Early numbers suggest Nick Maton could be three-true-outcome hitter
The Detroit Tigers acquired Nick Maton, Matt Vierling, and Donny Sands in a trade that sent Gregory Soto and Kody Clemens to the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason. Vierling has been okay, with borderline elite defense and a pedestrian bat. Sands is in Triple-A. Maton has been the most noteworthy player so far, as he leads the team in home runs with four. He's also hitting .141 with a 58 wRC+.
He's walking at an 11.3% clip and striking out 25% of the time. His at-bats can be fun to watch, as he doesn't chase very often and grinds out his at-bats. When he does make contact, he hits the ball hard, placing in the 80th percentile in barrel rate according to Baseball Savant. But for the most part, his at-bats seem to end in either a walk, a strikeout, or a home run. Is he a three-true-outcome hitter?
When people think of three-true-outcome hitters, the guy that immediately comes to mind is Joey Gallo, who currently plays for the Twins. His batting average always hovers around the Mendoza-line, his walk rate is usually in the mid to high teens, and he strikes out a ton. But he also hits 35-40 home runs a year, at least in his prime when he was in Texas.
Another example would be Adam Dunn, who Tigers fans might be familiar with from his time with the White Sox. He had a very similar hitting profile as Gallo—low average, high walk rate, high strikeout rate, 35-40 home runs.
Now Maton is not built like those guys. Gallo and Dunn are both 6'5+ and 250+ lbs. They are both built to hit bombs. Maton is listed at 6'2, 178 lbs. But he has a quick bat and crushes fastballs.
Will Nick Maton ever become a 35-40 home runs hitter? Maybe, but I don't think so. Right now he's on pace to hit 30 home runs, which would be the most home runs hit by a Tigers hitter since Miggy in 2016. I think you should be happy if he hits 20 home runs.
There's evidence to suggest this in his minor league numbers as well. He had a high walk rate and high K-rate at every level of the minors. He didn't always hit for a ton of power, but the other two outcomes have always tracked.
The last thing we'll talk about is whether or not this counts as "dominating the strike zone." I would say Maton definitely fits that bill because of his at-bats. He seems to go deep into the count just about every AB. It doesn't always result in getting on base, but it's better to be patient than be ultra aggressive.
Nick Maton doesn't make a whole lot of contact, but when he does, it tends to go a long way. He also draws a lot of walks and strikes out a lot. It's still early in his career, but there's evidence to suggest that he could be a three-true-outcome hitter.