Zach Wilt: A few thoughts on Trey Mancini’s improved eye at the plate

A look through the Orioles stats is a pretty fun trip these days. You get to see Manny Machado’s name quite a bit. He’s the team’s leader in batting average, home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage, hits, slugging percentage, WAR and I’m sure a bunch of other categories. It’s no surprise, given the success the Orioles shortstop has had at the plate this season. He continues to amaze each and every night and sometimes it’s hard to look past Machado to see what the rest of the O’s offense is doing.

During the Orioles homestand, I found myself impressed with the steps that the club had made in their plate discipline compared to where they stood previously. Strikeouts, which have plagued the club throughout 2018, were down and the lineup seemed to have a more disciplined approach. This is an area of the game that has always piqued my interest. I have long felt that the Orioles’ power would be nicely complemented by some OBP. It helps to turn those solo homers into two- or three-run shots.

I was particularly impressed with the work that Trey Mancini did at the plate during the homestand. Mancini slashed .323/.417/.645. He was working deep into counts and doing everything he could to get on base. Of course, belting three homers helped to fluff his numbers up a bit, too.

He’s the ultimate table setter, the guy the Orioles need to balance their all-or-nothing offense. Mancini entered last night’s contest hitting .406 in the first inning and .338 leading off an inning. Take about a rally starter. He’s also hit .286 in 32 games as a leadoff hitter. That’s the guy you want to have the most at-bats at the end of the season.

On the season, Mancini is just behind Machado for the club’s highest walk percentage (10.8 percent to Machado’s 12.4 percent) among O’s that have at least 100 plate appearances this season. He’s also near the top in pitches per plate appearance in 2018 (4.09) just behind Chris Davis (4.31) for the team lead among those qualified. That discipline has given him the second spot on the club in on-base percentage (.347) behind Machado (.422) on the year.

FanGraphs’ plate discipline statistics really tell the full story. Mancini swings at just 33 percent of the pitches he sees outside of the strike zone. That’s down from last season’s total. He’s paired that improved eye with an above-average zone swinging percentage of 72.4 percent, right around his career average. In other words, Mancini knows what he’s looking for at the plate. He’s rarely fooled, and when he gets his pitch, he’s attacking it. Even when he is fooled, Mancini still makes contact with 65 percent of the pitches he swings at out of the zone. He’s just above Machado in that category, in case you were wondering.

At just 26, Mancini has a number of good years still ahead of him. His contributions to the Orioles will continue to be incredibly valuable. I focused entirely on his ability to get on base, but let’s not forget that the guy also hit 24 home runs last season. His skill set works perfectly with the Orioles power and helps to offset some of the strikeout woes that the club has faced.

Zach Wilt blogs about the Orioles at Baltimore Sports Report. Follow him on Twitter: @zach_wilt. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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