Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mike Schmidt: Free-swinging sluggers should shorten up to cut down on strikeouts

It’s a job…no wonder they don’t like it!

If I could make one suggestion to Mark Reynolds, or anyone else listening, it would be to find a “go to” approach. In golf, the great ones have a swing and ball shape that they go to under pressure. It’s a swing they know will keep the ball in play. In baseball, there are at-bats where contact is paramount. At-bats where a strikeout fails to advance runners, kills a rally, leaves a runner on third, stops momentum and brings down the crowd. A contact or “go to” stroke is the answer. At the end of the year, tracking contact in those at-bats would show a high percentage of times the team benefited. That, in itself, should be enough motivation.

Mark Reynolds and any other high K guy could choke up, spread out and just center the ball, and they’d hit 50 home runs and around .300 in today’s game.

Eventually they will, like John Daly in golf. When he gets older, loses his length and ego that goes with it, he’ll learn to play a simpler, more rewarding game. When hitters understand that a shorter, less violent, level swing increases contact, when they realize that more contact means more production, more consistency, and more wins, they’ll change.

It took me 13 years to see the light, make those changes and become “dangerous” and “good.” Why should they wait that long? Take it from me and my buddies: Sometimes a single is harder to hit than a home run!

Repoz Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:02 AM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: arizona, history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1.  Hey Gurl Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:30 AM (#3336229)
Take it from me and my buddies: Sometimes a single is harder to hit than a home run!


So if the home run is easier to hit, and more beneficial...?

Nevermind, pass.
   2. Tripon Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:41 AM (#3336236)
Schimdt's point is that the home run swing can make it a lot easier to strike out.
   3.  Hey Gurl Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:44 AM (#3336238)
You don't say.
   4. God Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:45 AM (#3336239)
Wade Boggs: "Guys with high batting averages suck balls."
Joe Sewell: "Contact hitting is for hosers."
Bert Blyleven: "The curveball is a piece of #### pitch."
   5. Baldrick Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:46 AM (#3336240)
Mark Reynolds and any other high K guy could choke up, spread out and just center the ball, and they’d hit 50 home runs and around .300 in today’s game.

No, they wouldn't.
   6. Downtown Bookie Posted: September 30, 2009 at 04:49 AM (#3336245)
Mark Reynolds and any other high K guy could choke up, spread out and just center the ball, and they’d hit 50 home runs and around .300 in today’s game.


Yep; fifty homers and .300 BA with few strikeouts; just like you used to, right Mike?

DB
   7. heyyoo Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:18 AM (#3336258)
Actually the article title as posted on SN is unfortunate, as is the section that was highlighted. The first half of the article is actually pretty good, and lends valuable perspective.
   8. Northpaw Posted: September 30, 2009 at 05:45 AM (#3336265)
Michael Jordan: "Forget scoring, pass the ball and make your teammates better."
   9. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: September 30, 2009 at 06:36 AM (#3336271)
It took me 13 years to see the light, make those changes and become “dangerous” and “good.”


He wasn't "dangerous" and "good" when he won back-to-back MVPs?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2009 at 08:09 AM (#3336286)
He wasn't "dangerous" and "good" when he won back-to-back MVPs?

Nah, just dangerous. Everybody knows good hitters hit 300.
   11. bookbook Posted: September 30, 2009 at 10:48 AM (#3336296)
Michael Jordan: "Forget scoring, pass the ball and make your teammates better."

That's appropriate, perhaps. Michael Jordan was a phenomenal passer.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 30, 2009 at 11:03 AM (#3336298)
All that the bulk of the above comments prove is that most Primates love to post their opinions without reading the articles. They would have been right at home on Crossfire. All we need now is for some BTF version of Michael Kay to claim that the strikeout is a "productive out" and we'll have squared the circle.
   13. CFiJ Posted: September 30, 2009 at 11:06 AM (#3336299)
Nice insightful article, non-judgmental and reasonable. Doesn't deserve all the snark.
   14. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 11:36 AM (#3336301)
Schmidt is the best. He was my second favorite player after Rickey! and it's a joy to see he's actually someone my adult self would like to meet and talk baseball with.
   15. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: September 30, 2009 at 11:53 AM (#3336302)
He wasn't "dangerous" and "good" when he won back-to-back MVPs?

Nah, just dangerous. Everybody knows good hitters hit 300.


True. He hit only .298 over those years.
   16. Downtown Bookie Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:02 PM (#3336306)
All that the bulk of the above comments prove is that most Primates love to post their opinions without reading the articles.


