Q. Smoak has an OPS up 'round 1.000 in September and he has the 5:7 EYE, the improved StrSw% rates, and every other number to back it up. But what does the scouting eye say?
A. :: blinks :: He suddenly realizes that he hadn't watched a Smoak at-bat since the callup ...
Ran off to eyeball Mr. E=M2Cliff Lee on the DVR. Whaaaaaaa? Differn't player here. And when did he start keeping the top hand on the bat, by the way? Did he hit the long homers with that swing? ... sho' nuff ...
Q. Well, so is it the swing or what?
A. The swing isn't really the difference. Well, it's a root cause of the difference, or a parallel cause of the difference at best ...
Wow, Smoak is letting the pitches drive realllly deep on him. He's looking almost John Olerud'ish up there. The pitcher lets the ball go, Smoak sort of tilts his head in a little, takes a good loooooonnnnnnng look, and then unleases a sudden, powerful swing starting from a long bat wrap.
Q. So that would take the ball the other way?
A. Surprisingly, he's letting the ball get much deeper and ... pulling it better, with more authority. Here is his wimpy August spray chart and here is his authoritative September spray chart. Notice too that his groundouts are higher in September as he gets on top of the ball better. Check it out as he smashes the top half of a high Sheppers 94 fastball for a home run.
He's letting the ball come to him and then he is attacking it. It's simply the difference between Rocky doing rope-a-dope, taking a beating, vs. his getting mad grrrrrrr and swinging back. Smoak's longer HR's etc are simply his swinging with bad intentions.
Some things we say represent our personal opinion. That isn't one of them. Read between the lines on Wedge's comments and you'll get the same thing, as far as "doing something with it" when he lets the bat go.
Smoak's doing that now.
Q. So he's ready to hit .358 / .414 / .547 now?
A. Naaaahhhhh... the funny thing is, when a slider or change or curve comes in there on him, he can't see it.
Q. Um, what.
A. He hacks at bendy pitches and misses them by embarrassing margins. We wondered about it and thought.... hm, okay, he's got his thoughts organized. He's not confused now. He has an idea up there. He knows what he wants and he's going after it.
So why the ugly results on offspeed (in this particular game Sunday)? Well..... that's what would happen if your pitch recognition were behind. So we sauntered over to TexasLeaguers.com expecting to find that his swings and misses on fastballs were all real good, and that all of his swings and misses were on curves.
That is the case.
It's the case to a radical degree. In September, he's seen 128 fastballs, swung at 65 of them, and missed the ball a grand total of 6 times. Amazing. In contradistinction, he misses 17% of all changeups thrown and 11% of all sliders. He hasn't put a slider in play in September. 0.0%. On the other hand, he puts 35% of all fastballs thrown into play.
It's just pitch recognition.
Q. Leaving him where?
A. Well, so if this interpretation be true ... Hang on one sec couldja.