Josh Reddick’s struggles with Dodgers tied to plate discipline

Stacie wrote about Josh Reddick‘s struggles a couple weeks ago, and she did a good job covering all the bases. With Yasiel Puig getting demoted in favor of bringing in Reddick, his struggles were magnified a bit more.

“The question that remains is what is going on with Reddick and how can he snap out this in order to contribute to the Dodgers down the stretch? It’s a bit unfair to judge him entirely on his first three weeks with a new team. An overall assessment can’t really be made until the conclusion of the season. Yet if he does only pan out to be a rental whom the Dodgers don’t bring back next year, then this shockingly unlucky streak will no doubt be costly in hindsight.”

That’s the big question. I’m going to try to answer it.

Reddick is hitting just .212/.264/.263 with a 47 wRC+ with the Dodgers. That includes his recent hot streak, which is also reason for a little optimism. But first, let’s examine Reddick’s career arc and how it has varied.

Reddick’s career has been interesting. Four years ago, he launched 32 home runs for the A’s while striking out 151 times. After an injury-riddled 2013 and ’14, he got back on track with a solid 2015 — 20 home runs, 25 doubles, seven triples, while striking out just 65 times. This season, even before coming to the Dodgers, Reddick’s offensive game had completely changed. He had just 20 extra base hits in 272 plate appearances. It was still good for an above-average .153 isolated power, but the power he showed in 2012 (.221 ISO), ’14 (.182) and ’15 (.177) wasn’t there.

His offensive profile had shifted from that of a power-hitting corner outfielder with swing-and-miss (but not an alarming rate) to more of a contact-oriented guy who didn’t swing-and-miss as much but also didn’t hit for as much power.

His career contact rate is 82.6 percent, but this is how his Contact% increased over the last four seasons:

  • 2012: 80.4
  • 2013: 80.9
  • 2014: 82.6
  • 2015: 85.6
  • 2016: 85.9

He has been consistent with the Dodgers, posting an 85.6 percent contact rate after having it at 86 percent with Oakland this season. But for a guy who doesn’t thrive in the batting average on balls in play department, Reddick had also benefited from a higher-than-normal BABIP for him this season. He had a .317 BABIP with the A’s, which would have been the second-highest of his MLB career (,318 in 2011, 87 games). Reddick isn’t a high BABIP guy, so some of his success with the A’s, coupled with the diminished power, was a bit of a red flag. He hasn’t been lucky with the Dodgers (.244 BABIP), but he also hasn’t done a lot at the plate to warrant being lucky.

Often times when a player comes to a new team and struggles, people say he is “pressing.” With Reddick brought in to replace Puig in right field, that may have been the case — and the numbers back it up.

Stat 2016 W/ OAK 2016 W/ LAD
O-Swing% 26.1 31.8
Z-Swing% 62.9 69.0
Swing% 42.0 48.5
SwStr% 5.8 7.0
Launch Angle 12.1 16.3

He’s swinging a lot more than he did with the A’s. He’s also swinging at lot more pitches outside the strike zone. And while he isn’t striking out at a high rate, he is missing pitches with more frequency since joining the Dodgers. His launch angle is also up which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he has virtually the same average exit velocity (88.9 MPH) as he did with the Athletics (88.8 MPH).

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Reddick has been a solid ball player since really breaking in with the Red Sox in 2011, and his 5-week slump with the Dodgers is not indicative of his true talent level. The same goes for any quality player who has slumped for an extended period of time. He isn’t a game-changer or guy you can build a team around. He’s a solid supporting player who has proven to be slightly above-average throughout his career.

Reddick has been much better lately — 9-for-17 in his last five games — but that’s an extremely small sample size. Just as he isn’t a .563 hitter, he also isn’t the .145 hitter he was in his first 24 games with the Dodgers. Like most everything in life, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.