You say that as if it's bad thing. 8-)

Actually, whether knowingly or not, the exchange in #10 & #11 does have its roots in the article:

#10:

He wasn't "dangerous" and "good" when he won back-to-back MVPs?


#11:

Nah, just dangerous. Everybody knows good hitters hit 300.


The article:

I guess my problem was I felt the opposing pitcher saw me as a dangerous hitter, not a good hitter.


Besides, there's isn't any context in the article that makes the following any less silly:

Mark Reynolds and any other high K guy could choke up, spread out and just center the ball, and they'd hit 50 home runs and around .300 in today's game.


So while your point is valid, that there is some wheat in the article along with the chaff, that doesn't mean that we can't have some fun here laughing at the chaff.

DB

EDIT: Grammar stuff
   17. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:08 PM (#3336308)
So while your point is valid, that there is some wheat in the article along with the chaff, doesn't mean that we can't have some fun here laughing at the chaff.

90% of what gets posted here is chaff. I'm just happy when we get some wheat. When the wheat comes from an all-time great, that's even better. It's not like we're going to be shortchanged opportunity to snark. I mean, there's a Plaschke article on hot topics right now!
   18. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:37 PM (#3336325)
I thought this was as well-written an article I've ever read by a former player, Doug Glanville notwithstanding. I don't see why his .300/50 comment is so unreasonable. Reynolds has hit only 14 of his 44 homers with two strikes, and if he cut his K's in half, he will pretty much automatically get another 30+ hits. That would bring his average up to .336. Some of those hits are bound to be homers, so it doesn't sound that far-fetched to me that if he put enough balls in play to hit .300 that he'd have 50 homers.
   19. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:42 PM (#3336331)
I haven't bothered to look up Schmidt's stats to see if he changed, but in this excerpt he's specifically saying that he was the same way as Reynolds for 13 years. Then he wised up and stopped trying to swing hard every at-bat. So it's perfectly cromulent.

The comments in #4 and #9 are like if an ex-drug addict comes to a school and says that drugs are bad, I cleaned up my life and it's better now, and the people in the crowd just heckle.

Again, I don't know if Schmidt actually changed his style.
   20. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: September 30, 2009 at 12:49 PM (#3336339)
Reynolds has hit only 14 of his 44 homers with two strikes, and if he cut his K's in half, he will pretty much automatically get another 30+ hits. That would bring his average up to .336. Some of those hits are bound to be homers, so it doesn't sound that far-fetched to me that if he put enough balls in play to hit .300 that he'd have 50 homers.


No. Not seeing it. Take away nearly a third of his HR and he's going to hit 50? How do you automatically get 30 hits by swinging weakly in 200 AB? He's hit 14 HR with 2 strikes, and 37 other hits. How many of those go away because he's not swinging hard enough? Enough to put a significant drag on the march to .300 I suspect.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:10 PM (#3336352)
All that the bulk of the above comments prove is that most Primates love to post their opinions without reading the articles.

You say that as if it's bad thing. 8-)


In one of the better Groucho Marx urban legends, he put it this way to a woman who was a contestant on his quiz show. He pretty much expresses my sentiments on the topic of too much of a good thing:

Groucho: So do you have any children?

Contestant: Thirteen.

Groucho: THIRTEEN??!!!

Contestant: Oh, yes, Groucho, I love children!

Groucho: Well, I like to smoke, but I take the cigar out of my mouth once in a while.


----------------------------

I haven't bothered to look up Schmidt's stats to see if he changed, but in this excerpt he's specifically saying that he was the same way as Reynolds for 13 years. Then he wised up and stopped trying to swing hard every at-bat. So it's perfectly cromulent.

The comments in #4 and #9 are like if an ex-drug addict comes to a school and says that drugs are bad, I cleaned up my life and it's better now, and the people in the crowd just heckle.

Again, I don't know if Schmidt actually changed his style.


After 1983 Schmidt did cut down his strikeouts significantly, dropping from 27.7/100 AB in 1983, to 21.9 & 21.3 in 1984-85, and then 15.2 in 1986, his last MVP year, when he was 36.
   22. The Marksist Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:32 PM (#3336378)
At the end of the year, tracking contact in those at-bats would show a high percentage of times the team benefited.

