No, Mark Bellhorn’s Ks are Not Acceptable

The Mark Bellhorn controversy has reared its head again in the comments.
Well, the one thing I disagree with is this statement.
If Bellhorn could simply take his extraneous K’s and turn them into contacts while maintaining the same BABIP, then yeah, that’d be great. Bu the K’s are a byproduct of his patience, which also gives us his walks, gives us his comparatively high rate of hits on contact, etc. In other words, Bellhorn’s game is built aroud his patience. While it would be nice for him to be a completely different, better ballplayer, it’s just not going to happen. Bellhorn is on of the most patient hitters in all of MLB (7th in the majors in P/PA) and the K’s come with the territory. (Andrew)
I don’t agree. There is a difference between “patience” and disclipline. I think he goes up there not looking for a good pitch to hit, but hoping for a walk. That’s what I think Mark does. That’s what I used to do, and I was a terrible hitter until I slapped myself in the face and told me to go up to look for a better pitch to hit. I had the season of my life, and my OBP only downticked slightly. Before I did that, we’re talking about maybe 50 AB, 20 BB, 15 K, and 2 hits. That’s how bad I was. But then I hit .350 the season I slapped myself in the face. In essence, I took about 5 walks, 10 Ks, and combined with smarter baseball (I revamped my swing) then boom – there ya go.
There is a difference between “patience” and disclipline. If you go up there and recognize balls for what they are – balls, then great, take them. But no one, and you can’t convince me Mark Bellhorn doesn’t either, should take strikes over and over again. I realize that part of taking strikes (or fouling them off if it’s 2 strikes) is because while it’s a strike, it’s not a pitch that they can do anything with. But it’s not going to result in that many strikeouts. If you recognize a strike and you think you can do something with it, swing. If not, then lay off, but that doesn’t mean you can just let yourself strike out, you have to make contact. Now, whether or not a few DPs are worse than a lot of strikeouts isn’t the point here.
What I want to do is take the leaders in BB so far and compare them to batting average and strikeouts.

RK PLAYER TEAM AB K BB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Brian Giles SD 304 42 71 .296 .429 .513 .942
2 Bobby Abreu Phi 323 65 67 .307 .428 .526 .955
3 Adam Dunn Cin 289 94 63 .239 .384 .550 .935
4 Todd Helton Col 302 56 61 .288 .414 .474 .888
5 Gary Sheffield NYY 309 70 53 .298 .399 .521 .920
  David Dellucci Tex 234 42 53 .265 .405 .534 .940
7 J.D. Drew LAD 252 50 51 .286 .412 .520 .931
8 Jim Edmonds StL 246 83 50 .272 .393 .549 .942
  Brad Wilkerson Was 314 91 50 .271 .376 .433 .809
10 Alex Rodriguez NYY 325 63 49 .317 .416 .582 .998
11 Lyle Overbay Mil 263 58 48 .274 .386 .460 .846
12 Ryan Klesko SD 282 50 47 .270 .375 .472 .846
  Mark Bellhorn Bos 272 102 47 .221 .332 .360 .693
  David Ortiz Bos 328 62 47 .314 .396 .585 .982
  Nick Johnson Was 256 52 47 .320 .444 .508 .952
  Morgan Ensberg Hou 297 70 47 .290 .387 .596 .983

Out of a grand total of 16 people, two have batting averages that are pretty low. Adam Dunn and Mark Bellhorn. I tried to find the league strikeout average, but I couldn’t. So, I settled for finding the highest strikeout total of the first half (guess who!) and the lowest (Placido Polanco, 13). Since Mark Bellhorn had 272 AB this year, I had the cutoff for AB be 250 plate appearances. So (102 + 13)/2 an average of 58 Ks, projected to 115 over the season. Let’s look at how many people are over 58 Ks so far.
Out of 16 people, 8 were at or below 58 while a nice number of 8 were above. This means that automatically, 50% of all people who were on the BB leaderboard (and Bellhorn was tied for 12th!) do not let their plate disclipline affect their Ks, nor their average.
So now, about the people who were above 58, who were they, and how much?

PLAYER SO
Bobby Abreu 65
Adam Dunn 94
David Dellucci 70
Jim Edmonds 83
Brad Wilkerson 91
Alex Rodriguez 63
Mark Bellhorn 102
David Ortiz 62
Morgan Ensberg 70

Now, as I said earlier, I could handle strikeouts coming from David Americo Ortiz Arias if it was coming from, well, him. So I looked at how many strikeouts he’s had so far this year, which is 62. That’s pretty close to league average, so we won’t pare this list any further.
Now, let’s add BA and OPS to this list.

PLAYER BA/OPS SO
Bobby Abreu .307/.955 65
Adam Dunn .239/.935 94
David Dellucci .265/.940 70
Jim Edmonds .272/.942 83
Brad Wilkerson .271/.809 91
Alex Rodriguez .317/.998 63
Mark Bellhorn .221/.693 102
David Ortiz .314/.982 62
Morgan Ensberg .290/.983 70

I now have no idea what the average OPS is so I took every single team OPS (30 numbers) and added them all together then divided them by 30 to get an average OPS. We get a tidy .752, or in other words, Philadelphia plus one point.
So, anyone over league average, we can stomach the Ks, right? So who is under .761?

PLAYER BA/OPS SO
Mark Bellhorn .221/.693 102

I rest my case.