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Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Old School Approach Failed José Ramírez

Ramírez altered his approach to try and beat the shift, an approach some broadcasters implore players to take, and it failed miserably. Ramírez went away from his strength to try and pick up so-called easy hits and he lost his power and didn’t even get those easy hits. Hitting the ball is an extremely difficult task, and Ramírez had been very successful beating the shift by hitting the ball very hard, often over the fence without concerning himself with to the opposite field. Now that he’s embraced his old shift-beating ways, Ramírez is back to being one of the best hitters in the game.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 15, 2019 at 05:31 PM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: shifts

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   1. Srul Itza Posted: August 15, 2019 at 08:30 PM (#5871817)
New School approach working tonight -- 2-2 with a grand slam and a 2-run shot.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: August 16, 2019 at 12:53 AM (#5871895)
I'm not sure which Jose tried to apply but the following are not the same:

1) Hit the ball the other way occasionally to make them pay for the shift
2) Hit the ball where it's pitched
3) Try to hit the ball the other way

I'd say most of the announcers, etc. I hear are advocating 1 or 2, not 3. I'm not sure any of them work but #3 is always going to be a bad idea for a hard-hitting pull hitter.

Included in here though is what exactly did Ramirez expect to achieve? He'd put up a 148 OPS+ the last two years, not usually the sort of performance leaving you thinking "I need to change something." He did have a big drop in BA last year relative to 2016-17 but he replaced most of that with walks -- which is to say that after slugging 583, pitchers thought it might be a good idea to nibble more.

Then there's whether this is exactly the fix he wants. He has been on fire since the end of June but at the expense of walks -- 307/335/654. Now if you're gonna hit 307 with a 350 ISO it doesn't matter a whole lot how much you walk but that is a much lower OBP than 2016-18 -- results in the same OPS+ but less OBP-heavy would (likely) make it a bit less valuable.

Then there's the pesky little fact that he's pulling the ball more this season than before, at least as a LHB. Below are LHB counts for pulled/away and their ratio; then for RHB:

2016 115 70 1.6
2017 130 45 2.9
2018 147 44 3.3
2019 114 33 3.5

2016 37 28 1.3
2017 59 36 1.6
2018 56 20 2.8
2019 41 30 1.4

Obviously the 2019 would be a mix of old and new approaches so it's possible he was going the other way more often but has been so pull-crazy lately to more than compensate.

And then there's the statcast numbers. His average EV is the highest of his career and the average LA is the highest of his career (which may or may not be a good thing). So is his hard-hit%. His barrel% is down relative to last year but higher than 2017. However they're constructed, both his XwOBA and XwOBACON are down from the last two years.

Probably the biggest change is that the K-rate has "spiked" -- just 13.7% but that's 2-3% higher than the last two years. Certainly his HR/FB and HR% are well-down relative to 2017-18, on the order of 1-2% ... which doesn't sound like a lot but does represent 5-10 fewer HR.

Which is mainly meant to say that all of this stuff is razor thin but it's also not obvious that he was getting substantially worse results off the bat than in earlier years.
   3. Captain Supporter Posted: August 16, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5871951)
The notion that hitting the ball to the opposite field has somehow become impossible for major league ballplayers strikes me as simply ridiculous. However, I do think it might be hard to do if for players who don't practice doing so in the same way that so called "old school" players did. That means doing so starting in spring training and keeping up with it consistently throughout the year.

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