Seems like this sentence is the crux of his argument. Of course, it's an untested hypothesis. Setting aside the very legitimate beef with the idea that cutting down strikeouts would automatically make a hitter like Reynolds more productive, is there any way to estimate the gain from a pure contact approach in certain situations? Any way to estimate the loss due to reduced power in those situations?
   23. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:41 PM (#3336385)
Fundamentally it's a bad idea to try to change a player's approach once he's at the major league level; everyone in the major leagues is already highly advanced and trained. Mark Reynolds is, I submit, already optimally or near-optimally applying his offensive skill set. He doesn't have the skill set to strike out less without become a less effective overall player, and you run the risk of ruining him altogether if you try to force him to.

The oldest mistake in management is focusing on what your people can't do instead of what they can. The assertion that Mark Reynolds should cut down on his swing and strike out less is no less ill-advised than encouraging Juan Pierre to lengthen his swing and hit 20 home runs a year.

But I'm not sure Schmidt is saying Reynolds should change his basic style per se; it seems more like his argument is, 'I cut down on my strikeouts while still remaining otherwise awesome for a few years. Mark Reynolds should do that!' Well... yeah, but you were Mike ####### Schmidt.

Same reason Wayne Gretzky was a bad coach. Great players often make poor coaches/instructors, because possessing godlike talent, they can't relate to people who have merely pro-level talent. Wayne Gretzky's reaction to watching his team is "hey, guys, you should skate faster and pass more accurately and shoot quicker."
   24. bunyon Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:45 PM (#3336390)
I think it is clear Schmidt is right: if Mark Reynolds cut down on his Ks and simultaneously boosted his BA/OBP with two strikes, even if he sacrificed some power, he'd be a better player. Of course, he assumes that Reynolds can do this. If he can, he should. I submit that he probably can't and that, at the end of the day, Mark Reynolds just isn't as good as Mike Schmidt. Which really isn't all that surprising.

However, I do take some umbrage with Reynolds' comments. He should be continually trying to improve his game. Maybe he can cut down on Ks, maybe he can't. But no player, when confronted with a weakness in their game, should just say, "so what". A poor defender should work to improve that. A bad baserunner should work to improve that.
   25. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 01:50 PM (#3336398)
Maybe he can cut down on Ks, maybe he can't. But no player, when confronted with a weakness in their game, should just say, "so what". A poor defender should work to improve that. A bad baserunner should work to improve that.


Yes, but Reynolds is not a poor hitter. He's an excellent hitter. Reynolds apparently wasn't listening when Crash Davis tried to teach him his clichés, but aside from that I can't draw any conclusions. Maybe he's arrogant/lazy to his own detriment; then again, maybe he's just smart enough to know what his strengths and limitations are. It's no insult to self or others to say that (insert name of any third baseman that ever touched a baseball here) is not Mike Schmidt.
   26. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:04 PM (#3336419)
Fundamentally it's a bad idea to try to change a player's approach once he's at the major league level; everyone in the major leagues is already highly advanced and trained. Mark Reynolds is, I submit, already optimally or near-optimally applying his offensive skill set.

Ben Zobrist says hi, and then hits another homerun.
   27. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:04 PM (#3336422)
However, I do take some umbrage with Reynolds' comments. He should be continually trying to improve his game. Maybe he can cut down on Ks, maybe he can't. But no player, when confronted with a weakness in their game, should just say, "so what". A poor defender should work to improve that. A bad baserunner should work to improve that.

Well, Reynolds is playing better defense, walking more, and even stealing more bases at a decent rate. I think his comments about the K's are a product of defensiveness and exhaustion at always having to answer questions about them. He's gone from being a semi-crappy player in 2008 to a really good player in 2009.
   28. Rants Mulliniks Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:06 PM (#3336424)
No. Not seeing it. Take away nearly a third of his HR and he's going to hit 50? How do you automatically get 30 hits by swinging weakly in 200 AB? He's hit 14 HR with 2 strikes, and 37 other hits. How many of those go away because he's not swinging hard enough? Enough to put a significant drag on the march to .300 I suspect.


His career BABIP is .344. League average BABIP is over .300, so even if the extra 100 balls he puts in play (as opposed to Ks) are the result if weeker swings with two strikes, he'll pick up at least 30 hits by default. I he'd only have to adopt the weaker, surer swing in situations where a K was particularly damaging, not all 200 ABs with 2 strikes against him. The only thing worse than a K is a DP, and he's more of a flyball hitter so that shouldn't be a concern.
   29. RJ in TO Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:09 PM (#3336427)
His on-contact numbers are 0.424/0.893. I'm not sure of the normal ranges for that value (or if I'm calculating it right), but that seems to be towards the upper end (or above the upper end) of what is sustainable.

