Travis Snider is a good hitter. His compulsive destruction of minor league pitching and jet-propelled path to the big leagues is ample proof. Travis Snider is really struggling to start the 2010. There are signs of Snider heading out of this slump; obviously if you read the box scores you see the moonshot he hit to right field Monday night against the Royals. Less obvious but equally important was the murderous line drive he screamed to right field in the ninth inning of that same game. Snider hit that liner with intentions so bad you wouldn't just hang laundry on it; you'd hang the drying flesh and bones of your many victims for use in a tough-but-tangy jerky.
Despite showing a few positive signs of late, Travis Snider sports some pretty ugly batting lines. Blame his criminally low BABIP if you will (or my evocation of that number in April! .312 xBABIP!) but he isn't "commanding the strike zone" as one would expect. How come? What's the deal? I may not have the answer but I endeavor to find out.
Before we get into the nitty gritty nerditry, we should look at the positives of Snider's start. He sees lots of pitches and even walks at a decent clip. His batted ball profile isn't too far out of wack, save a couple infield pop ups. The biggest shock for young Travis (or any of Clarence's disciples) is Snider's inability to handle the fastball.
My first assumption is Snider is overguessing or at least anticipating the fastball to a fault. I thought I'd look at the first pitches of his at bats this season, to see if he's digging himself into holes.
For your reference: this diagram is from the catcher's perspective. Snider — as a left-handed batter — stands screen right. I gave the strike zone rounded corners and extended the outside part of the plate to reflect the real strike zone lefties face.
Why not follow a strange collection of colors and shapes with a giant data dump?? Okay!
- 33 of his 57 PAs start with fastballs. 15 for strikes. 1 whiff on a CJ Wilson 2 seamer, 1 missed bunt. 4 fastballs fouled off. 1 single on a first pitch fastball.
- The remaining 24 offspeed pitches largely miss the zone (only 10 strikes.) 4 whiffs - all on change ups. Not one ball put into play.
- Of the 33 fastballs first pitch fastballs thrown, 25 followed up with another fastball of some kind.
- 15 times pitchers went soft-soft against Snider.
- Counts! 2-0 counts = 15 (one home run, one double, six walks [two intentional]), 3-1 counts = 9 (one home run and 4 walks), 0-2 counts = 11 (7 Ks, 1 hit)
Snider obviously sees a lot of pitches, that's what Three True Outcome guys do. It's hard to strike out without seeing at least 3 pitches. It's hard to say whether he's on his way out of a slump, he's so strong home runs aren't the best heat checks. One thing I haven't seen from Snider this year is the vaunted power the other way. That's always the thing I come back to when I need convincing of Travis Snider's eventual greatness.
Hopefully Snider will keep hitting the ball hard and resume hitting the ball to all fields. The word is clearly out on him - teams know his strength and respect his eye. I turn to you, my fellow basement dwelling molemen, for your opinion on Travis Snider during the young 2010 season. Encouraging signs? Frustrations? Holes in his game? It's too early to tell but I'd be interested to hear the direction others think he'll take.
Credit to Joe Leftowitz, Brooks Baseball, and Reuters via Daylife.