Mailbag: Batting Coach vs. Offensive Philosophy, 2022 shortstop, playoff format
Hello and good Friday everyone. The last four MLB teams are set with the Dodgers-Giants NLDS game ending last night. We’re down to the Red Sox, the Astros, the Dodgers and the Braves. Uh, go to the National League, I guess?
What a disappointing end to a rather exciting game last night, by the way. I hate to see a game end on a check-swing judgment call (and bad judgment, too), but it is. Max Scherzer will likely finish off Wilmer Flores on the next pitch anyway, but who knows? Still, I would be apoplectic if I were a Giants fan.
Now, to today’s post: your mailbag questions. As a reminder, send your questions to viewsof314 [at] Gmail [dot] com. We will choose our favorites for the next edition. Here’s what we have this week:
Bob asks: Will changing the batting coach make a difference if the team’s philosophy doesn’t change?
But the philosophy is changing. At least I think so. Of course, I guess by team philosophy Bob means an emphasis on high OBP hitters with power while tolerating strikeouts. Some signs of changes in the works:
- Acquisition of Anthony Rizzo (left, low-strike bat) mid-season while looking to trade Luke Voit (often injured, but led the HR team a year ago).
- There have been rumors of Joey Gallo trading before.
- A few of the free agent shortstops (discussed in the next question) are high contact guys.
- This response from former batting coach Marcus Thames on Sweeny Murti’s podcast:
Murti: Is there a gap in the philosophy in the approach to typing, is it on the information that is delivered on a daily basis and how it is used, how is it broken down?
Thames: I don’t think the information – I think we had a very, very good connection with our analysts and through the players… I think [there’s] drills that some guys maybe do in the minor leagues that we weren’t quite doing at the major league level.
Now, at the same time, letting Thames and PJ Pilittere go is not just a question of team philosophy. I think it’s pretty clear that they want to line up some things between minors and majors, based on the quote from Thames. I guess that makes sense from our point of view given the number of offensive breakouts we’ve seen in minors this year, especially juxtaposed against the Yankees offense. However, I also think a lot of Thames and Pilittere’s passing has absolutely nothing to do with the team’s multitude of three real hitters. It also has to do with some of the performances of the team’s more contact-oriented hitters, like DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres.
In fairness to Thames and Pilittere, the regression of players like LeMahieu and Torres is not entirely the fault of the coaching staff. A lot of that is on them too. At the same time, it’s hard to see LeMahieu grow into a league average hitter and Torres fall out of favor over the past two seasons. At some point, something has to change if the status quo doesn’t work. LeMahieu is here for five more seasons and Torres, barring a trade, is also under team control.
Daniel asks: What are the most likely results for the shortstop in ’22 (Star FA / Low tier FA / Internal)?
I really have no idea what the Yankees are going to do here, but they sure can’t stand it. The Yankees should spend big on one of the star free agents, but will they? I can’t say I’m confident. The Yankees haven’t been big free agency players for some time now, with Gerrit Cole being the exception. Perhaps this winter’s free agent class will lead to another exception, because like Cole’s case, the Yankees are in dire need of a shortstop like they needed a front row starter this winter. -the.
Here are the levels Daniel requested:
- Stars: Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien
- Next level: Javier Baez, Chris Taylor
- Lower level: José Iglesias, Freddy Galvis, Andrelton Simmons
- Internal: uh, Gio Urshela?
If I haven’t made it clear in recent posts or on Twitter, I want Correa. But since the question is looking for the most likely outcomes, I’ll say Seager is the most likely signatory for the next level. He’s not the best defensive shortstop out there, that’s for sure, but he’s the southpaw and I have a feeling that might sway things. He is also the second youngest free agent in the shortstop (Correa is the youngest).
The pessimistic side of me says the Yankees will do the second best while they wait for Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza to progress. There is nothing wrong with both of these perspectives, but ugh, more good players please. Positioning can be reshuffled a year later when they’re ready – no need to hold the fort temporarily. Either way, the Yankees have been linked to Simmons a lot over the years, which makes him feel like a distinct possibility (please, no he’s terrible).
Josh asks: I don’t care about the one-game Wild Card because it’s great entertainment and allows one more team to advance to the playoffs, but I can’t stand the five games of the Division Series. There are so many ups and downs with baseball, don’t you think a 7-game series makes more sense for the DS?
Yes, absolutely with regard to the Division Series. I don’t really agree with Josh on the Wild Card game, but at least it gives the incentive to win the division.
Aside from a personal desire to have more baseball to watch in the playoffs, a longer first round makes more sense given how the MLB structures its season and the volatility of individual game results. It’s not like the NBA playoffs, where I would argue that every series doesn’t have to be a seven-game format (although that can create a lot of drama!). Usually the cream rises to the top in the NBA playoffs. That doesn’t always happen in the MLB playoffs, even in seven game series. But at least a player of seven is more likely to reward the best team than five games.
I bet the Rays and Brewers wish they had a few more games available to them. They might not have beaten Boston or Atlanta anyway, but they’ve had much better regular seasons than their opponents in the Division Series. Seeing a great 162-game regular season crumble into a short streak is painful, although there is a strong argument that these losing clubs (namely the Rays) weren’t well structured for the playoff format. .
Plus, who else would have wished there was a Game 6 and / or Game 7 between the Dodgers and the Giants? I feel like we’ve been bypassed on what will be remembered as the best series of this playoffs (and not just because of that horrible control call to end the series).
Besides just having more games to watch, a longer streak should reward the better team more often. Isn’t that the goal of the MLB playoffs? To reward the best team? As long as there are no trophies awarded to the best teams in the regular season and the playoffs are treated like the End All Be All, then we should have a 7-7-7 format.