For comparison, Adam Dunn is at 0.378/0.771 for his career, and 0.401/0.796 for this season.
   30. JPWF13 Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:19 PM (#3336438)
After 1983 Schmidt did cut down his strikeouts significantly, dropping from 27.7/100 AB in 1983, to 21.9 & 21.3 in 1984-85, and then 15.2 in 1986, his last MVP year, when he was 36.


Back in the 80s I had to work with a couple of guys from Philly, and I assumed they all loved Schmidt, nope, they regarded him pretty much the same way Mets fans regarded Kingman- which was completely insane- plus they all loved Pete Rose.

I think from the beginning to the end of his career, Schmidt was told- by the Philly media, phans, and even team management that he struck out too much. At some point he seems to have internalized that opinion.

Btw there was a correlation between Schmidt's K rate and his productivity- it was positive, the more he K'd the better he was and vice versa*. The lowest K rates of his career were 1988 and 1989- where he dropped off a cliff- yes he was old, but imho his persistent efforts to recast himself as a contact hitter were counterproductive and shortened his career- if he had continued to "take and rake" his last years would have been more productive.

But what do I know, I'm just a fan...


*when his k-rate started dropping he did have a brief batting average boost, but as his k-rate dropped some more his power began to flag and his BABIP started downward as well- bad trends all around
   31. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:27 PM (#3336445)
All we need now is for some BTF version of Michael Kay to claim that the strikeout is a "productive out" and we'll have squared the circle.


They sure are. It takes at least three pitches and usually more to strike a hitter out. You wind up wearing down the pitcher and forcing the manager to go to his pen earlier in the game.
   32. Baldrick Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:28 PM (#3336447)
His career BABIP is .344. League average BABIP is over .300, so even if the extra 100 balls he puts in play (as opposed to Ks) are the result if weeker swings with two strikes, he'll pick up at least 30 hits by default. I he'd only have to adopt the weaker, surer swing in situations where a K was particularly damaging, not all 200 ABs with 2 strikes against him. The only thing worse than a K is a DP, and he's more of a flyball hitter so that shouldn't be a concern.

Sorry, but that just does not make sense.

What are these supposed situations where a K is "particularly damaging"?

It is exceptionally hard to drive a major league fastball. Choking up and being defensive once you've got two strikes is a recipe for still striking out a lot but also hitting a lot of weak groundouts.

Let's say he does pick up 30 extra hits "by default." You'd have to concede he'd also be sacrificing a lot of his two-strike power, which someone mentioned has been responsible for 14 homeruns. Is that a worthwhile trade? Probably not, and that's even assuming he's physically capable of changing his game like that.

The Reynolds who swings hard and strikes out a lot is a flyball hitter. Why should we assume that choking-up-and-scared-of-strikeouts Reynolds won't ground into lots of double plays?
   33. rfloh Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:39 PM (#3336460)

Fundamentally it's a bad idea to try to change a player's approach once he's at the major league level; everyone in the major leagues is already highly advanced and trained. Mark Reynolds is, I submit, already optimally or near-optimally applying his offensive skill set. He doesn't have the skill set to strike out less without become a less effective overall player, and you run the risk of ruining him altogether if you try to force him to.


A question for you: since everyone in MLB is highly advanced and trained, should they try to learn new skills? Improve on existing ones?
   34. rfloh Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:41 PM (#3336464)

The Reynolds who swings hard and strikes out a lot is a flyball hitter. Why should we assume that choking-up-and-scared-of-strikeouts Reynolds won't ground into lots of double plays?


Ichiro! can hit more home runs if he wants to.
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3336478)
All we need now is for some BTF version of Michael Kay to claim that the strikeout is a "productive out" and we'll have squared the circle.

They sure are. It takes at least three pitches and usually more to strike a hitter out. You wind up wearing down the pitcher and forcing the manager to go to his pen earlier in the game.


Well, against that you'd have to balance it with the other type of "productive out," the one that moves along the baserunner and either sets up or drives in a run. Strikeouts only accomplish that in the case of a wild pitch or passed ball with first base unoccupied.

