7:10 PM ET | WPIX11
"Show me a guy who can't pitch inside and I'll show you a loser." - Sandy Koufax
#45 / Pitcher / San Diego Padres
Nov 01, 1987
|2012 - Anthony Bass||2-4||2.89||1.15||51||18|
Scouting Report: Loves to come inside and does so well...throws a fastball, slider, cutter, changeup...loves the slider and will throw it with equal frequency against both lefty and righty batters...not actually a fish...
|2012 - Dillon Gee||3-3||5.44||1.43||43||13|
7.79 K/9, 2.36 BB/9, 56.5% GB...hey those looks like the stats of a good pitcher! What gives? Dillon's been unlucky with his left on base numbers, and his BABIP and HR/FB are pretty high too. All of those numbers could regress, so why not start today? Just tell the outfielders to guard the tops of the fences.
Considering today's pitcher, this is as good as any place to plant this little rant. Daniel Murphy frustrates me more than any batter, even Ike Davis. At least with Ike, I know that he's just broken -- mechanically, timing, etc. But when Ike gets it together, he has the ability to be a great hitter. Daniel Murphy is hitting with the power of Juan Pierre and I'm worried that it's permanent, because he has the plate approach of Juan Pierre.
I chronicled a change Murph made in 2009, after the narrative that he couldn't hit inside fastballs spiralled out of control. In hindsight, the problem probably required a minor adjustment. But because of how Murphy hit during his 2008 call-up, unreasonable expectations magnified any perceived shortcomings, and Murphy went about radically changing his approach to fix one weakness. He began to swing at everything -- including pitches 2 feet off the plate. As a result, his contact went up, but he stopped walking, which was bad. But because he saw a short term boost in batting average, the "fix" became a permanent part of his approach.
So far this season, Murphy's continues to swing at everything (his O-swing% is up a tick) but his walks haven't taken an according dive. In fact, they're up a little bit! The best of both worlds, right?
Let's depart from the stats, here, though and consider two practical consequences of Murphy's approach. For one thing, every year his batting stance gets more upright and his swings softer. There's the strike zone most hitters are expected to cover, and then there's the strikezone Daniel Muphy covers and in order to do it, he just pokes more than swings at half these pitches. No one ever hit a homerun poking.
Secondly, Murphy's circumventing the pitcher-hitter game entirely. Instead of the hitter waiting for his pitch, waiting the pitcher's mistake, Murphy will offer at anything. So, he's making less contact with pitches right down the middle, not because he forgot how to swing at those pitches, but because he doesn't even get to see them anymore.
Is this hopeless? No, he could hit .320 again this year, and everything would be fine. It's just frustrating to know that he's got power and not putting himself in a position to use it. Maybe he's been snakebitten, too. But a lot of fans are counting on Murphy to be a 10-15 HR player at 2B and I just worry those days are gone.
I bring it up now because he made that adjustment to hit inside fastballs, and here's a pitcher that's going to pitch him inside. Let's see if he has a big game today, and maybe the adjustment was worth it.