Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Colby Be Hackin'

Following last night's victory over the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, I enjoyed the honourable distinction of being Mike Wilner's first caller on the Blue Jays Talk.

I asked Mike if he thought John Farrell or hitting coach Dwayne Murphy might be reluctant to approach Colby Rasmus about perhaps adjusting his hitting philosophy with respect to hacking at the first pitch. Wilner assured me that neither Farrell nor Murph would have any hesitation in addressing such an issue with Rasmus, but also insisted that such a discussion is not necessary at the moment.

I don't necessarily disagree. In fact, being notorious for offering at the first pitch myself, it'd be supremely hypocritical of me to chastise someone else for doing it. And of course, the differences between the MLB and the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association are negligible.

That said, Rasmus has swung at the first offering in 49% (19/39) of his plate appearances so far this season. When he has managed to put the ball in play on the first pitch, he's 0-for-8. While he does, for the most part, swing predominantly at strikes -- 16/19 first pitches he's hacked at have been in the strike zone, according to Pitch F/X -- he's also demonstrated a tendency to swing a tad indiscriminately, not taking into account the kind of pitch being thrown; 7/19 first-pitch swings have been at breaking balls or off-speed pitches.

Here are the Pitch F/X charts for your analytical pleasure.

Now, his relatively minute .200 BABIP suggests that he's been extremely unlucky at the dish thus far, and his propensity for hitting the ball the other way, especially with power, is very encouraging, so make whatever inferences you want*.

*I'll be at the game tonight; if Rasmus does anything remotely positive on a first pitch, I rescind your right to make negative inferences.


  1. Neat post. My blog is also named Bort.


  3. I don't swing at the first pitch very often, and sometimes they're so juicy I'm left with the following sentiment: "swing the bat, puss."

    Seriously though, I've always wondered why people say that a low BABIP alone is a sign of "bad luck".. I think it's quite intuitive to think that if the balls you're hitting aren't finding grass then you're not hitting the ball very hard or on a line. For me, it's an indication of not making good, hard, line-drive contact. However for Rasmus I'll agree that in the first 2 weeks he has lined out more than most. I guess for him, it's both a matter of a little bad luck and overall poor contact. GET BETTER GODDAMMIT

  4. "Swing the bat, puss" is a maxim to live by.

    Also, I didn't say a low BABIP necessarily means he's been unlucky; it suggests he's been unlucky. But when considering his line-drive rate this year is a whopping 29% (10.2% higher than his career clip), you have to think he's drawn the ire of the baseball gods at least a little. Or Tony La Russa.