Thread: Blue Jays Discussion: Offseason Madness the 7th: Jose Reyes edition
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11-24-2012, 09:38 PM
The Nemesis
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Originally Posted by TOGuy14 View Post
Murphy seems to do generally fantastic work with the power guys, but is terrible with the contact hitters.
I'm not sure it's quite that straightforward. Buck's career high HR (with the Jays) is only 20. Which is good in terms of power out of a catcher, but isn't quite to the standard at which we would start calling a guy a power hitter in general.

It's more like Murphy's approach is a double-edged sword that hinges on plate discipline and strike zone awareness. If you're good at reading the zone and laying off bad pitches, it gives you an opportunity to crush the ball when the opportunity arises. So if you're a guy like Encarnacion or Bautista, both of whom are very good at not chasing, taking a walk when offered, and not striking out, it turns you into a mistake-pitch hammering monster. Unfortunately the flip side is that if you're a hacker like Arencibia, it only makes the issue worse as you keep fishing for crush-able pitches and come up empty.

As for Buck, when I'm looking more at his numbers, it paints a kind of interesting picture. He was more of a hacker in his Blue Jays year than he was the rest of his career. He took far fewer walks than any other year, had a strikeout rate that was higher than his average, and generally swung at more pitches than he usually does while his contact #s were comfortably in the middle of his career range. but he put up a BA/OBP/OPS set that was career highs across the board by a fairly significant margin. And this was tied to a significantly outlying BABIP as well (30 points better than his next best season and 60 higher than his career average)

I don't doubt that the Murphy Grip-it-and-rip-it approach was responsible for his power spike and corresponding swing rate increases, but chances are that his contact #s and overall success in 2010 were a fluke season and that even back in the Blue Jays fold we probably won't see that John Buck again.

So did I just argue myself out of my own initial point (that Murphy made Buck better)? Kinda, . but the evidence still points to what I wanted originally to say about Murphy: that his approach leads to increased success mostly if you have the plate discipline and zone awareness to go along with HR power. If you do, it turns you into a better power hitter without much sacrifice on the rest of your numbers. If you don't, it turns you into a free swinging K machine (FWIW, John Buck led the 2010 Jays in K% from anyone with 100 plate appearances or more) whose increased power numbers may not always offset the fact that you don't provide a whole lot else if you're not hitting it out of the park.

and, like you said, it tends to work against contact hitters too. Brett Lawrie isn't necessarily just a contact hitter. He has solid power for a 3B. But he also needs to be reigned in so that he can get good pitches to hit. You look at his admittedly small-sample-size 2011 #s vs 2012, and the most glaring thing was that he was a lot more of a free swinger. He chased a lot more pitches out of the zone and paid for it.


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