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Best batting eyes in AL West? Here are five

@JesseSanchezMLB
May 1, 2020

While it’s not officially listed among the five tools scouts use to judge a player’s abilities, you can argue the “batting eye” is just as valuable as the ability to hit for average, hit for power, run, throw and play defense when it comes to evaluating a player. The best

While it’s not officially listed among the five tools scouts use to judge a player’s abilities, you can argue the “batting eye” is just as valuable as the ability to hit for average, hit for power, run, throw and play defense when it comes to evaluating a player.

The best players have a “good eye.” The swing-and-miss types generally don’t. It’s a combination of patience, plate discipline and often referenced, or at least considered, when a batter works deep into a count.

From the little leagues to the big leagues, the batting eye is crucial to a player’s success. These are the hitters in the American League West with the best “batting eye.”

Angels: Mike Trout
One of Trout's most underrated skills is his batting eye, as he has the patience to draw walks when he doesn't get pitches to hit. Trout has led the AL in on-base percentage in each of the past four years and has led the AL in walks three times in his career (2013, '16 and '18).

He would have led again last season but missed most of September after undergoing right foot surgery. And unlike most sluggers, Trout can run, as evidenced by his 200 career stolen bases. So his stellar batting eye leads to plenty of runs for Trout, who has scored at least 100 runs in seven of the past eight seasons. -- Rhett Bollinger

Astros: José Altuve
One of the most accomplished hitters since he made his Major League debut in 2011, Altuve’s plate discipline sets him apart. He has a 15.2 whiff rate since '14, the 13th lowest mark among 100 players with 5,000 swings in that span. His 11.4 percent whiff rate in '15 was fifth lowest in the Majors (minimum 750 pitches swung at).

Altuve has worked hard since he joined the big leagues to become more disciplined at the plate and not chase pitches out of the zone. That has forced pitchers to attack him more, and with a smaller strike zone, they have had little room for error when he's at the plate. -- Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Marcus Semien
Matt Chapman’s plate discipline has improved each year he’s been in the Majors as he continues his quest to evolve into an elite hitter, but Semien remains the owner of the best batting eye on the A’s.

Rarely did Semien stray from making life difficult for opposing pitchers last season. His chase rate of 19.2 percent was seventh-best among Major League hitters (min. facing 1,000 such pitches), and he was also among the top 20 hitters in the Majors with a swinging strike rate of 7.3 percent (min. 2,000 total pitches seen). Plate discipline was a large part of Semien ultimately finishing third in AL MVP Award voting in 2019. He dramatically decreased his strikeout total while drawing a career-high 87 walks, leading all Major League shortstops in that category. -- Martin Gallegos

Mariners: Daniel Vogelbach
The burly designated hitter Vogelbach is renowned for his patience at the plate and ability to work deep into counts, and he was first in the AL last year with 4.54 pitches per plate appearance (the Yankees’ Brett Gardner ranked second at 4.32). That trait can be a mixed blessing, though, as Vogelbach’s ability to get pitches to hit helped him earn an All-Star berth last year as a rookie, but it also contributed to a second-half slump when the Mariners felt he became too passive at times.

Vogelbach drew walks in 16.5 percent of his plate appearances in 2019, fourth in MLB behind only Trout (18.3), Brewers All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal (17.2) and Astros standout third baseman Alex Bregman (17.2). Vogelbach was first among Mariners qualified hitters in his walks-to-strikeout ratio as well at a 0.62 clip thanks to 92 walks and 149 strikeouts in 558 plate appearances. No other Mariner drew more than 50 walks. -- Greg Johns

Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo
Choo was the choice last week for the Rangers when MLB.com listed who had the Best Hit Tool for each team. The No. 1 reason Choo was picked for the Rangers is because he also has the best batting eye. It’s why Choo is seventh among active players with 855 walks and 11th among active players with a .377 on-base percentage. Last season, he ranked 12th in the AL with 4.11 pitches per plate appearance.

Choo was also great at not chasing pitches out of the strike zone last season. He chased on 20.1 percent of such pitches, 12th lowest among 146 hitters with a minimum of 1,000 pitches outside the zone. Also, 76.1 percent of the pitches Choo swung at were in the strike zone. That was the fourth-highest rate among 199 Major League hitters with 750 total swings. -- T.R. Sullivan

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.