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View Full Version : Baseball Prospectus Q & A with Chris Heisey



OnBaseMachine
02-14-2010, 12:02 PM
This is a very interesting read. I can't post the whole thing, but it's free so just click on the link to read the whole interview.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=10053

I thought this was interesting:

DL: Do you pay more attention to your batting average or your on-base percentage?

CH: I would say on base percentage for sure. It’s more important. Getting on base is the whole point of the game, because that’s how you end up scoring runs, so I’d like to increase my walk numbers a little bit. But while I’d like to walk more than I do, at the same time I like to stay aggressive. I’ll still swing early in the count, because usually that’s when you get a good fastball to hit. I think there’s a fine line between walking a lot and not being aggressive enough, so I like to balance those two out.

RED VAN HOT
02-14-2010, 02:12 PM
First, thanks for posting.

Heisey never disappoints. He comes across as a student of the game with good values and a healthy outlook.

This interview touches on a topic being discussed in another thread, K/BB ratio. After posting a good K/BB ratio of 1.41 over his career, it rose to over 3 in his short stint in Louisville. I suspect the Reds are looking for a reduction to 2 before advancing him. He also brought out why the K/BB ration alone may be misleading. The trick is to stay aggressive and yet still have a good K/BB. Moreover, he sounds as if the adjustment in his swing has allowed him to wait on pitches longer.

It seems to me that the enthusiasm for Heisey has diminished slightly over the winter. I suspect he will be with the Reds by June, likely at the expense of the yet to be determined fifth outfielder.

RedsManRick
02-15-2010, 03:56 AM
All his talk about bunting makes me think he's sucking up to Dusty Baker...

RedEye
02-15-2010, 10:38 PM
I think there’s a fine line between walking a lot and not being aggressive enough, so I like to balance those two out.

Talk about covering all your bases. That quote seems evenly balanced between old school and sabermetric. I suppose you never know who your next boss is going to be. Smart guy.

dougdirt
02-15-2010, 10:55 PM
Talk about covering all your bases. That quote seems evenly balanced between old school and sabermetric. I suppose you never know who your next boss is going to be. Smart guy.

Sabermetric beliefs don't care about walks. They care about getting on base. If you can be Ichiro and hit .315 a year then you don't need to walk hardly at all. Most guys can't do that though. No one should take pitches just to take them. If you get a fastball grooved to you on the first pitch, swing from the heels. Heisey seems like he gets it though, you have to love that.

RedEye
02-16-2010, 01:32 AM
Sabermetric beliefs don't care about walks. They care about getting on base. If you can be Ichiro and hit .315 a year then you don't need to walk hardly at all. Most guys can't do that though. No one should take pitches just to take them. If you get a fastball grooved to you on the first pitch, swing from the heels. Heisey seems like he gets it though, you have to love that.

What I meant was not really that Heisey was directly quoting sabermetric dogma, but rather that he seems to have a good idea about what different schools of thought might say about hitting. What comes out is a combination of "taking walks" and "being aggressive."

OGB
02-16-2010, 02:50 AM
Reading a well thought out intelligent response like that from a prospect makes me think he has that much more of a chance to succeed at the big league level. Baseball is a thinking man's game as much or more so than any, and I think that gets ignored by many people.
Fans and sports pundits readily speculate on a college football players intelligence (or lack thereof) and how it affects his pro prospects, but you rarely hear* baseball people talk about how smart a young kid is, or wether he's a student of the game.





*Maybe I just don't hear it because I don't follow college/minor league coverage as much as some on these boards

Mario-Rijo
02-16-2010, 04:27 AM
What I meant was not really that Heisey was directly quoting sabermetric dogma, but rather that he seems to have a good idea about what different schools of thought might say about hitting. What comes out is a combination of "taking walks" and "being aggressive."

Well there really is only one true school of thought some just think there is more than one because folks are speaking 2 (or sometimes maybe more than 2) different languages. Fortunately the kids in our system have a pretty good understanding for the most part. I happen to think Rick Sweet and Donnie Scott have had some large part to do with it (amongst others), they seem to have a good understanding of what had to be done and how to go about it.

RedEye
02-17-2010, 11:32 AM
Well there really is only one true school of thought some just think there is more than one because folks are speaking 2 (or sometimes maybe more than 2) different languages. Fortunately the kids in our system have a pretty good understanding for the most part. I happen to think Rick Sweet and Donnie Scott have had some large part to do with it (amongst others), they seem to have a good understanding of what had to be done and how to go about it.

To me, more than one language = more than one school of thought. In the end, language is really all we have to describe our world. Moreover, the stark differences in the way "old school" and "new school" folks describe and analyze what they see have led to significant differences in strategy. I agree that, ultimately, the two viewpoints might be productively merged--but I'm not convinced that's happening everywhere in baseball just yet.

RedEye
02-17-2010, 11:35 AM
But anyway, my only real point here was to suggest that Chris Heisey, in his own way, has appropriated some pretty different strategic perspectives into the way he talks about his game. I meant it as a compliment.

lollipopcurve
02-17-2010, 11:39 AM
But anyway, my only real point here was to suggest that Chris Heisey, in his own way, has appropriated some pretty different strategic perspectives into the way he talks about his game. I meant it as a compliment.

Agree 100%. The ideologies that sometimes rule discussion of plate approach disguise the reality that one "good at bat" may look very different from another.

Mario-Rijo
02-17-2010, 03:31 PM
To me, more than one language = more than one school of thought. In the end, language is really all we have to describe our world. Moreover, the stark differences in the way "old school" and "new school" folks describe and analyze what they see have led to significant differences in strategy. I agree that, ultimately, the two viewpoints might be productively merged--but I'm not convinced that's happening everywhere in baseball just yet.