There are only two "advantages" to a strikeout: The one you mention (which can be far better accomplished by a batter who develops the ability to foul off pitches), and the avoidance of the double play. Any other "advantage" is pure romanticism. Of course it doesn't follow from that that you should force every free swinger to change his whole approach to hitting, but it doesn't follow from that that strikeouts per se aren't a bad thing.
   36. AROM Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3336479)
Schmidt did indeed change his approach in the mid 80's, and it was a story in the Philadelphia newspapers back then.
   37. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 02:55 PM (#3336484)
Gents, if I went around qualifying every statement I make with a BOCTAOE (But Of Course There Are Obviious Exceptions) as many Primates think people should, I wouldn't have much time left to make more statements to suffix with more BOCTAOEs. But here, I'll throw you a bone:

Fundamentally it's a bad idea to try to change a player's approach once he's at the major league level; everyone in the major leagues is already highly advanced and trained. BOCTAOE.

And here I thought things like 'Juan Pierre should learn to hit for more power' and 'Carlos Lee should learn to run faster' and 'Oliver Perez should learn to throw consistent strikes' and 'Mark Reynolds should hit for a higher average' could easily be dismissed on grounds you can't teach a player to do something that isn't in his skill set. I think pretty much any player's skill set is well defined by the time he reaches the Major League level.
   38. ecallen Posted: September 30, 2009 at 06:20 PM (#3336815)
On Reynolds 2-strike numbers: 7 of 14 2-strike homers have been in a full count, which is a very different situation than 0-2,1-2,or even 2-2. At that point, the pitcher is also treading the line. Reynolds' OPS on 0-2 is 0.119(!), on 1-2 is 0.461, and on 2-2 is 0.369. His numbers are similar last year. Compare those to Adrian Gonzalez (chosen simply because he also has 40 homers), who has OPSs of 0.675/0.338/0.598 in similar situations. Not to say that this is great, but is much better than Reynolds.

While you can't say with certainty that it is possible to change a player's approach, it certainly seems like Reynolds could be doing better in 2-strike situations.
   39. McCoy Posted: September 30, 2009 at 06:31 PM (#3336825)
So then the answer is not to swing at 0-2, 1-2, and 2-2 in the hope that it gets to 3-2 right?

2 strike counts are always a bit misleading since it is the only time that a swing and a miss ends the at bat. You swing and miss on a 0-1 count your batting average for 0-1 doesn't go down, you simply move into the next bracket.

He could be doing better but it hasn't really been proven that if he simply chokes up on the bat and weakly hits the ball that he will do better. How many of his 0-2 situations got turned into 1-2 situations? How many of them would turn into 1-2 situations if he simply choked up and weakly hit balls in play at that point? If pitchers knew he started taking a choke up and weakly hit the ball in play approach at 0-2 wouldn't they change their approach as well? Why nibble and risk balls when you can simply throw him some closer in strikes to have him groundout to the SS?

Finally of course we have a sample bias. Just like pitchers that tend to throw a strike on the very first pitch tend to do better than pitchers that throw a ball on their very first pitch so to is the problem with this data. 0-2 counts tend to not only reflect what Mark is doing but what opposing pitchers are doing. The same thing applies with 3-2, 3-0, and so on. Pitchers that get into 3-0 counts tend to be worse than pitchers that get into 0-2 counts and I am willing to bet that Mark Reynolds is facing a better pitcher in his 0-2 counts than the pitchers he is facing in his favorable counts.
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2009 at 06:42 PM (#3336838)
Yes, but Reynolds is not a poor hitter. He's an excellent hitter.


Reynolds has had an excellent year. He's also a year removed from a 96 OPS-Plus season. It's way too early to call Reynolds an excellent hitter.
   41. ecallen Posted: September 30, 2009 at 06:48 PM (#3336845)
Since we can't really run any controlled experiments with players (sadly, MLB hasn't created mind-control devices for the fans as of yet), the best we can do is compare Reynolds results with those of other players in similar situations. I chose Adrian Gonzalez as a comp, but you're welcome to choose anyone else.

WRT to stats on 0-2,1-2,and 2-2: that's a good point. You could also use the "After 0-2", After 1-2, and After 2-2 splits on ESPN. Reynolds is also really bad on those splits.
   42. ColonelTom Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:01 PM (#3336864)
Reynolds' rise from decent to "excellent" this year has been largely fueled by a spike in converting fly balls to home runs (27%, up from 18% in '08 and 16% in '07. That number is likely to fall next year. He also plays in an excellent hitter's park.

The guy is also 25. I wouldn't give up on improving his approach yet.
   43. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:06 PM (#3336874)
Fundamentally it's a bad idea to try to change a player's approach once he's at the major league level; everyone in the major leagues is already highly advanced and trained. BOCTAOE.

