Willson Contreras has taken MLB by storm. It would be fair to say that if he could keep up the hitting pace of his first seven games (.412/.474/.941) that he would be the greatest player in the history of baseball. That won't happen, of course, but there are reasons to believe that Willson Contreras might just as good as any of the young studs the Cubs have assembled.

It goes beyond his short stint in MLB, of course. Let's begin with his performance for the past 1.5 years in minor league ball. Willson had his breakthrough year at AA in 2015, going .333/.413/.478 at the plate. More importantly, he showed tremendous plate discipline and contact skills with 10.9 BB % and 11.9 SO %. If you added in HBP, he got on base with free (and painful) passes more frequently than he struck out across 521 PA. He continued that excellence into the Arizona Fall League (where many of baseball's best prospects play when the regular minor league season concludes) with a .283/.361/.547 line and 11.5 BB % / 14.8 SO % peripherals. 

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In my last article and the one before it, we discussed Javier Baez's approach at the plate.  We're going to discuss the same things again today.  Yes, this my third consecutive article that is about Javier Baez.  Deal with it.  I swear I will write something about another player at some point.  There's a few reasons I am so heavily invested in documenting Javy's plate approach, though.  He's a fascinating baseball player, for one.  Secondly, I could tell you how good Anthony Rizzo is at hitting baseballs, but we all know that already.  More importantly, today, is that all of that stuff in Javy's approach that I rambled about previously... well, there's been some changes already.

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After a tremendous start to the season, Addison Russell went through a mighty slump in May. He seems to have mostly rebounded and has been well above average over his last 10 games. The chart below shows the extent of his slump and recovery. Let's see if we can find out what drove the slump and what has been fixed. And, unfortunately, what hasn't been.

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In my last article, we discussed Javier Baez's plate discipline, or lack thereof.  We briefly touched on the fact that Javy is making more contact on pitches thrown outside of the strike zone.  This year, his Z-Contact% (the % of pitches he makes contact on inside the strike zone) is 79.8% according to PITCHf/x.  It was 78.8% in 2014.  He's made a negligible gain in this regard.  However, his O-Contact% (the % of pitches he makes contact on outside the strike zone) is 62.6% this year, up from 47.1% last year and 39.7% the year before.  I surmised that some of this may be due to Javy swinging less at pitches way out of the zone this year.  As we saw in the last article, Javy is also swinging a lot more at pitches that are just off the zone.  He's more likely to make contact on those pitches a few inches off the zone than the ones that are 6 inches off the zone.

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I was inspired by Aaron to spend some time on the Baseball Savant website. I chose to study my favorite engima: how Jorge Soler can hit the ball so damn hard and yet have mediocre results. I'm still getting my arms around using the site to do good analysis, so I figured I'd take an easy first step and just create some fun charts. So, I downloaded Jorge's available data and pulled it into my favorite data analysis tool.

The first chart I looked at was a scatter plot of Exit Velocity vs Launch Angle.

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Much has been said about Javier Baez and his propensity to swing at pitches out of the zone.  He's always been a free swinger, and this year is no different. Today, we are going to examine his zone profiles at BrooksBaseball and Fangraphs to see if there is anything that's changed in his approach at the plate.  First, let's look at his approach at the plate in his rookie season in 2014.  Actually, "approach" is a misnomer; he didn't really have an identifiable approach.  There has been a lot written about Baez's approach in his rookie season.  There were a lot of problems with what Javy did at the plate, and pitchers took advantage.

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In my last article, I briefly mentioned that the Cubs give up the lowest BABIP against on balls hit with less than a 10° launch angle, these being ground balls.  I attributed this partly to having Addison Russell playing shortstop.  Today, we'll see if we can glean anything from Statcast to substantiate this claim.  That's right, we're going to pore over some more data from baseballsavant.  Lucky, we are.

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