Thursday, September 5, 2013

Josmil Pinto and the base on balls

Josmil Pinto collects a pinch-hit single Wednesday.
Josmil Pinto has been a line-drive machine for the Twins. Not that 11 major league plate appearances, most of them coming against the lowly Houston Astros, proves anything, but it fits his minor league track record.

He hits. There are questions about his defensive abilities behind the plate, but he will hit.

His Baseball Reference page this morning is amusing. One of B-R's features is a 162-game average, showing what a player's rates translate to for a full season. Pinto's shows 108 doubles and a .700 batting average. These would be records. It also shows 162 runs but just 54 RBIs, a combination that if it were to actually occur would come from a slap-hitting leadoff man, not a ponderous catcher.

Just another illustration of the deceptiveness of small samples, and this is a very small sample.

Pinto has drawn one walk so far with the Twins. Here's an oddity from his minor league numbers: Most years, he drew about one walk for every 10 plate appearances (which, coincidentally, roughly matches his current MLB walk rate). This year, at Double A New Britain, he shot up from walking 10 percent of the time to 14 percent.

Then he moved up to Triple A Rochester. The batting average and slugging percentages remained stable — Pinto hit .308 in Double A, .314 in Triple A; he slugged .482 in Double A, .486 in Triple A.

But the walks just disappeared. Seventy-five plate appearances for the Red Wings, just two bases on balls. That's not a lot of playing time, but the results are so extreme that they might be significant.

Or not.

Pinto has not appeared to be an impatient hitter with the Twins. He's averaging 4.55 pitches per plate appearance, well over the major league average. He hasn't swung at a first pitch yet.

Why his walks shot up in New Britain, and why they vanished in Triple A ... it's a curious thing.

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