18 January 2017

Some Details About Trey Mancini's 2016 AAA Season

Joe Reisel's Archives

Photo courtesy of Les Treagus / Norfolk Tides.
As an milb.com datacaster and as a scorer for Baseball Info Solutions, I watch a lot of Norfolk Tides games. And I tend to focus on the "little picture" - I get absorbed in what's happening right there and right then, in front of me. That's my job; I record each pitch and play results, be it the first inning, the sixth inning of an 11-2 blowout, or the bottom of the ninth of a tie game. Needless to say, at times the pitches, plays, and batters all blur together. The plays I remember are plays that are dramatic or crucial, that can break through the rhythm of balls, strikes, fouls, and balls put into play. An unfortunate (for me) consequence is that my impressions of players are overinfluenced by those dramatic moments.

And so my impressions of Trey Mancini are less positive than perhaps they should be, based on his statistical line. I remember several close games, in which the Tides were tied or trailing by one run, when Mancini - who usually batted third - came to the plate with runners in scoring position. And, based on his earlier performance in similar situations, I expected him to swing-and-miss at the first pitch and subsequently make an out, failing to drive in a run or even advance the runners.

But was this perception accurate? During the season, did Mancini swing at the first pitch? When he did swing, how often did he miss? How many pitches did he see during his at-bats? I could review my scoresheets (yes, I have to keep scoresheets on paper during my games and yes, I keep them - I have four binders with eleven years' worth of Norfolk Tides scoresheets) and spot the specific instances I remember. But that would be so few plate appearances as to have little value. Instead, I looked at all of Mancini's plate appearances in games I scored. Over the season, I have records of 44 of Mancini's games, encompassing 188 plate appearances.

Did Trey Mancini tend to swing at the first pitch?

Not in the games I scored, no.. He took the first pitch 123 times and swung at the first pitch 65 times. He put the ball in play 15 times, and was hit by the first pitch once.

How did he do when he saw only one pitch in an at-bat?

Not terribly well in the games I saw. He had only four hits in the fifteen at-bats - but three of those hits were home runs. Adding his HBP, that gave him a slash line of .267/.313/.867 when he saw only one pitch in a plate appearance. The slugging percentage is nice, but the on-base percentage and (especially) the batting average are lower than usual for a one-pitch plate appearance.

How many pitches did he see in a typical plate appearance?

Just under four in the games I saw - 3.99 to be precise to the hundredths place. A complete breakdown follows:

1 pitch: 16 PA
2 pitches: 26 PA
3 pitches: 43 PA
4 pitches: 28 PA
5 pitches: 33 PA
6 pitches: 25 PA
7 pitches: 12 PA
8 pitches: 4 PA
10 pitches: 1 PA

What did he do with all these pitches?

Called Balls: 268
Called Strikes: 114
Swinging Strikes: 114
Foul Balls: 123
Put in Play: 117

It's noteworthy that 37.78% of his plate appearances ended without the ball being put in play. At first glance, that seemed high. And it is a little bit high for Mancini; overall with the Tides he put the ball in play in 32.65% of his plate appearances. For comparison, 28.16% of the Norfolk Tides plate appearances ended without the ball being put in play; for the International League as a whole, the figure is 28.92%.

The main takeaway from this review is that my impression of Mancini as an overaggressive hitter was wrong. He didn't swing at the first pitch an inordinate amount of time; he did see a reasonable number of pitches per plate appearance. There isn't any reason for me to be concerned that Mancini is too aggressive and that aggressiveness will be a flaw exposed at the major league level.


Roger said...

Yeah, but the three HR's are still pretty nice..... Especially as Norfolk is a pitcher's park.

Anonymous said...

Remember how Eddie Murray was just put in at DH, then the rest is history!

Anonymous said...

The same opinion is said about Adam Brett Walker in that he is too aggressive and strikes out too much. The fact is that he is very much like Adam Jones and Trey Mancini and takes too many first pitch strikes. The problem with ABW is that he is not as good of a contact hitter as Mancini which leads to the high strikeout rates. If he were more aggressive early in counts he would have an off the charts stat line just like Jones has when he connects early in count. Mancini is the man to have if we want OBP and average. Walker is the player to have if you want guaranteed power numbers with potential of average. Good column. Not many people look into ABs that closely to truly understand a hitters mindset.

Anonymous said...

Here's a funny stat: When leading off 110 AB's last year in Rochester, Adam Brett Walker hit:
.300 BA / .374 OBP / .618 SLG. / .992 OPS - Where's the logic? Lol

We all know that Mancini is the much better overall hitter, but posted numbers of:
.240 BA / .290 OBP / .310 SLG. / .600 OPS when leading off in 100 AB's

Sometimes players just defy logic and you have to let them play to find out best fit for your team.

Jacob W Smith said...

