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« HR Recap: Troy Tulowitzki vs. Paul Maholm (4/7/11) | Main | L.A. Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw: Early Season Pitch Breakdown »

Fukudome's Discipline

Kosuke Fukudome represents a player whose batting average does not reflect his offensive value.  The Cubs outfielder owns a .260 career batting average.  That's not bad, but it's certainly not great for this era.  What Fukudome does very well is draw walks, which gives him a .370 OBP, 110 points above his batting average.  Judged on his OBP, Fukudome becomes an excellent offensive player, perfect for a lead off role.

Fukudome discipline at the plate is best seen in this swing rate heat map:

Kosuke Fukudome career swing rate.Not only does he do a great job of keeping his swings in the strike zone, he concentrates them in the upper half of the zone.  There's a good reason for his, as Fukudome has a limited zone of success in the zone:

Kosuke Fukudome career in play average.His hot zone looks like a comma turned upside down.  This suggests to me that Kosuke's high walk rate is more necessity than skill.  Unless the ball is right down the middle of the plate, he doesn't hit that well.  To be successful with a low average, Fukudome needs to pick his pitches extremely well.  He swings at pitches he can hit, and takes enough outside of the strike zone to draw walks.

Interestingly, pitchers seem to approach Fukudome incorrectly:

Koskue Fukudome career pitch frequency.They pitch him down, but not down enough, leaving plenty of pitches right in the middle of the plate.  The best place to pitch him, however, is inside, and pitchers avoid that part of the plate.  If they start busting him inside, pitchers might start turning more of his batted balls into outs.

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