The folks over at FanGraphs have a statistic called O-Swing%, which simply measures the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone that a player chases. The league average has generally been around 25% the past few years. In 2009, the Pirates had the seventh highest percentage at 26.8%, continuing a trend of poor plate patience. They were led by notorious free-swingers Freddy Sanchez (30.1%), Lastings Milledge (30.8%), Ryan Doumit (33.2%), Jack Wilson (33.4%) and Ronny Cedeno (37.0%).
Thus far in 2010, the Pirates have been marching to a new beat. The Bucs have the fourth lowest percentage at 22.9%. Some of that improvement is due to new roster additions, such as Aki Iwamura (15.0%) and Bobby Crosby (16.7%). Moreover, some players have made dramatic improvement to their plate discipline, such as Doumit (19.5%) and Milledge (25.7%).
Obviously, we are looking at a small sample size here, and it’s not like this is the first time I have noted improved patience early in a season. So take these numbers with a large grain of salt. But at the very least, they are encouraging.