Friday, April 23, 2004

The LA Times looks at Vlad's ultra-aggressive style and his early-season struggles. Scioscia says he's just pressing, Vlad says sometimes he just starts slowly.

I suspect they're both kind of right. Vlad has, on occasion, shown the ability to work counts, get a good pitch, and in lack thereof, draw a walk. But more often he swings from his heels trying to knock in 45 runs with one swing. His track record says that we should leave him alone, and I'm all for that. His 262/324/508 line is not the end of the world; he has a decent walk rate and a good walk-to-strikeout ratio; his isolated power is right around his career norms. Once he adds his typical 50 or so points of batting average, this hand-wringing will seem silly.

The same article goes on to speak of the non-walking ways of David Eckstein. This is a more alarming problem. Yes, it's early, but his line is a gross 258/300/288, and he has drawn one walk in sixteen games. Eck says that this is because pitchers are coming right after him, not because he's not being selective. His pitches per plate appearance is 3.71, typical for him.

Eckstein's solution will be to be a bit more aggressive early in the count, and not always allow an easy first strike for the hurler. But even if this works, if he keeps hitting .258 with no power whatsoever, there will be no incentive for opposing pitchers to go try to get him out of the zone. Even if he can hurt you with singles, that's something. But if he can't do that, he'll end up a sinkhole at the top of the order.

And between him and The Punter, Vlad is really going to try too hard, what with trying to hit three-run homers with no one on base.

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