« Francisco Up, Gagne Disabled | Main | Weekend Photo »

April 23, 2007

Notes On Laird

Finally the unquestioned #1 catcher in his fifth season, Gerald Laird has posted a hideous line of .104/.185/.146 in 15 games. After all this time, Laird still has only 574 MLB plate appearances, so trendspotting is a risky endeavor, but what the heck:

1. Does Laird have a career history of poor performance as the regular catcher?

To test this theory, I compared games in which he started on the previous day (that’s day, not just the previous game) to those in which he had at least one day of rest. I eliminated games in which he appeared as a late-inning sub or pinch hitter.

I expected to see a letdown as an everyday player, but it doesn’t exist:

Laird after playing the previous day:
.253/.314/.333 in 194 plate appearances

Laird after at least one day of rest:
.241/.287/.391 in 371 appearances

Laird has hit for more power with rest but also for a slightly lower average and with a higher strikeout rate (23% vs 17%).

2. Is Laird seeing/swinging at pitches differently this season?

Yes. Laird’s awful start has coincided with increased patience. From 2003-2006, he averaged 3.7 pitches per appearance. In 2007, he’s improved to 4.2.

Through 2006, 28% of the strikes delivered to Laird were of the looking variety. In 2007, it’s increased to 34%. That extra 6% equates to 14 additional watched strikes this season in 54 appearances.

Laird swung at 32% of first pitches during his first four seasons. That number has decreased to 20% in 2007.

The operative word is “coincided.? I’m not about to suggest Laird’s scuffling is a function of increased patience. That said, the trend is worth watching. And again, Laird doesn’t have a lengthy history, so don’t take this analysis as holy writ.

3. Does Laird have more serious problems than how often he rests or whether he swings at the first pitch?

He sure does. One: Laird already had a poor track record against righties (.224/.282/.345 through ‘06) and has done nothing to improve it. Two: Laird had always pounded lefties (.355/.384/.520) but is 0-11 against them this season.

Posted by Lucas at April 23, 2007 06:09 PM