Desmond Jennings of the Tampa Bay Rays gave the Rays offense a boost since his arrival from the minor leagues. The Rays team batting average only went up from .243 to .246, but their OBP jumped from .312 to .334, and the team slugging percentage rose to .419 from .394. They were scoring 4.15 runs per game through July 22, but since they've averaged 4.64 runs per game.
Jennings brings excellent strike zone judgment to the Rays. He seldom chases balls outside the strike zone. The following table shows the 2011 major league players with the lowest chase percentage, minimum 200 PA.
|Batter||Team||Plate App.||Chase Pct.||OBPct||Walk%|
I like this list, because it shows that players with good judgment on balls outside the strike zone are not necessarily good hitters. Some players, like Sam Fuld, Lou Marson and Mike Cameron use their ability to recognize balls to compensate for poor hitting skills. Chris Iannetta, Nick Swisher and Jack Cust use this ability to draw tons of walks and boost their OBP above league average. Desmond is more like Dustin Ackley and Todd Helton, good hitters with good strike zone judgment. They are not only good at recognizing pitches out of the strike zone, they are good at recognizing pitches they can hit and smacking them as well. If Jennings can keep this up as the league learns his strengths and weakness, Rays fans won't miss Carl Crawford very much.