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June 21, 2013

BP Unfiltered

The Longest Plate Appearance of the Week, 6/21

by Ben Lindbergh


Longest Plate Appearance of the Week, 6/13-6/19
June 19, Rockies at Blue Jays
Neil Wagner vs. D.J. LeMahieu, 14 pitches (one short of 2013 record)

Length: 5:30
Mound visits: 1
LeMahieu’s longest previous plate appearance: 10 pitches
Previous longest plate appearance vs. Wagner: 11 pitches
2013 League-average P/PA: 3.84
LeMahieu P/PA: 3.76
Danks P/PA against: 4.58
Previous match-up history: None

Every Thursday I run a query on the BP database that returns the longest plate appearances of the previous week, and in the 0.411 seconds it takes to finish, I hope that the names at the top of the results list will be big ones (because you might want to read about them) or intriguing ones (because I might want to write about them). This week, the names at the top of the list were Neil Wagner and D.J. LeMahieu. Okay! Not exactly how I would’ve wanted that to go, but I’m doing the damn thing anyway.

You might be wondering who or what a Neil Wagner is. I know I am! Wagner is a 29-year-old, right-handed career reliever about whom we wrote this in Baseball Prospectus 2013: “Neil Wagner is a prospect because he packs some serious heat and strikes guys out, but he’s still looking for a second pitch.” He’s not literally looking for a second pitch—he has a slider, which he’s thrown about a quarter of the time in his 10 1/3 innings this season. (He’s also thrown 10 changeups, according to Brooks Baseball.) The implication of that sentence is that the slider isn’t very good, although it seems to work against Triple-A hitters—Wagner struck out 32 of them in 20 1/3 innings at Buffalo this season. But in the majors this season (small sample), Wagner’s slider has a 22.2 percent whiff/swing rate, which, for reference, is half the whiff/swing rate of Clayton Kershaw’s slider.

The “packs serious heat” part is true: Wagner’s average four-seamer has averaged 96.3 mph. But because of the second-pitch problem, Wagner seems to have trouble finishing hitters off. He threw 4.26 pitches per plate appearance in Triple-A, and that rate has risen since his promotion.

LeMahieu is a 24-year-old utility infielder type who’s been playing base with Josh Rutledge filling in for the injured Troy Tulowitzki at short. He’s a high-BABIP type who hits a ton of grounders and beats out infield hits, but has little power.

So:

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<< Previous Article
Overthinking It: To Sl... (06/21)
<< Previous Column
BP Unfiltered: Hot Pro... (06/21)
Next Column >>
BP Unfiltered: Never M... (06/26)
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Premium Article Eyewitness Accounts: J... (06/21)

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