Archive for the ‘My Approach’ Category

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers - Game 4

Regular readers of Getting Blanked’s “My Approach” series are acutely aware of an unsurprising trend: nearly all big league hitters think Miguel Cabrera has the best approach in baseball. He’s the baseball version of Kobe Bryant: your favorite player’s favorite player.

As the accolades rolled in, it became abundantly clear the My Approach series required a Miguel Cabrera instalment. Not that he doesn’t deserve an entry without the praise of his peers, but the overwhelming reaction demanded contact with Cabrera.

His resume speaks for itself: Miguel Cabrera is a fast-tracking Hall of Fame hitter who earned a World Series ring at 20, has four Silver Sluggers to his name and claimed the first Triple Crown in 45 years.

He’s in the middle of one of the best offensive peaks in baseball, with his age 27-30 seasons ranking among the greatest of all time.

1 Babe Ruth 201 2300 1922 1925 513 637 120 30 147 417 455 322 30 43 .351 .483 .693 1.176
2 Ted Williams 199 2732 1946 1949 598 739 160 23 138 523 606 180 5 2 .349 .496 .642 1.138
3 Barry Bonds 191 2395 1992 1995 555 599 122 17 150 411 447 115 274 128 39 .314 .444 .631 1.075
4 Ty Cobb 191 2423 1914 1917 551 761 128 58 16 326 314 138 254 79 .373 .462 .517 .979
5 Lou Gehrig 189 2836 1930 1933 617 837 156 53 153 648 418 199 42 50 .350 .448 .652 1.101
6 Rogers Hornsby 186 2339 1923 1926 522 760 150 39 92 413 288 139 16 22 .382 .462 .635 1.096
7 Stan Musial 181 2743 1948 1951 610 834 158 50 135 471 371 148 19 5 .354 .444 .635 1.079
8 Nap Lajoie 179 1775 1902 1905 417 590 137 33 21 301 87 60 81 .360 .399 .522 .921
9 Miguel Cabrera 178 2436 2010 2013 559 707 153 2 140 460 318 83 343 12 5 .339 .426 .616 1.042
10 Mickey Mantle 178 2431 1959 1962 573 583 71 17 155 386 452 30 441 56 7 .298 .428 .589 1.016
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/9/2013.

Everyone knows how good a hitter Miguel Cabrera has become. He hit a very high level as a 21-year old playing every day and has not looked back.

Getting Blanked discussed his preparation, his ability to make contact and using all fields in a very special edition of My Approach.

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Philadelphia Phillies v Colorado Rockies

Hitting in Colorado is no good for a player’s perception. Some fans feel Colorado is such a hitter’s paradise that any big leaguer worth his salt must put up huge, crooked numbers there. Doesn’t matter the talent of the player, the thin air does all the work.

As such, players like Matt Holliday are unfairly maligned as home park mirages…right up until the moment that they move into more hitter-neutral environments and resume putting up the same numbers as they did in the Mile High City.

Carlos Gonzalez was once traded for Matt Holliday, and now occupies the same space in the minds of many fans – CarGo is good but he’s only “Coors Field good”. Take him away and the strikeouts would climb as the other offensive numbers suffers, seems to be the knock. It isn’t fair to penalize Gonzalez for his home park, though it absolutely influences his performance at the plate.

More than just thin air is working in the Rockies outfielder’s favor in 2013 – he’s off to the best start of his career, leading the National League in home runs with 21 while walking at a career high rate. Getting Blanked spoke with Gonzalez about learning from the best, getting better with age and managing mom’s expectations.

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Minnesota Twins v Atlanta Braves

Evan Gattis is more than just a baseball player. Right now, he is a terrific story of redemption and perseverance masquerading as a baseball player, an enormous man nicknamed El Oso Blanco – the White Bear – during a winter league stint in Venezuela.

The hulking frame, the cool nickname, everything down to the lack of batting gloves and wristbands, Evan Gattis is a hacky screenwriters dream, even more-so now that he is playing baseball at an uncommonly high level.

If Evan Gattis continues playing baseball as he’s played for the first two plus months of his big league career, he’ll no longer be a story first and a baseball player second. But for now, he is the subject of feature-length profiles everywhere he goes. His rich backstory is prime for the profiling (here are two such profiles, by Erika Gilbert of the National Post and Emma Span for Sports On Earth) but his numbers are beginning to eclipse the story of the troubled/wandering soul who made his way back to baseball after years away from the game.

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San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies

When I first considered speaking with Pablo Sandoval about his approach, it was somewhat tongue in cheek. Interview the Panda and Hunter Pence, have a few laughs. When I spoke with Giants PR about the idea, their PR rep said “I don’t even think Pablo has an approach.” With love, of course.

But how much depth could I get into with the man known as the Kung Fu Panda? Pablo Sandoval hits. That’s it. That’s the whole story.

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Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants

It is tough to establish new ground when discussing Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young award winner has been analyzed, dissected, and scrutinized to within an inch of his life over the past three years. What is wrong with Tim Lincecum? What will become of Tim Lincecum?

While he isn’t the pitcher he was in years past, he is still a very good and very exciting starter. Only four other qualified starters manage his strikeout, ground ball, and swinging strike rates this season. Each pitcher on that list can play for me any time.

Despite his unorthodox mechanics, Tim Lincecum was a very conventional pitcher when it came to his plan of attack. He blew hitters away with his mid-90s fastball and sat them down with his swing-and-miss changeup (which looks an awful lot like a splitter but ISN’T). As he ages, Lincecum keeps learning what it takes to make it work and how to adopt to his changing body and arsenal of pitches.

It’s a slightly different edition of My Approach with San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum.

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Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

The latest edition of My Approach gets into the head of one of the most patient and prolific sluggers in the game, Jose Bautista.

As he did last season, Jose is off to a bit of a slow start in 2013. While he isn’t putting up the batting average he’d like, Jose remains a very productive hitter, still walking at an elite rate and hitting for power like very few batters can. His walk rate is fifth-best in the American League and his seven home runs place him among the league leaders.

During the Jays most recent home stand, Jose spoke to Getting Blanked about many aspects of preparation and research, where Bautista quotes numbers and describes, in as many words, the game theory of hitting in the big leagues. Plus a whole lot on his preparation against his nemesis, CC Sabathia.

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Oakland Athletics v Boston Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia has been one of the better players in baseball over the last five seasons. Since the start of the 2008 season, Dustin Pedroia is in the top ten for position player fWAR, posting a .304/.373/.467 line with 80 home runs over that time. His .366 wOBA trails just Robinson Cano and Chase Utley among qualified second baseman.

I don’t know if the word “pure hitter” applies to Pedroia but it seems apt to me: he doesn’t strike out very much and he makes excellent use of his home ballpark, crashing doubles into the Green Monster like few Red Sox before him.

Dustin Pedroia is the subject of the latest edition of My Approach, discussing his “make something from nothing” two strike approach, using a high tee and making the most of his less-than-strapping frame.

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