Newfound patient approach has Brett Lawrie eyeing career year
Brett Lawrie has brought a seemingly never ending amount of energy to the White Sox clubhouse in 2016, but that was somewhat expected. The 26 year-old infielder has always been a high energy player.
But what Lawrie has brought to the table this season, that wasn’t necessarily expected is a different approach at the plate. Lawrie has become more patient at the plate, and it has helped him elevate his offensive production considerably.
Lawrie had a career high 33 walks in his first full season in the majors in 2012, in 2016 he already has 18 walks. Entering play today his batting average sits at .278, .14 points higher than his career batting average of .264. His On Base Percentage is .372, .53 points above his .319 career OBP, and his On Base + Slugging Percentage is sitting at .849, .106 points higher than his .743 career OPS.
Lawrie’s new patient approach at the plate is allowing him to be a better hitter, see more pitches per at-bat, and increase his production. Over his career Lawrie had seen an average of 3.78 pitchers per at-bat, this season he is averaging 4.17 pitches per at-bat, a career high as well.
Probably the biggest nod to his patience leading to better at-bats, is his batting average on balls in play, meaning his batting average minus strikeouts. In 2016 Lawrie is sitting pretty at .395 on balls in play, .90 points higher than his career average of .320.
In 2015 Brett Lawrie had 602 plate appearances, in those 602 plate appearances Lawrie accumulated 16 home runs, 60 runs batted in, and 48 extra base hits, all career highs to this point. In 2016 Lawrie has five home runs, 16 runs batted in, and 15 extra base hits in only 145 plate appearances.
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At this pace if Lawrie has 602 plate appearances in 2016 he would be in line to surpass all of those career highs with 21 home runs, 64 runs batted in, and 60 extra base hits.
Lawrie’s .372 OBP is good for third in the American League among second baseman. He ranks eighth in hits, second in doubles, sixth in home runs, seventh in RBI, and first in walks among the same group entering play today.
Will Lawrie continue to be this patient at the plate for the remainder of the season? Only time will tell, but the statistics to date tell me that Brett Lawrie has matured as a hitter and has the potential to be plus bat in the White Sox lineup moving forward.