The game of baseball is unique. It differentiates in so many ways from any other sport. There’s no time limit. There are dozens of signs for just one pitch, and then the same process is repeated over 200 times. Managers wear the same uniform as their players. It’s reasons such as those that make me love the game so much. Baseball is also a numbers game. The frequent hot and cold phases that hit players throughout the grueling 162 game campaign is a staple for any career. Sure, a player can go on streaks in other sports as well. But in baseball, it happens to nearly everybody and right now, there may not be a better example on the Brewers than Keon Broxton.
Broxton is an exciting player. He’s also a player that makes you sit and scratch your head at times and wonder why he’s even out on the field. One at-bat he’ll be flailing at a junky slider that’s two feet out of the zone. The next time at the dish he’ll be cranking out a 440+ foot dinger. So, while he’s shown flashes at times, what exactly does Broxton need to tackle in order to become a consistent, well-rounded ballplayer? Now, I’m not a professional baseball coach that brings in a seven-figure salary. I’m just a guy that played high school and legion baseball and that enjoys writing as a hobby. So, disagree with the following logic I’m going to spew out in the rest of this article if you must, but let’s hope you agree with some of the takeaways I’ve discovered.
Let’s discuss the most obvious first. His plate vision is straight putrid. Anybody that just looks at his stat line can tell you that. His walk percentage has fallen from 14.8 percent last year to single digits at 6.7 percent this season. Yeah, not good. Diving into the advanced statistics, his O-swing % (the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) has jumped five percent from last year and is currently sitting at a whopping 27.1 percent. His contact percentages have plummeted as well, diminishing from last year’s 75.9 percent to 65.1 percent (this is when looking at pitches inside the strike zone).
The outer half of the plate along with the upper third of the zone is what troubles Broxton the most. Here is his averages from this season at pitches inside the zone:
When pitches that are grooved down the middle/upper half of the zone aren’t being taken advantage of, it can be problematic. It really is odd that a player has such a low BA for pitches in that part of the zone.
I touched on Broxton’s contact percentages earlier. Next, here’s a graphic that goes hand-in-hand with the low contact rates, as it breaks down Broxton’s swing-and-miss percentages:
Again, some of the highest numbers are in the upper third of the zone. It’s also not good that numbers as high as 83, 82, and 82 again are being seen below the zone. Definitely some work to be done.
So yes, the simple solution is to learn how to take pitches, swing at strikes, and hit the ball. It’s not rocket science. But thinking critically while also not over analyzing things, it’s vital for Broxton to jump ahead in counts. Absolutely essential. Why? Well, let’s take a look at his wOBA numbers; a better representation of offensive value than the traditional statistics (batting average, RBI, OPS). Glancing at the year-to-year statistics, the drop isn’t detrimental (.343 to .321). However, when you look at Broxton’s wOBA when he’s in unfavorable situations compared to favorable scenarios, a strong story is told.
Here is when the count (2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1, 1-0) is in his favor:
Now, let’s jump to the other side, pitchers’ counts (0-1, 0-2, 1-2, 2-2). You might want to put on a coat with all of the blue you’re going to see:
This was obviously going to be the case when comparing these two situations. It’s the same for all MLB players. But with Broxton, it’s quite bad and is definitely worth noting.
In a nutshell, the main source of his problems derives from plate discipline. The skill is a quintessential one to have, as if it’s lacked, a flurry of problems unfolds (as it currently is with Broxton). More strikeouts occur, swing and miss rates rise, and frustration amounts. By establishing a more conservative approach at the dish rather than boasting a free swinging mentality, Broxton may develop some consistent power. We’ve all seen what happens when he makes perfect contact with the ball (that massive dinger in St. Louis was a thing of beauty). It’s pretty crazy to think that Milwaukee received both Broxton and Trey Supak in return for Jason Rogers. Broxton has proven that he can fit in center. He just needs to discover a process that yields consistent results at the plate.