There’s no doubt that Craig Monroe has struggled so far this year. In 74 plate appearances, he sports a rather unimpressive 25/5 strikeout to walk ratio and those 25 strikeouts lead the team. So you’d think from looking at the numbers that Craig Monroe is hacking away, right? Well then, why does he lead the majors in pitches per plate appearances with 4.6 amongst the players with the requisite number of at bats?
In looking at his splits page using Baseball-Reference.com’s play index, we can at least see what Monroe’s doing. In only three plate appearances has he gone just one pitch, and then he’s had six plate appearances where he had a 1-0 count and three with an 0-1 count so out of his 74 plate appearances, he’s swung away and put the ball in play with one or two pitches only twelve times. That doesn’t even match the number of times he’s taken the count full (17) and he’s gone to a 2-2 count another 18 times so in 35 of his plate appearances (almost half), he’s lasted at least five pitchers. I’m not sure what that tells us other then the fact that Monroe’s at least taking a couple of pitches even when he gets behind in the count. There’s also the fact that Monroe has only had an event while ahead in the count with 20 of his 74 plate appearances so another explanation is that he gets ahead in the count, then either takes some strikes or swings and misses to get the pitch count total up without doing anything other then working the pitcher.
One of the more disturbing numbers is that in 19 plate appearances with a full count, Monroe has struck out on ten of them with only five walks. And while this is intuitive, you can tell quite a bit from what Monroe does with the first pitch. When he takes a ball on pitch one, he hits .290 in those 36 plate appearances. When he goes down 0-1 in the count, he hits .059 in 35 plate appearances.