Remaining Free Agent Contact Hitters

With power becoming harder to find, lots of teams are shifting towards a contact-oriented offense. They seek players who can hit for average and put the ball in play to force the defense's hand, move runners over, all sorts of stuff. Few players manage to be above-average at both hitting for power and putting the ball in play, but Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, and Albert Pujols are among those who pull it off.

The league average strikeout rate in 2012 was 19.8% (of all plate appearances). Marco Scutaro had the lowest strikeout rate among qualified hitters this year (7.2%) while Jose Reyes was second (7.8%). Adam Dunn, on the other hand, had the highest strikeout rate at 34.2%. Only four other players (Pedro Alvarez, Drew Stubbs, Carlos Pena, Chris Davis) were over 30%. Strikeouts are not the only way to identify hitters who can put the ball in play though, especially in the age of PitchFX. Contact rate, which is available at FanGraphs and uses PitchFX data, is the percentage of contact made with individual swings. The league average contact rate was 79.6% this past season, with Scutaro (95.2%) and Josh Hamilton (64.6%) representing the two extremes. No other player was above 92.6% or below 66.9%.

Here are the remaining unsigned free agents who posted better than average strikeout and contact rates in 2012 (min. 200 PA). The lists, as you'll notice, are not identical.

Strikeout Rate

  1. Carlos Lee – 8.0%
  2. Casey Kotchman – 9.8%
  3. Juan Rivera – 10.3%
  4. Yuniesky Betancourt – 11.0%
  5. Johnny Damon – 12.1%
  6. Ryan Theriot – 12.2%
  7. Adam Kennedy – 16.4%
  8. Jose Lopez – 16.5%
  9. Travis Hafner – 17.5%
  10. Orlando Hudson – 18.0%
  11. Yorvit Torrealba – 18.3%
  12. Delmon Young – 18.4%
  13. Scott Rolen – 18.8%
  14. Rod Barajas – 19.1%

Contact Rate

  1. Lee – 89.5%
  2. Theriot – 89.3%
  3. Damon – 89.2%
  4. Kotchman – 87.7%
  5. Betancourt – 85.3%
  6. Rivera – 84.8%
  7. Hudson – 84.6%
  8. Kennedy – 84.4%
  9. Rolen – 84.0%
  10. Lopez – 83.7%
  11. Bobby Abreu – 82.9%
  12. Jeff Baker – 80.2%
  13. Hafner – 79.7%

Damon and Rolen could retire before the end of the offseason, which would further remove from the crop of available contact hitters.


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