Glad I had the game on all night tonight, he looked like his old self for at least one night
2009 Attendance Record: 3-5 2010 Attendance Record: 2-9
2011 Attendance Record: 3-4 2012 Attendance Record: 3-4
2013 Attendance Record: 5-2 2014 Attendance Record: 3-1
The Beaumont Bomber is back.
"I think he is just coming around," said Price. "He is hitting a lot with nobody on base so they attack him with fastballs and breaking pitches, in and out, and up and down. We've seen him smoke some balls the other way and he got a pitch to pull (Tuesday in Cleveland) and he hit it for pull homer.
"I'm just hoping he is able to release that sense of feeling it is late in the season and his usual numbers are not reachable and he is so down that he thinks he can't pull himself back up. He is showing that he can pull himself up and he knows he doesn't have to carry our ball club. He just needs to be a piece of it."
"Everyone knows this game is hard," said Bruce. "It is not the first time I struggled. There are two months left and I look forward to building on the recent successes I've had. There is no time to get down because it just takes energy away from what you are trying to do. You can reflect on the past, but you can't live in it. We all have a goal here and it is not individual goals. It is a team goal. And like we all do, I take a professional pride in what we do."
"I honestly always try to stay in the big part of the field," Bruce said. "Left center to right center. I think it has something to do with pitches I'm getting and executing the approach better. It's not a change in approach. I think it's trusting that I have more time up there and taking what they give me."
Some of hitting is always luck. One of Bruce's hits was a ground ball to where the shortstop would ordinarily be.
"My goal is not to hit a ground ball to shortstop," Bruce said. "That's not what I'm trying to do. It's taking what they give you and executing the approach I work on every single day a little bit better."
- Vision: the ability to judge pitch speed & location (e.g. movement)
- Approach: how the player is attempting to hit the ball (how hard, to what field, etc.)
- Technique: the physical realities of the player's hand/eye coordination and swing mechanics
- Discipline: the willingness to swing/not swing at pitches given their perceived speed & location in consideration of the circumstance
It's impossible to simply look at the outcome data and suss out the why of walks and strikeouts, hits and homers. There are a lot of variables in play and we often over-simplify.
Nobody gets angry at Billy Hamilton for not selling out for power. And I think that's because, with power production, we know intuitively players simply have certain limits on what they can do with their body and the talents they've been given and developed. But for some reason, we don't think the same way when we look at contact and aggressiveness. I often go back to Adam Dunn to illustrate this. Adam Dunn didn't swing more because Adam Dunn has a below replacement ability to put the bat on the baseball. Luckily, he had a very good ability to judge pitches, and so was able to minimize the amount of time he swung at pitches he had no chance of hitting well. But even when he got a great pitch to hit, contact wasn't a given. So Dunn developed a discipline and approach that maximized his strengths and minimized his weaknesses. But it's easy to look as the simple case of extreme players like Dunn or Hamilton.
It gets harder for most hitters. If a guy chases a ton of low & away breaking pitches, there could be different explanations. Maybe he simply cannot distinguish a good slider from the low fastballs he crushes. Maybe he just insists that he can hit it. Maybe he gets himself behind in the count and thus has to protect the edge of the plate more often. I think we tend to assume that it's always a choice problem; it's an issue of approach or discipline -- and thus something the player could fix if only he cared to. But I would not be surprised to find out that most of what frustrates us when players fail is a failure of physical ability. They simple cannot see the pitch well, judge it quickly enough. Over the course of their career, players are constantly tweaking their approach to optimize to the variables that are much more fixed. Occasionally a player will have a breakthrough change that jumps them up a level. But usually players are who they are not because they're too stubborn to change but because they simple have the tools they have.
Every time I watch Bruce swing over and ahead of that low breaking pitch or watch Phillips chase another slider outside, I need to remind myself that they're probably doing the best they can with what they've got. It's most likely not an issue of smarts, but of skills. And for some reason, it simply feels easier to accept that.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.
Rick makes a great point about not getting too upset with a guy for chasing bad pitches...I think it's true...some guys just aren't able to judge breaking balls for what they are. Don't get upset with the batter in that case.
Now, that does go along with my constant point about advanced metrics. If a batter has or develops a single flaw, it will be discovered and used to crush them.
If Jay Bruce's new approach has hurt him so much, why didn't it hurt him in June? Except for a a little power, it didn't really hurt him in April either.
I think people are way over thinking this. Maybe it has a little to do with approach. Maybe he had some personal issues to deal with, like a death in the family. Maybe he's recovering from an injury and isn't back to full strength. maybe it's all these things plus Votto and BP being out for extended periods leaving him with less protection in the lineup.
I'm hoping the Reds finish this season over .500, because I like how next season is shaping up for them. Healthy and hungry, with huge steps forward in 2014 from CF, 3B and C.
Raisel Ghul, the Demon's Head