There's no question people believe that but IMO there really is only one good PA, do the minimum (or better) neccessary depending on the circumstances of that particular PA. I suppose one could argue that a guy could have a good PA and still not doing anything productive, just tip your hat to the pitcher and defense. But generally speaking one should go to the plate looking to find a pitch they can drive with some authority, that's ones best shot at avoiding an out assuming of course they have a pretty good idea of what kind of pitch that is for them. You don't get that pitch then ya don't go swinging at just any old pitch unless the pitcher forces you into a more defensive situation.

There may be some contention between what to do when the pitcher takes most if not all the hitters advantages away. Are their advocates for putting the ball in play vs. advocates for working a walk, perhaps. But I submit that those so called advocates could care less as long as you do something positive or perhaps even moreso don't do something negative. So aren't they all saying the same thing when it gets right down to it, just using different words? If so then there is only one school of thought.

RedEye
02-17-2010, 07:00 PM
There's no question people believe that but IMO there really is only one good PA, do the minimum (or better) neccessary depending on the circumstances of that particular PA. I suppose one could argue that a guy could have a good PA and still not doing anything productive, just tip your hat to the pitcher and defense. But generally speaking one should go to the plate looking to find a pitch they can drive with some authority, that's ones best shot at avoiding an out assuming of course they have a pretty good idea of what kind of pitch that is for them. You don't get that pitch then ya don't go swinging at just any old pitch unless the pitcher forces you into a more defensive situation.

There may be some contention between what to do when the pitcher takes most if not all the hitters advantages away. Are their advocates for putting the ball in play vs. advocates for working a walk, perhaps. But I submit that those so called advocates could care less as long as you do something positive or perhaps even moreso don't do something negative. So aren't they all saying the same thing when it gets right down to it, just using different words? If so then there is only one school of thought.

I suppose it all comes down to what is meant by the word "aggressive." Usually, when I hear that word, I think of the sort of Dusty Baker philosophy which essentially means "take your hacks" and "put the ball in play" rather than "get on base any way you can." I think a more "new school" approach would ask batters to wait for their pitch to drive, but would also put more stock in taking a BB if it presents itself.

Mario-Rijo
02-17-2010, 08:30 PM
I suppose it all comes down to what is meant by the word "aggressive." Usually, when I hear that word, I think of the sort of Dusty Baker philosophy which essentially means "take your hacks" and "put the ball in play" rather than "get on base any way you can." I think a more "new school" approach would ask batters to wait for their pitch to drive, but would also put more stock in taking a BB if it presents itself.

Yeah I get why one might feel that way, and the truth is who really knows there may indeed be guys who feel exactly one way or the other, in fact i'm sure there are but I think much fewer than one might think. And for those who are they are clearly wrong as it takes some of both.


But I wouldn't be so quick to put Dusty in that camp, I know the reputation he has but I'm not sure there hasn't been a misunderstanding there. He prefers you put the ball in play rather than strikeout, there is no doubt he feels this way and most of the time i'd agree, maybe all the time (but this is debatable). But I also think he prefers big guys who aren't the best/fastest baserunners to take their hacks even if it means a K because he feels those types of players can be a bit of a detriment to run scoring (still don't quite understand that thinking). Those 2 things combined might make it seem like Dusty prefers everyone go out hacking (and he might) but I'm not sure that is the case, perhaps just the sluggers. I sure wish I could interview the guy myself because our writers either don't understand or don't care to have a clear idea of how his mind works.

Red Heeler
02-17-2010, 11:59 PM
There may be some contention between what to do when the pitcher takes most if not all the hitters advantages away. Are their advocates for putting the ball in play vs. advocates for working a walk, perhaps. But I submit that those so called advocates could care less as long as you do something positive or perhaps even moreso don't do something negative. So aren't they all saying the same thing when it gets right down to it, just using different words? If so then there is only one school of thought.

I don't think that there is anybody who believes that a batter should work a walk vs. taking a hack at grooved pitch. That's a strawman.

Where the disagreement surfaces is on tough strikes/borderline balls. Some folks assume that a batter can put that ball in play by "shortening up" their swing or just trying a bit harder. Barry Larkin was great at wasting such pitches. Vlad Guerrero hits some of them for home runs. Adam Dunn and Jim Thome don't have such bat on ball skill. There is no point in them swinging at borderline pitches. They will miss or produce very poor contact.

"All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." Babe's advice still rings true. The difference is what a "good one" is to each batter.

Mario-Rijo
02-18-2010, 02:18 AM
I don't think that there is anybody who believes that a batter should work a walk vs. taking a hack at grooved pitch. That's a strawman.

Where the disagreement surfaces is on tough strikes/borderline balls. Some folks assume that a batter can put that ball in play by "shortening up" their swing or just trying a bit harder. Barry Larkin was great at wasting such pitches. Vlad Guerrero hits some of them for home runs. Adam Dunn and Jim Thome don't have such bat on ball skill. There is no point in them swinging at borderline pitches. They will miss or produce very poor contact.

"All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." Babe's advice still rings true. The difference is what a "good one" is to each batter.

I'm not sure we disagree on anything here. As I said in the post you quoted (previous paragraph) "that's ones best shot at avoiding an out assuming of course they have a pretty good idea of what kind of pitch that is for them". Some guys cannot do it with regularity but as I also made reference to the circumstances being a part of the equation. Still I don't think there is more than one school of thought generally speaking but when getting into specifics you may have one guy do something slightly different in the exact same scenarios.