And here I thought things like 'Juan Pierre should learn to hit for more power' and 'Carlos Lee should learn to run faster' and 'Oliver Perez should learn to throw consistent strikes' and 'Mark Reynolds should hit for a higher average' could easily be dismissed on grounds you can't teach a player to do something that isn't in his skill set. I think pretty much any player's skill set is well defined by the time he reaches the Major League level.


Plenty of hitters have "learned" to add power by adding strength, either legally or illegally; plenty of pitchers have gradually mastered command of their pitches; and plenty of hitters have also refined their general batting skills over the years. If that weren't the case, few players would last past 30.

Maybe Reynolds is just one of those Nature Boys whose sensitive psyche would be ruined by trying to adjust his swing with two strikes, the way a tennis player eases up on his second serve. And in any case, since he's shown such improvement this year, it would probably be wise to leave him alone for now.

But unless he's really something special like a Schmidt or a Killebrew, there's also a good chance he's going to wind up putting on weight and winding up at best like Rob Deer or Pete Incaviglia, easily pitched to and of little use to any good team. What already seems a bad sign is his seeming attitude that at the ripe old age of 25 he already knows all there is to know.
   44. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:09 PM (#3336878)
What already seems a bad sign is his seeming attitude that at the ripe old age of 25 he already knows all there is to know.

Again, I think this is a harsh judgement on a guy who has improved every facet of his game this year.
   45. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:14 PM (#3336889)
I was going by his comments, not his current performance. We'll see how he reacts if he doesn't keep it up.
   46. BDC Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:16 PM (#3336893)
The lowest K rates of his career were 1988 and 1989- where he dropped off a cliff- yes he was old, but imho his persistent efforts to recast himself as a contact hitter were counterproductive and shortened his career- if he had continued to "take and rake" his last years would have been more productive

Although, the other way of looking at that is that Schmidt got two last outstanding years ('86 and '87) out of a slightly different approach – before injuries, as much as age, caught up to him. His problem in '88 was his rotator cuff, not his batting philosophy.
   47. JPWF13 Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:18 PM (#3336896)
So then the answer is not to swing at 0-2, 1-2, and 2-2 in the hope that it gets to 3-2 right?


On 0-2 counts Dunn is .117/.125/.228 (PA resolved on the 0-2 pitch) (337 PAs)
after 0-2 counts Dunn is .125/.200/.243 (917 PAs)

On 0-2 counts Ryan Howard is .112/.129/.208 201 PAs
after 0-2 counts Howard is . .149/.194/.292 526 PAs

On 0-2 counts Reynolds is .118/.125/.228 (exactly the same as Dunn- in 1/3rd the PAs...)(128 PAs)
after 0-2 counts Reynolds is .154/.189/.267 (360 PAs)

WRT Reynolds, I think it's pretty obvious that on 0-2 counts.... he's Adam Dunn...
Howard has a little harder time getting past an 0-2 count than do Dunn or Reynolds, but once he does he's a somewhat better hitter.

I'm kind of surprised that 1/3 of Dunn's 0-2 PAs actually end on the 0-2 count (same as Reynolds)- I suspect most 0-2 counts end on such counts because the batter swings at ball 1- and either misses it or hits it feebly- Dunn (I thought) would be more willing to take ball 1... (he is more willing that Howard fwiw)

On 0-2 counts Juan Pierre is .263/.280/.304 (493 PAs)
after 0-2 counts Pierre is .238/.260/.279 (883 PAs)
Pierre is weird, his worst count is 1-2.

On 0-2 counts Ichiro is .250/.255/.292 (458 PAs)
after 0-2 counts Ichiro is .258/.270/.300 (983 PAs)

Pretty much the count is irrelevant to Pierre.

You know, I change my mind, on 0-2 counts guys like Howard/Dunn/Reynolds SHOULD change their approach- how could it make it any worse? Obviously none of them have Pierre/Ichiro's foot speed, but still...
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:24 PM (#3336901)
You know, I change my mind, on 0-2 counts guys like Howard/Dunn/Reynolds SHOULD change their approach- how could it make it any worse?

Well, as long as their health plan covers psychoanalysis....
   49. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:25 PM (#3336902)
On 0-2 counts, Dustin Pedroia is .284 / .292 / .397 - better than any of these guys.

Does he change his approach, or what?
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:33 PM (#3336907)
Does he change his approach, or what?


Why would he?

