Trade Target Brainstorm: Marlon Byrd (3. Charts & Graphs)

&&8610985305_55c3303f16_z== Where he came from, where he ended up ==

We saw in the “Numbers” section, that Marlon Byrd arrived as a prospect as a potential “all-around” hitter: one who could hit with authority, draw walks and have a low strikeout rate — and also bring some speed.

And Byrd spent his first several seasons trying to be that guy.  Indeed, he started his career very selective at the plate.

The table below shows Byrd’s “outside-the-zone” swings, “inside-the-zone” swings, total swings and swinging-strike percentages.  The small column the right of each one is the difference between the MLB average for that year.

Years in which Byrd was more selective are in blue, and years in which he was more of a free swinger are in red.  Two seasons have limited data and are shaded gray.  The smaller column to the right is the difference between Byrd’s percentage and the MLB average for that year.

Season Team O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% SwStr%
2002 Phillies 9.40% -9% 60.50% -10% 40.30% -6% 11.20% 1%
2003 Phillies 20.70% -2% 66.80% -2% 45.30% -1% 9.90% 0%
2004 Phillies 21.00% 4% 69.00% -1% 47.30% 2% 9.90% 1%
2005 2 Teams 17.00% -3% 63.60% -4% 43.40% -3% 9.30% 1%
2006 Nationals 23.60% 0% 59.20% -7% 42.40% -4% 7.90% -1%
2007 Rangers 32.00% 7% 71.50% 5% 53.60% 8% 11.10% 3%
2008 Rangers 29.80% 4% 71.20% 6% 50.30% 4% 8.30% 0%
2009 Rangers 28.80% 4% 74.10% 8% 51.70% 6% 10.30% 2%
2010 Cubs 35.40% 6% 69.60% 5% 51.80% 6% 9.40% 1%
2011 Cubs 37.90% 7% 71.00% 6% 53.40% 7% 9.90% 1%
2012 2 Teams 36.00% 5% 68.90% 4% 51.70% 6% 10.10% 1%
2013 2 Teams 40.70% 10% 73.50% 8% 55.70% 9% 14.70% 5%
2014 Phillies 41.60% 11% 76.20% 11% 56.90% 11% 15.80% 7%

You can see that Byrd started off very selective: swinging at well less than 50% of pitches, and, in his year with the Nationals, even swinging at less than 60% of pitches in the strike zone.  While this approach kept his swing-and-miss percentage down, it wasn’t generating much offense.  [We might call this “Dustin Ackley Disease” but that’s another article.]

Once in Texas, he made a jolt upward in swing rate, found middle ground, and had a period of temporary overall success.  But eventually he ditched the middle ground as well.

===

Here’s graphic look at how Byrd’s K-rate and ISO changed over time:

mb1The “happy medium” he found in 2009 had faded away by 2011, and, as you can see, all pretense of being selective at the plate disappeared.  The swing rate jumped — inside and outside the zone — the swing-and-miss rate zoomed up, taking the K-rate with it … and, along with all this, suddenly Byrd was showing a level of power he’d never shown before.

===

Byrd made himself one-dimensional.  But he successfully made himself one-dimensional.

And now, in 2014, he’s making himself even more one-dimensional.  Is that possible?  Sub-one-dimensional?

Well, let’s look at those charts with handed-ness splits.  This one has wOBA (which is fangraphs.com’s preferred overall hitting stat) tacked on as well:

mb2We can see that for most of his career Byrd did not have huge splits in terms of power or overall value (just try to block out ’02 and ’12 which don’t have much data).  Yes, he was better vs. LHP, but not by massive margins.

But in 2014, Byrd has (so far) been slightly worse against RH pitching, but has been more valuable than ever vs. LHP.

So he’s gone from a selective hitter to free swinger to free swinger who connects mostly against lefties.

But he’s good at it.

And the Mariners could use what he’s good at.

But is it worth it?

Next part here.

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