Austin Meadows now owns the longest hitting streak in Altoona Curve history. Here are the numbers that make up his historic feat.
Austin Meadows has been coming into his own for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A Affiliate Altoona Curve, and he has a record 23-game hit streak to thank for it.
Pirates outfield prospect Austin Meadows has always been highly regarded. Now he is in the throes of proving that potential each time he takes the field. The swing that Baseball America labelled as “smooth and easy” has been just that during his ongoing 23-game hitting streak, the longest in Curve history. The fifth-overall pick in the 2013 entry draft is now leaving observers to wonder if he can get to the majors even quicker than anticipated.
Today, we focus on the numbers behind his record streak.
Meadows has brought up his OPS by 365 points, up to .942 on the year. In getting a delayed start due to an orbital bone injury, Meadows carried a .192/.276/.301 slash line in 21 games before the streak began on May 23rd. Held back by an unlucky .250 BABIP (Batting average on balls in play), Meadows nevertheless could still find gaps for extra bases, as six of his 14 hits before the street went for extra bases.
It was clearly a case of not seeing the ball well, as his 23.8 percent strikeout rate will attest. Speaking of strikeout rate, our next figure is truly remarkable.
Meadows carries a strikeout rate of just 10.2 percent during his streak. He did not strike out in 14 of the 23 games. That patience shown during this stretch is truly elite, as a “low” strikeout rate at the Double-A level is considered to be around 15 percent.
His k-rate will level out before it’s all said and done. Yet, the fact that Meadows can go on long stretches where is locked in at the plate speaks volumes for his development at this level.
22 & 4.6
If we combine Austin Meadows’ 11 doubles, six triples and five home runs during the streak, we are left with 22 extra base hits in 98 plate appearances. This is good for an extra base hit every 4.6 plate appearances, a little less than one per game.
The ability to find gaps with consistency is a welcome sight for any prospect at the Double-A level, and Meadows can still get better with more opposite field contact.
Spray Chart via MLBFarm.com
Meadows will benefit as he sees more shifts during his ascent through the system. If he had been drafted even five years ago, this might not have been the case. With the embracing of shifts across baseball over the past years, more teams employ them at more levels to create a seamless transition to the majors.
Meadows will see more shifts during his key development years. More shifts will breed more opportunities to develop opposite field hitting habits, leading to more extra base hits.
Austin Meadows has recorded one hit in just 12 of the 23 games that comprise the streak. Any long hitting streak will have some luck involved, but with 11 multi-hit games, the young outfielder is proving that the streak is not a fluke. The bulk of the streak was also build during a stretch where the club played games in 21 consecutive days. To remain a consistent multi-hit threat while also maintaining a burgeoning hit streak speaks to the mental strength of the 21 year-old.
It’s still too early to tell when the centerfielder might be able to force Neal Huntington’s hand. He won’t hit the big club this year, but stands an excellent chance to finish his 2016 season in Indianapolis. From there, it will be tough to crack the big club for at least another season. And that is even before considering that he is beginning to take to other outfield positions.
Many hitting streaks are fluky. They are irrational. Oftentimes, other metrics can’t explain why hitters hit in so many consecutive games. That’s not the case with Austin Meadows. The numbers we have highlighted here tell the story of a maturing hitter who is possibly ahead of schedule.
The streak is just a coincidence.
Photo Credit – MLB.com