The point he's making is that the problem for Dunn/Reynolds/Howard is that with two strikes on them, they are abysmal hittters, inferior under that particular circumstance to the Juan Pierres of the world. If there's something they can to at two strikes to improve their performances, then they should explore it.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:34 PM (#3336908)
How much does 0-2 count performance vary based on how afraid the pitcher is to throw you a strike?

I would assume slappy hitters (like Pierre, and to a lesser extent Ichiro) see much better 0-2 pitches than the big sluggers.
   52. this space for rent Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:41 PM (#3336914)
Since we can't really run any controlled experiments with players (sadly, MLB hasn't created mind-control devices for the fans as of yet), the best we can do is compare Reynolds results with those of other players in similar situations. I chose Adrian Gonzalez as a comp, but you're welcome to choose anyone else.


How about the league as a whole?

Reynolds' sOPS+ (split OPS+) with two strikes is 99; in other words, he is almost exactly as productive as the average hitter with two strikes.

He seems to be really really bad with a 0-2 count (of the 42 times he got to 0-2 and the PA ended on the next pitch, he managed 2 hits (1 2B) against 29 Ks for a sOPS+ of -39), but overall he does just fine with two strikes - he's roughly average on PA after he reaches 1-2 or 2-2 and is a terror with a full count.

If there's a "flaw" with his approach, it's not that he's a bad hitter with two strikes but that he reaches a two strike count "too often." But that approach is also what allows him to mash the ball in those PA when he doesn't reach two strikes.

So unless there is some way for Reynolds to swing-and-miss less often or take fewer called strikes without affecting his walk rate or his productivity when he does make contact, then it seems like he's optimizing his productivity just fine. (And if there is a way to do that, I doubt "choke up and focus on making contact" is it...)
   53. JPWF13 Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:48 PM (#3336918)
I would assume slappy hitters (like Pierre, and to a lesser extent Ichiro) see much better 0-2 pitches than the big sluggers.


I would assume so too, but if I was a pitcher, why would I throw an 0-2 strike to Pierre? He'll swing at anything as it is.

What is surprising is Barry Bonds, 0-2 performance: .184/.197/.313, after 0-2: .207/.278/.399,
He's terrible on 0-2 (better than the K brothers troika, but not as good as Ichiro or Pierre) But once he gets past that 0-2 (to 1-2 etc) he's much better than the others including Ichiro.

BTW Bonds highest BABIP is on the 0-2 pitch, really it is. All I can make of that is, well I don't know what to make of that... I suspect he was too careful about not swinging at "waste pitches", took quite a few too many called 3rd strikes, but that what he swung at were good pitches to hit...

Pujols is .218/.232/.397 on 0-2, and .257/.297/.448 after 0-2
His BABIP is pretty flat no matter what the count, I don't think he changes his approach no matter what the count...and it works no matter what the count, Pitchers can't win...
   54. ecallen Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:53 PM (#3336924)
@il returno de CC:

I suppose it depends on if you think 3-2 should be included with the other two-strike counts. The conventional wisdom is that you change approach with 2 strikes, but 3-2 clearly seems to be a different situation for a lot of the players mentioned in this thread. There is no reason that the change is strategy HAS to be choke up in every 2 strike situation. His overall OPS+ is 138, while his sOPS+ After 0-2,1-2 and 2-2 are 56,90, and 111, respectively.

Edited for clarity
   55. this space for rent Posted: September 30, 2009 at 07:56 PM (#3336926)
The point he's making is that the problem for Dunn/Reynolds/Howard is that with two strikes on them, they are abysmal hittters, inferior under that particular circumstance to the Juan Pierres of the world. If there's something they can to at two strikes to improve their performances, then they should explore it.


It's really only at 0-2, specifically when the PA ends without getting to 1-2, for all three. They're all just fine overall at 2 strikes, if not as good as they are before that point. Dunn has a 136 sOPS+ in all PA when he reaches 2 strikes this year; Howard has a 101, and Reynolds has a 99.

Maybe there's something mental going on there - it's possible that some or all of this trio are more likely to fish for the slider on an 0-2 count than any other 2 strike count or takes more called third strikes on an 0-2 count.

