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If you read Jorge Arangure Jr.’s great guest piece on Dominican players and plate discipline today, you may have wondered, as I did, whether we could see any difference between Dominicans and non-Dominicans in the data. Jorge mentioned how few Dominicans are among their respective leagues’ leaders in walk rate, but I wanted to see how DR-born players stacked up as a group. I asked BP data dude Dan Turkenkopf to run the numbers, and this is what he found for major leaguers in 2012. (Note: pitcher hitting is included, and the “league” rates include Dominican players.)

 

Pitches

Swing Rate

O_Swing_Rate

UIBB Rate

League

695953

46.0

29.2

7.4

Dominican

68823

47.4

31.3

7.0

Major leaguers born in the Dominican Republic did swing and chase slightly more often and walk slightly less often in 2012 (which doesn’t mean they were worse hitters overall). Of course, there could be some selection bias here, since Dominican players with worse plate discipline than Angel Berroa would be weeded out before they make the majors. We don’t have plate discipline stats for minor leaguers, but we can check their unintentional walk rates:

Level

LG_PA

LG_UIBBR

DO_PA

DO_UIBBR

DIFF

MLB

184179

7.4%

18547

7.0%

0.4%

Triple-A

164927

8.4%

12369

5.8%

2.6%

Double-A

158288

8.6%

14860

6.5%

2.1%

A Adv. (Full Season)

156140

8.2%

15508

6.4%

1.9%

A (Full Season)

158317

8.6%

18018

7.0%

1.6%

A (Short Season)

63737

8.6%

9606

6.4%

2.2%

Rookie

79243

8.6%

12741

7.1%

1.4%

The differences in walk rate are more pronounced in the minors, though the gaps don’t grow at the lower levels—we see the biggest separation at Triple-A, at least this season.

Something else it’s important to note: some players in the “Dominican” group were born in the Dominican Republic but played in the United States as amateurs and were drafted, not signed as international free agents. These players—including Albert Pujols and Jose Bautista—didn’t receive the same sort of swing-happy instruction Jorge wrote about, so we checked to make sure that they weren't skewing the results. Take those players out, and we see some slight changes in the Dominican-born (and Dominican-raised) group at the major-league level: swing rate rises from 47.4 percent to 47.8 percent, O_Swing rate rises from 31.3 percent to 31.7 percent, and walk rate falls from 7.0 percent to 6.8 percent. As expected, the Dominican-born, U.S.-raised players in the sample weren't saddled with the same impatient approach.

Thanks to Dan Turkenkopf and Colin Wyers for research assistance.

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jfranco77
10/23
I'm actually surprised the gaps are bigger in the minors. I thought everyone was a hacker in the low minors, even the US-born kids.
dianagramr
10/24
This is great stuff .... really interesting. I'd be interested in knowing, beyond the walk rate and swing rate, if the K rate varies between Dominicans and non-Dominicans.