Evan Longoria is a great baseball player. He can and will be counted on as a mainstay in the Rays lineup for years to come. Nevertheless, in the month of July, he was pretty bad. He posted a meager 74 wRC+, compared to his season 132 wRC+ or career 135 wRC+. What was going on?
Here, using Jeff Zimmerman's swing/take tool at Baseball Heat Maps, is a graph of how likely he was to swing at a pitch in July, compared to how likely he was to swing at it this season as a whole. A hot color means he swung at it more often in July, a cool color means he swung at it less often. These are from the catcher's perspective.
Against left handed pitchers:
Against right handed pitchers:
Honestly, I don't see a lot here. Against lefties, he swung at a few more pitches down and down/away, as well as a few more pitches up and in the outside half of the plate, while taking a few more on the inside edge. Against righties he swung at more pitches in the zone overall. That seems like a good approach. Let's break it down by type of pitch.
Fastballs from left handed pitchers:
Fastballs from right handed pitchers:
Well, other than offering at tough fastballs on the outside bottom corner from lefties a bit more, there's nothing even close to wrong here (and almost nothing different).
Changeups and splitters from left handed pitchers:
Changeups and splitters from right handed pitchers:
No change whatsoever against lefties, but he took more changeups than usual over the plate and inside from righties. Take this with a grain of salt, though. Very few pitchers not on the Rays actually throw inside changeups to same-handed hitters, so the sample size we're dealing with is very small (even though Zimmerman's regression helps).
Curves and sliders from left handed pitchers:
Curves and sliders from right handed pitchers:
Ding ding ding. There it is. Or at least as much as there really is anything to see in any of this. During his bad month, Longoria swung at more breaking balls over the plate.
So to round up what he did differently in July:
- Swing at more fastballs from lefties on the bottom outside corner.
- Take more changeups from righties on the inner third.
- Swing at more breaking balls from all pitchers over the heart of the plate.