when he puts the ball into play and he simply wasn’t able to do that in July. It seems that he partially regressed and was partially in a slump.

Paredes should be seen as a project. It is difficult to give up on a player that is able to hit the ball with such authority and already has a very good tool. If he can find a way to better recognize soft pitches, then he’ll likely be able to make better contact and perhaps slightly cut down on his strikeouts. 

As this chart below shows, Paredes does have an ability to lay off pitches early in the count (0-0, 1-0, 0-1) when he swings only 53.7% of the time. In these counts, he ends up having a 31.3 CallBall% and a wOBA of .480. In the middle of the count (1-1, 2-1, 2-0), he swings 64.6% of the time and ends up with a 25.8 CallBall% and a wOBA of .407. If he can find a way to be a more patient and willing to accept a called strike, than it would mean he would likely swing at fewer pitches outside of the strike zone. Paredes has a .441 wOBA in these counts when hitting pitches in the strike zone and a .307 wOBA when swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, so this would be beneficial for him.

Buck said there's a good chance Paredes will come back next spring as a candidate to play regularly in right field. If he is able to play in right field, then he could potentially be a good platoon partner with Dariel Alvarez with Alvarez facing lefties and Paredes facing righties. Paredes won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2017 and doesn’t promise to be a player that will receive a large amount in arbitration. Such a platoon would have a strong chance of being successful and cheap for the next four years and thereby allow the Orioles to spend money on higher quality free agents.

Despite his July struggles, Paredes appears to be a promising piece. The Orioles’ may want to limit his at bats if he keeps struggling, but should try to keep him on the roster for next year and see if he can further develop.


Jeremy said...

Good piece. To me, what it boils down to for Paredes and Schoop is that they are not Adam Jones, and cannot succeed as AJ clones at the plate. Jones has the very unusual ability to hit balls out of the strike zone and often with authority. The other two - especially Paredes - do not. They do, however, have enough bat speed and hit+power tool to be successful if they are more selective. So the simple answer for both has been, stop swinging at bad pitches. Even if they remain ineffective on balls just outside the zone, if they could only stop swinging at the eye-level and in-the-dirt cringers it would make quite a difference. Schoop, it seems, has made that small adjustment, as suggested by the following improvements from 2014 to 2015:

-O-Swing % (from 41.5% down to 36.5%)
-Hard-hit ball % (from 26% up to 34.6%)

Compare to Paredes, whose O-Swing % has increased from 42.1% to 43.1 % (one of the highest marks in the league) and makes a toxic combination with his O-Contact % of 51.3%. It adds up to Paredes easily leading the league in swinging strike % which, as you point out, means he needs to really make it count when he puts the ball in play. I'm not terribly optimistic that he's able to make the necessary adjustment, but I certainly hope to be proven wrong.

Matt Perez said...

Schoop is getting better in that regard. So has Machado.

The funny thing about Paredes is that he does have a .377/.377/.551 line (.406 wOBA) when putting the ball into play against pitches out of the strike zone against righties combined in 2014 and 2015. That extra data makes him look worse; he has a .426/.426/.593 line just in 2015.

The challenge that he'll have is that he actually has very good results when making contact regardless of where the pitch is located. And realistically, he doesn't do a good job making contact regardless of where the pitch is located either. It will be very hard to convince him that he needs to swing less frequently when he has trouble making contact in any event (and therefore wants to maximize his chances at putting the ball into play) and when he sees that he has successful results if he can just hit the darn thing. The question isn't whether he can make the necessary adjustment but whether you can convince him to do so.

In contrast, Jones has a .297/.297/.403 line in the same situations in 2015 and a .295/.288/.361 line in those situations in 2014. Now, Jones is very good at putting bad pitches into play but he's not doing particularly well against them. It was probably easier to convince Jones to be more patient because he could see how it would help him.

Jeremy said...

Very interesting. Where do you find data on balls in play against pitches out of the strike zone? Those numbers are crazy.

You're right, comparatively he doesn't do a good job putting the ball in play regardless of where the pitch is, but there's a big difference between 51% (O-Contact) and 79% (Z-Contact).

Matt Perez said...

I don't think the data I used is publicly available. Camden Depot writers have access to data not available to the general public.

Contact stats aren't served well in any portal I've seen. My understanding is that foul balls are considered contact by Fangraphs so those 51% and 79% numbers include foul balls. That's technically accurate but not very helpful in determining Paredes' ability to put the ball into play because a foul ball doesn't help him much.

The problem is that not only does Paredes miss nearly half the time when the ball isn't in the strike zone, but he also fouls off the ball another 28% of the time. He only puts the ball in play 23% of the time when the pitch is out of the strike zone. He has the 138th highest InPlay% (out of 157 batters) and the 4th highest Swing% in those situations.

When the ball is in the strike zone, he only misses 29% of the time but fouls the ball off 37% of the time. Consequently, he's only putting the ball in play 36% of the time. That's good for 149th highest InPlay% and 12th highest Swing%.

There's still a huge difference between 36% and 23% but the similarity is that they're both poor especially in their given circumstances.

This isn't necessarily a disaster. Power hitters often struggle in this area. But it's a challenge that he needs to address.

Jeremy said...

That's what I suspected (re: availability of the data). You make a good point about contact stats, and I do wish the publicly available data were a bit more granular. I love trying to figure out what makes players tick but I'm no scout so I depend heavily on the data I can find.

In any case, thanks for the discussion and for the OP. I always appreciate these sorts of statistical deep dives.