Allen Craig and All of Those Ground Balls

In case you haven’t noticed, Allen Craig’s ground ball rate has jumped rather drastically (55% so far this year, compared to 45% last year according to Fangraphs).  While we’re still operating in relative small sample size land, it’s still a rather alarming jump, so much so that I wanted to get some historical context.  With that goal I grabbed all of the seasons of greater than 250 plate appearances since 2007( rather arbitrary cut-offs, but good enough for illustration purposes), and looked for seasons with at least a 10% increase in ground ball rate.  I found only 26 such instances in the sample, of which 4 of them are this season.  The following table has the full list

Name Season1 Season2 GB1 GB2 wOBA1 wOBA2 PA1 PA2 s2-s1 wOBA
Allen Craig 2013 2014 45 55 0.363 0.305 563 307 -0.058
Andruw Jones 2009 2010 34.4 44.4 0.337 0.362 331 328 0.025
Carlos Guillen 2009 2010 36.3 49.8 0.333 0.327 322 275 -0.006
Carlos Pena 2009 2010 29 44.9 0.377 0.325 570 582 -0.052
Carlos Pena 2012 2013 37.2 49.7 0.309 0.298 600 328 -0.011
Chipper Jones 2010 2011 38.1 49.3 0.356 0.348 381 512 -0.008
Cody Ross 2009 2010 33 45.6 0.342 0.322 604 569 -0.02
David Eckstein 2007 2008 40.7 51.4 0.33 0.314 484 376 -0.016
David Murphy 2010 2011 44.2 54.2 0.354 0.32 471 440 -0.034
Domonic Brown 2013 2014 42.4 54.1 0.351 0.263 540 276 -0.088
Eric Hinske 2010 2011 33 45.5 0.342 0.315 320 264 -0.027
Felix Pie 2009 2010 40.8 51.1 0.331 0.314 281 308 -0.017
Hanley Ramirez 2009 2010 38.6 51 0.407 0.369 652 619 -0.038
Howie Kendrick 2013 2014 51.3 66 0.336 0.321 513 314 -0.015
Ian Kinsler 2009 2010 30.1 40.1 0.351 0.355 640 460 0.004
John Mayberry 2011 2012 41.8 51.8 0.368 0.303 296 479 -0.065
Julio Lugo 2007 2008 46.4 59.5 0.286 0.315 630 307 0.029
Kevin Kouzmanoff 2010 2011 42.9 53.9 0.296 0.287 586 257 -0.009
Luis Castillo 2009 2010 58.6 70.4 0.334 0.284 580 299 -0.05
Manny Ramirez 2009 2010 32.7 43 0.398 0.383 431 320 -0.015
Marlon Byrd 2009 2010 40.5 52.2 0.346 0.343 599 630 -0.003
Michael Morse 2011 2012 44 55.3 0.39 0.34 575 430 -0.05
Placido Polanco 2011 2012 42.4 55.6 0.303 0.279 523 328 -0.024
Reed Johnson 2011 2012 43.4 56.7 0.355 0.322 266 288 -0.033
Robinson Cano 2013 2014 44.3 54.8 0.384 0.366 681 302 -0.018
Ryan Howard 2007 2008 31.5 41.5 0.397 0.368 648 700 -0.029

As you can see only 3 players in the sample actually had a higher wOBA in the second season than the first.  With that in mind let’s be the pessimist for a moment and have his current ground ball rate hypothetically continue through the season.  How did these players that had drastic increases in ground ball rate hit in season 3?  the following table summarizes the results for those players that had at least 250 PAs in year 3.

Name GB1 GB2 GB3 wOBA1 wOBA2 wOBA3 PA1 PA2 PA3 S2-S1 WOBA s3-s2WOBA s3-s1 wOBA
Ryan Howard 31.5 41.5 36.2 0.397 0.368 0.392 648 700 703 -0.029 0.024 -0.005
David Murphy 44.2 54.2 43.4 0.354 0.32 0.369 471 440 521 -0.034 0.049 0.015
Ian Kinsler 30.1 40.1 35.3 0.351 0.355 0.364 640 460 723 0.004 0.009 0.013
Chipper Jones 38.1 49.3 46 0.356 0.348 0.36 381 512 448 -0.008 0.012 0.004
Carlos Pena 29 44.9 37.3 0.377 0.325 0.356 570 582 606 -0.052 0.031 -0.021
Julio Lugo 46.4 59.5 40.5 0.286 0.315 0.335 630 307 293 0.029 0.02 0.049
Cody Ross 33 45.6 34 0.342 0.322 0.321 604 569 461 -0.02 -0.001 -0.021
Hanley Ramirez 38.6 51 50.9 0.407 0.369 0.317 652 619 385 -0.038 -0.052 -0.09
Marlon Byrd 40.5 52.2 50.1 0.346 0.343 0.317 599 630 482 -0.003 -0.026 -0.029
John Mayberry 41.8 51.8 42.8 0.368 0.303 0.298 296 479 384 -0.065 -0.005 -0.07
David Eckstein 40.7 51.4 46.1 0.33 0.314 0.296 484 376 568 -0.016 -0.018 -0.034
Michael Morse 44 55.3 44.7 0.39 0.34 0.286 575 430 337 -0.05 -0.054 -0.104
Placido Polanco 42.4 55.6 48.3 0.303 0.279 0.279 523 328 416 -0.024 0 -0.024

This news is at least somewhat promising.  It’s not unheard of for a player to have a season’s jump in ground ball rate and “bounce back” the following year.  In fact most of the changes from year 1 to year 3 would fall under “standard aging”.

  • Buddhasillegitimatechild38

    That makes me feel a little better but I still want Craig platooning first and RF with adams and Taveras. Also I want all of the shoulders fixed

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