Ok, seriously, will you get off this ABW train? A competitive team cannot plan to go into a season using a player like that. He is a very poor fielder and hasn't even hit for average or gotten on base at a particularly impressive rate in the Minor Leagues. The only thing he provides is power, and when he doesn't, he is an absolute black hole. Any game in which he doesn't hit a home run he's overwhelmingly likely to be a negative for your team. If Carter can't get a job with his much better defense and batting eye, why would you expect ABW to play for a team that's trying to contend? It's nonsensical. For a non-contender, you could maybe afford to take a chance on him and see if he can be Rob Deer or Dave Kingman. But even those guys were not particularly valuable to a good team.

Anonymous said...

FWIW - Walker
Higher OPS - Scored more runs - more RBI and more extra base hits than Mancini in dame league.

Jon Shepherd said...

JWS - Dave Kingman had very solid contact in the minors. Rob Deer always had miserable contact, but he had an incredibly discerning eye. ABW is off in a completely different world of his own. I have yet to find anything like him at that level and the closest approximates were terrible (e.g., Mike Hessman).

Jacob W Smith said...

This is probably not worth arguing about, but Dave Kingman was 6th in the PCL in strikeouts in 1971 with fewer PAs than anybody else in the top 19. Of the handful of players with a worse K rate only Luzinski made the Majors for more than a cup of coffee. Regarding Deer I tend to agree with you, I probably should have stuck with one name.

Jacob W Smith said...

Actually, Trumbo makes a decent high-upside comp, but he was a much better minor league hitter than Walker has been.

Pip said...

Very good article but I was hoping for splits as well.
I was led to believe that Mancini is only worthwhile against LHP, his his splits at BBR show he was almost as good against RHP.
If that's true, and his contact/walk Rate are ok, then his inexperience probably shouldn't count against him, especially given the roster crunch.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you have a Trumbo article coming.

The Orioles need two roster spots addressed: CO and 5th starter. How about a column on the available free agents at both positions? The Orioles have a short window to compete for a pennant or WS with so many key players in one and two-year deals. I think they shore up both spots before the season. Who might we see in an O's uniform next year?

Roger said...

I think the O's are done at SP and CO. They could use a decent hitting Util IF (wish they had signed Valbuena). It would be nice if they had one more late inning RP (maybe Holland??). Between Bundy and Wilson/Wright/Verrett, you have a nice rotating set of 5th SP and/or swingmen. The CO/DH will be Kim/Smith/Trumbo (DH) against RH and Rickard/Trumbo/Mancini (DH) against lefties. Rickard and Mancini give some new blood and proficiency against lefties. I assume Tavarez will be a late inning defensive specialist and PR (and backup CF). If Miley and Jimenez can do anything good then this team will be better than advertised.

Anonymous said...

No longer a worry for the Orioles, but I ask you:
Name the last prospect in the Orioles organization or any organization who led 3 consecutive leagues in HR / RBI / and TB? And for the record, Walker had a K rate of 20% in one of those seasons (2013). Walker has shown crazy K rates in each of the last 3 seasons, but for some reason it has not affected his production numbers (ISO / w/RC+ & wOBA). Maybe he clears waivers this time and gets to prove me right in Norfolk.

Jon Shepherd said...

Mike Hessian maybe. Lots of power means HRs, RBIs, and TB. Having terrible contact means you stick at a level and play the whole season while others who can rack up numbers get promoted.

Again, scouts are typically the way to go here. Unless, Walker is the most unique powe hitter in history.

Anonymous said...

He is an anomaly. I can not find anyone who has led their respective leagues for 3 consecutive seasons in HRs / RBI / TB / XBH while playing at 3 separate leagues & levels. Your above point is true about others getting promoted and Walker staying at level to rack up numbers. That being said - He is also "That player" who has never had the chance to repeat a level either. All his work is done 1 level at a time. The assumption is that he will finally fail at the MLB level. Past history shows flaws and the great ability to still produce regardless to level. Scouts may be right, but it is rough to see a kid held back based on Assumptions, when all they've done is win and produce. Anomaly or as you say most unique power hitter in history. Even fan graph believes Walker will be productive despite his amazing flaws.


Best BABIP on team (I know contact contact) - but worth giving a shot an not missing out on a potential special player.

Jon Shepherd said...

Anon - please be sure to understand your source material. For starters, FanGraphs is presenting ZiPS. FanGraphs is not ZiPS. Dan Szymborski is the author of ZiPS and I chat with him. A few weeks back we specifically chatted on Walker. Neither of us share a flattering view of him. Second, ZiPS has Walker as a below replacement level player at -0.2 fWAR. If you are going to point toward a metric to show Walker being productive, you should point toward one that actually says he would be productive. Being sandwiched between Paul Janish and Nolan Reimold is not a good thing and it should not be presented as such. Third, the assumption is that past players can be used to draw comparisons to project future performance. The assumption is not that Walker will fail. The assumption is that the comparisions used to project Walker actually relate to Walker. Other players will similar skill sets by and large do not succeed, which is why teams think Walker will not succeed. BABIP is a metric with weak projection on ZIPS. Regardless, that is more reflective of him generating hard hit balls as I mentioned in an earlier comment. Finally, that there might be some probability that Walker is special does not negate that more conventionally potentially special players exist.