The Hangover: Ryan Schimpf Walks Again

Ryan Schimpf collected a pair of walks last night against the Braves, giving him a league-leading 11 on the young season. He’s hitting well south of .200 so far, but he’s still been an effective offensive player because he’s walking like Barry Bonds circa 2003. His slash line—.148/.375/.370—isn’t one you see everyday, but it still works.

In his first at-bat against Julio Teheran, Schimpf didn’t swing at a single pitch.

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And that’s kind of his thing.

He just doesn’t swing the bat. According to the numbers at Baseball Prospectus, Schimpf’s swing rate—simply the percentage of pitches he offers at—is second-lowest in all of baseball at 32.5 percent, trailing only Logan Forsythe‘s 30 percent. Since 2010, the only hitters with a lower swing rate in a season (minimum 400 pitches) than Schimpf’s current mark are Nick Johnson, Brett Gardner, and George Kottaras.

For the most part, Schimpf’s done an excellent job simply waiting out pitchers. In the at-bat referenced above, note that second pitch. That’s a strike, but it’s a pitcher’s pitch, a backdoor slider that catches the outside part of the plate in a fastball count. It’s a hittable pitch, but up 1-0 in the count, it’s probably not what Schimpf is looking for. Rather than swinging at it, he takes it for a strike and lives to see another pitch. Teheran would go on to miss three straight times with fastballs, giving Schimpf first base and starting a two-run rally.

In Schimpf’s other walk, in the sixth inning, it was more of the same:

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The third pitch, a high changeup, looked more like a ball than the above image indicates, and the fourth pitch, a fastball, was clearly outside but called for a strike. Either way, Schimpf got the count to 3-2 by swinging just once, and ultimately won the battle when Teheran missed low with a two-seamer.

Schimpf’s a fascinating hitter. Despite his patient ways, pitchers have mostly dealt with him like he’s a true slugger, delivering him a pitch in the strike zone just 42.5 percent of the time. And maybe that’s because he is . . . well, a true slugger. That pitchers have handed him 11 walks already is at least a sign that they respect him as a hitter, and that teams fear his fly ball/power approach. If Schimpf’s able to continue to lay off pitches outsize the zone and hammer some of the ones in it, there’s a shot he’s for real.

If not, he’s something like Kottaras, which really ain’t so bad.

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  • Dante Stack

    Cool breakdown. I’d love to see Schimpf batting 2nd in the order. Let him get on base with all these crazy walks for Myers and Soly to bring him home.

    • ballybunion

      Batting second, with that low average and strikeout rate? He’s also relatively slow on the basepaths. Jankowski is second on the team in walks, and he can score from first base on a Myers long single.

      Schimpf did his best work last year hitting fifth (.278/.389/.722-1.111, 90 ABs) or seventh (.343/.4.25/.857-1.282, 35 ABs). He hit .091/.200/.273-.473, 22 ABs hitting second.

      They’re small sample segments of a partial season, but those numbers really jump out!

      • Pat

        Yeah jump out as meaningless small samples.

      • ballybunion

        When that’s all you got, whadda you gonna do – consult a psychic? Did you know Willie Mays played two games at shortstop? He played one inning in one game, and three innings in another. Nobody hit a ball to him. Baseball-Reference, comparing his putouts (0) to the average for 1300 innings, concluded he was 120 runs below average!

        Willie also played two games in left, a total of ten innings, and made seven putouts. I remember that one start, Marichal was pitching and the lefty hitters couldn’t turn on his fastball and kept hitting pop flies to left. Again, using the standard chances per 1300 innings, Baseball Reference proclaimed Willie 144 runs above average!

        If Baseball-Ref can use small samples, so can I.

    • Thanks. Yeah, I’d be cool with that. He’s not the traditional No. 2 hitter, by any means, but the traditional No. 2 hitter often isn’t a good hitter. If Schimpf keeps up the on-base skills, he’d certainly work there.