SF Giants rookie outfielder quietly excelling in important quality at the plate

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Wade Meckler made a meteoric rise through the minors this year that culminated with a promotion to the major league club. The SF Giants rookie outfielder is adjusting to the pace of the game, but there is one quality where he continues to excel - plate discipline.

SF Giants rookie outfielder quietly excelling in important quality at the plate

It bears mentioning that Meckler's first 11 games have had some very rough moments. This included a spate of strikeouts, some defensive miscues, and a baserunning gaffe. The game was moving fast, and at times, too quickly for the 23-year-old.

Incredibly, he has appeared in only 11 games and so much has happened. The last few games, however, highlight how Meckler can make an impact.

Anyone who followed Meckler's rise through the minors this season knows that he really put together some impressive numbers. Across three levels, the lefty bat registered a .379/.463/.522 (169 wRC+) line with five home runs, 46 RBI, and 55 runs in 294 plate appearances before his promotion. This included a 13.2 percent walk rate against a 14.6 percent strikeout rate.

His 169 wRC+ ranked as the fifth-best mark in the minors among players with a minimum of 250 plate appearances. Oddly enough, his .142 ISO ranks as the 639th-best mark.

To put it differently, he was one of the best hitters in the minors without hitting for much power. That is not an easy thing to do. Meckler is a bit of a throwback in that he grinds out at-bats, sees a lot of pitchers, and does not expand the strike zone.

These are qualities that modern front offices appreciate and can quantify. What makes Meckler more of an old-school player is he does all of this without striking out all that often. It is a combination of relentless contact skills without compromising his swing mechanics.

Now, if you look at his overall numbers since he was promoted to the majors, it might paint a different story. After all, he is slashing .281/.378/.281 (96 wRC+) with four walks against 15 strikeouts. That strikeout total is concerning. There is no doubt about it, but it feels more like a product of small samples compounded by adjusting to the competition level.

This is not uncommon with rookies. Normally, the strikeout rate spikes early on and then begins to normalize once the hitter makes adjustments. Could this be happening with Meckler? In his last three games, the left-handed bat has tallied five hits and two walks in seven at-bats.

It is hard to get excited about this as it is just a tiny sample. Though, he is doing what he did in the minors in that his hits find just enough outfield grass thanks to a swing that is designed for line drives.

Despite the high strikeout totals, Meckler is showing decent command of the strike zone. Of course,15 strikeouts in 37 plate appearances will tell you a different story, but he has a 24.2 percent O-swing%, which means that he is only swinging at pitches out of the strike zone about one out of every four pitches.

The league average rate is 31.8 percent, so Meckler is already excelling in that category. The high strikeout totals do seem to be a function of when he is expanding the zone. When he swings outside of the strike zone, he is missing at a high rate, which could normalize at some point. But, that is why it is a strike zone because pitches outside of the zone are tough to hit.

When he is swinging at pitches in the strike zone, he is making contact about 76.9 percent of the time, which is a hair above the league average rate of 76.4 percent.

Meckler is showing a good understanding of the strike zone, which is generally a process that leads to good swing decisions. It is the polar opposite of someone like Casey Schmitt, who was swinging at just about every pitch regardless of the location.

Meckler is doing what he did throughout the minors and that is making pitchers throw strikes. He will not expand the zone often and the early returns support that. His first impression has certainly been mixed, but the Giants coaching staff must like what they are seeing with the way he is approaching his at-bats. There is certainly an at-bat quality.