Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Saddest Cowboy

Aaron Hill is struggling. Badly. I thought I'd help him with this handy dandy map to the plate, pointing out the best route as he looks so damn lost up there, he likely needs the heads up.

Walk up the steps bro, and stand by the white dot. Grab something heavier than your normal bat and swing it a bunch of times. Focus or relax or eat or love or pray or whatever the hell you need to do, then do it.

After the guy ahead of you makes an out, hits a home run, or walks (lulz!), walk up to the plate. Let the glorious strains of Foghat wash over you, make it a slow ride as your saunter up to take your turn. Maybe change it up, seek out a deeper cut from the Dazed and Confused soundtrack. You really — seriously — cannot go wrong with Black Sabbath. At any time of the day or your life.

To say Aaron Hill looks lost at the plate is an understatement. Dude looks completely out of sorts and that helpless feeling manifests itself in the saddest panda on the Blue Jays. Moping to the plate (and quickly back to the dugout) after doing his very best to work in concert with the pitcher's plan to retire him. Swinging at pitches out of the zone (which he sees more than ever) and making contact with balls thrown off the plate (again, at a career high.)

I don't know what I'm advocating as a plan to get Hill back on track. Just like great years, shitty years happen. Hill's BABIP is criminally low and, as a huge driver of his offensive performance, a little luck is due to come his way. Moving him down in the order seems the likely move but to what end?

Maybe give him a few days off here and there. I can't pretend to know what will snap his funk. Hill certainly seems like (based on reputation and limited video evidence) a good dude and a key part of this team in the future. I'm a lot more worried about his rebound than Adam Lind, as I believe Adam Lind is a far better hitter caught in a transitional year in his career (marriage, new contract and the associated expectations1.) I just know that Aaron Hill is a fun player to watch, just not when he clearly isn't having any fun at all.

Travis Snider, Fred Lewis, and Confirmation Bias

During last night's gong show, Travis Snider legged out 1.5 infield hits. One was clearly an error on the pitcher (whom Snider trucked as gingerly as a refrigerator shaped man can) and another that found a hole. Travis Snider, it would seem, is pretty fast.

When a professional pundit makes an assertion that is nearly impossible to prove, he is likely to hear about it. Especially from those with an ax to grind against him. So Mike Wilner's personal belief — that Travis Snider is a faster runner than Fred Lewis — met with some resistance.

Fred Lewis has more stolen bases and a higher speed score (a counting stat, it should be noted. Lewis has more than double the plate appearances of Snider.) Also, Fred Lewis is a lean, athletic black guy while Travis Snider is a thick white dude who played fullback in high school.

It's a lot easier to assume Fred Lewis is faster because he looks like a fast runner. Travis Snider does not. That's more than enough reason to deride Wilner for making a seemingly questionable yet perfectly valid point.

I guess my question is: why is it so batshit crazy to suggest Travis Snider is a faster runner than Fred Lewis? Because of what you see on TV or because of what your brain conditions2 you to assume?

1 - Hahah, there's no context to a player's performance. DRUGS!

2 - By no fault of your brain; that's just what brains do.


  1. Drew, I'm definitely much more worried about Hill than I am Lind. Adam is taking cuts at balls in the dirt, but at least his OPS is above .700.

    Whatever's wrong with Hill, I think he needs to go back to the drawing board and get it all straightened out in the offseason.

  2. It's pretty easy to see how fast a guy is, just look at his time to first on an infield hit and his time to second on a straight steal. The hard part is finding the video I guess.

  3. oh and all else being equal, a smaller stubbier guy will usually look faster when moving than a long legged guy (short legs need to move faster to go the same speed).

  4. "That's just what brains do."

    Thanks for this...I now have a standing excuse for every time I'm totally wrong-headed about something because I want it to be true or think it should be.

    My brain thinks that Lyle Overbay is going to be regarded as the greatest Blue Jay since Scott Rolen.

  5. Oh...forgot my more salient point.

    Hill's swing, which used to be regarded as a nice, quick Molitor-esque stroke seems to have degenerated this year. There seems to be a lot of shifting and twisting and hand movement, which means he's expending energy on stuff other than hitting the ball.

    This might account for why his line drive rate has fallen in half.


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