Heck, maybe they are trying to change their approach at 0-2, and that's actually the problem. They also all had much lower BABIP on 0-2 counts than their overall average, which is what you would expect from a batter who was choking up to focus on contact - they're just not succeeding at the "contact" piece very well.
   56. JPWF13 Posted: September 30, 2009 at 08:08 PM (#3336935)
They also all had much lower BABIP on 0-2 counts than their overall average,


Dunn has a .292 career BABIP, .286 on 0-2
Howard .327 and .283 on 0-2

Reynolds .343 and .265


That may be true for Howard and especially Reynolds, not for Dunn, Dunn's problem is that 0-2 has a nagging problem of being resolved as a strikeout....
   57. this space for rent Posted: September 30, 2009 at 08:15 PM (#3336944)
I suppose it depends on if you think 3-2 should be included with the other two-strike counts.


I would definitely include 3-2 counts that were arrived at from a X-2 count - part of the benefit of Reynolds' approach with 2 strikes and fewer than 3 balls is that he sometimes works his way out of a pitcher's count to a full count and can then take full advantage of that fact. There's absolutely no guarantee that he would be able to do so as often if he changed his approach, regardless of any other effect doing so might have.

Looking solely at other counts, however,

his sOPS+ After 0-2,1-2 and 2-2 are 56,90, and 111, respectively.


So the more Reynolds "should" choke up and focus on contact, the worse he does - but he's still roughly average as long as he avoids an 0-2 count.

Is there something special about 0-2? And if so, what is it? It could be that there are some pitchers whose delivery Reynolds just can't master and they tend to get him to 0-2 and then put him away. It could be that he actually does change his approach (consciously or unconsciously) at 0-2 and that's the problem. Or it could just be a sample size fluke.

It actually seems least likely to me that he's using exactly the same approach at 0-2 and that approach is generally less likely to succeed there than it does on other counts (as opposed to specifically less likely to succeed against the really nasty pitchers, suggesting that maybe he should change his approach against them - but that would apply on all counts, not just 0-2).
   58. McCoy Posted: October 01, 2009 at 04:51 AM (#3337272)
I think once again people are still ignoring the pitcher in all this. Pitchers that get hitters to 0-2 and then end the at bat in the before the next mark is struck on the board are better than pitchers that let hitters get to 1-2. I don't think it is a very big surprise that power/patient hitters that get to 0-2 do poorly at that point in the at bat. Their two biggest weapons are almost nullified at that point. Whereas some slappy contact hitter who almost never strikes out is basically in the same situation he is always in at 0-2. A slappy hitter who makes contact all the time and plays at the major league level is going to do better because if he didn't do better he wouldn't be good enough to be in the majors.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Tuque
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogMike Scioscia, Matt Williams voted top managers
(26 - 5:07am, Oct 22)
Last: Dr. Vaux

Newsblog2014 WORLD SERIES GAME 1 OMNICHATTER
(603 - 5:01am, Oct 22)
Last: Harveys Wallbangers

NewsblogSielski: A friend fights for ex-Phillie Dick Allen's Hall of Fame induction
(116 - 4:59am, Oct 22)
Last: Harveys Wallbangers

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - October 2014
(317 - 4:33am, Oct 22)
Last: HMS Moses Taylor

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 2014 Discussion
(20 - 3:04am, Oct 22)
Last: bjhanke

NewsblogFan Returns Home Run Ball to Ishikawa; Receives World Series tickets
(57 - 2:07am, Oct 22)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogAs Focus Faded and Losses Piled Up, Royals Change Their Game
(7 - 1:16am, Oct 22)
Last: boteman

NewsblogRoyals’ James Shields passed kidney stone during ALCS but is ready for World Series | The Kansas City Star
(40 - 1:00am, Oct 22)
Last: Roger Freed Is Ready

NewsblogDealing or dueling – what’s a manager to do? | MGL on Baseball
(19 - 12:52am, Oct 22)
Last: Mike Emeigh

NewsblogOT: Politics, October 2014: Sunshine, Baseball, and Etch A Sketch: How Politicians Use Analogies
(2898 - 11:11pm, Oct 21)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogDombrowski told that Iglesias 'will be fine' for 2015
(21 - 10:22pm, Oct 21)
Last: fra paolo

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread, September 2014
(852 - 8:40pm, Oct 21)
Last: Biff, highly-regarded young guy

NewsblogBaseball's hardest throwing bullpen - Beyond the Box Score
(10 - 8:02pm, Oct 21)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogMorosi: Could Cain’s story make baseball king of sports world again?
(107 - 7:04pm, Oct 21)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogBaseball Prospectus | Pebble Hunting: An Illustrated Guide to the People of Kauffman Stadium
(10 - 6:00pm, Oct 21)
Last: Perry

Page rendered in 0.8303 seconds
52 querie(s) executed