If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Three True Outcomes, it started as a joke by Christina Kahrl and makes reference to the idea that hitters can only control three outcomes in any plate appearance: they can strike out, work a walk, or hit a home run. Any other hit is determined by defense, and who cares about that?
It’s mainly just a fun idea, as it tends to highlight absurdist player careers like Russell Branyan and Adam Dunn (and, now, I suppose Joey Gallo), who are basically no average, all power, all strikeout, all walk-style hitters. In these three examples, Branyan’s career Three True Outcome percentage (TTO%) — again, percentage of plate appearances that resulted in either a walk, strikeout, or home run — is 50.5%, Dunn’s is 49.9%, and Gallo’s is 58.6% (55.6% this season).
As fun as it is, there might actually be some inside baseball-y type stuff afoot here. As strikeout rates have surged, home runs have increased. The walk rate has remained the same, but what if teams — especially the more forward-thinking organizations — have started gearing development more towards this TTO%? We know statistical analysis is all geared towards controlling outcomes and what better way to start building up hedged bets than by creating an outcome where only three true outcomes flourish?
The Giants pride themselves on a balanced attack, of course, and while they’re open to hitting more home runs, we know the ballpark makes that extremely difficult. Still, have a look-see at the Giants’ current Top 10 TTO leaderboard and smile:
(Oh, a couple of caveats: I omitted all players with zero home runs and players not currently on the active roster, save Pablo Sandoval)
Giants Three True Outcomes Leaderboard 2018
Austin Slater would’ve been #2 on this list if he had hit a home run. As it stands, his 17 walks and 34 strikeouts in 124 plate appearances gives him a 41.1 TTO%. Similarly, Kelby Tomlinson’s 29.1 TTO% would put him 9th on this list.
And we can see how the Three True Outcomes aren’t (yet) the be all end all of baseball statcasting and that the Giants’ valuable hitters come in all shapes and sizes. More home runs and walks are always good things, of course, and as much as we joke about the Adam Dunns of baseball, Barry Bonds’ TTO% is 38.5%.
But look at Brandon Belt up there. He could very easily step into that TTO guy who is a lot of walks and home runs. Welcome back, Brandon Belt.