I'm doing just about anything to avoid writing my paper, so I thought I'd take a look at Jack Cust. Keep in mind its nearly 5 am when I write this, so I apologize in advance for any part of this that may suck.
Jack Cust's 2008 numbers contrast quite a bit with his 2009 numbers. Let's take a look.
Last year, Cust put up a line of .231/.375/.476 for an OPS of .851. He walked 18.5% of the time, and struck out in 32.9% of his plate appearances.
This year, Cust has put up this gem: .239/.335/.431 for an OPS of .766. He is walking only 12.3% of the time, and is striking out 25.2% of the time.
Let's take a look at what has changed:
According to Fangraphs, Jack Cust's plate discipline and patience has decreased significantly since last year. This season, he has swung at 5% more pitches outside the strike zone (15.3% last year, 20.3% this year), 7.6% more pitches inside the strike zone (62.8% last year, 70.4% this year), and 5.3% more pitches overall (38.3% last year, 43.6% this year).
It seems that Cust made an effort to cut down on strikeouts (training his eyes, swinging earlier/more often) while increasing his batting average. While he succeeded in cutting down the strickouts!!!!11, he has failed (so far) in his effort to improve his BA.
Cust increasing the amount he swings was something that was pondered numerous times here at AN. Many people wondered if Cust chose to be less picky with his pitch selection, would his average and homeruns increase while is k's decreased. As of now the answer looks like a resounding no.
Let's look further:
While Cust is swinging at more pitches outside the strikezone, he is making contact with them less frequently (42.2% contact on pitches swung at outside the strike zone last year, 36.3 percent this year). This is probably good for Cust (except in cases of 2 strike hitting), as making contact with a bad pitch usually ends poorly. Cust has increased his contact rate on pitches swung at in the strike zone (71.1% last year, 83.2% this year). He has also increased his overall contact percentage from 65.1% last year, to 71.5% this year. While this may seem like a good thing, it could be very telling for Cust's decrease in OBP this year. He is swinging more, and probably at worse pitches than he did in the past.
So to me a few things seem pretty obvious: Jack Cust will never hit for a high average, and much of his value is in his ability to take pitches and walk. So Jack, if you read this, take more pitches and swing less often, and revert to your 2008 form. Pretty please?