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Tuesday, March 23, 2004

CASE STUDY

Rather than 5 tools, there are actually 6. Aside from the ability to run, throw, hit for average, and hit for power, there is another tool, plate discipline. That is what some have theorized. This is based around the idea that players who demonstrate awful plate discipline over an extended period of time, are not likely to improve this aspect of their game. This also falls in line with the idea that BB rate is one of the more consistent stats and thus easier to predict from season to season. So if plate discipline is a tool, consistent from year to year, and difficult to be learned, can it be unlearned?

In his first full season, at the age of 20, Adrian Beltre demonstrated great plate discipline and patience. His second full season saw his patience slip slightly, but his numbers showed that he may have just been attacking good pitches earlier in the count. Then before his third season, Beltre had his appendix removed. It seems that in addition to his appendix, the doctors may have taken his sixth tool. Since that time, his plate patience and discipline have gone to hell, dragging the rest of his offensive game with them.

Can the sixth tool be unlearned? Judging by Adrian Beltre, it can. Well, if he can unlearn it, can he relearn it? This is perhaps the most critical question for the Dodgers this year. Right now their "offense" hinges on Shawn Green recovering from his poor 2003 season, even if Green manages to do that, their offense will still be poor. IF Beltre can play like he did as a 20 and 21 year old, then this would greatly help the Dodgers. The key to all of this is Paul DePodesta. Since he will no doubt be preacing the value of OBP, something that the last Dodger administration clearly did not value as much, I wonder whether this will have an effect on Beltre who is STILL young despite being around for what seems like forever. For this reason, I will watch Beltre's progress closely this season.

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