Let's jump right in to the one must-read for today. The Rays seem to have adopted a super-aggressive approach at the plate, and currently rank as the most swing-happy team in baseball. Over at The Process Report, Jason Hanselman took a hard look into what that means, and the results are pretty clear: it's too much.
Right now, the Rays are expanding their zone, their not making good contact when they do, and aside from Steven Souza—who's absolutely crushing the ball when he does swing at it in the zone—they're not making up the difference with hard contact on the good pitches they do get to hit. Evan Longoria is especially aggressive right now, and it's not doing him any favors.
The Rays need to see this pattern and adjust, because if they don't, other teams surely will recognize what's going on and take advantage of it even more.
Although there's a possible strategy in there. Last season, the Rays started with a passive approach and switched to the aggressive approach mid-season, to good effect. What if that's the plan? What if they're starting off with a super-aggressive approach so that other teams will scout them and decide to pitch them a certain way. And in a month or so they'll start taking pitches and walking all the time?
One can dream.
4 out of the last 5 World Series winners were in the top 5 for batting average and the top 5 leaders in HR's have not won in last 6 years;)— James Loney (@theloney_s) May 2, 2016
Loney is currently batting .311/.321/.419 with one home run in Triple-A. Personally, I think he's tweeting that with a mischievous grin. The man was cool, and slick, and a little bit funny, and also quite rich. I can't picture him bitter.
- This was from Sunday, and might have already been in a ta, but David Laurila talked to Danny Farquhar.
"My biggest thing has been my arm slot," explained Farquhar. "They showed me how my pitches are more effective when it’s a little higher. I might pick up a little more velocity with the lower arm slot, but the movement on the ball is much greater when it’s higher. We worked on that in spring training and my pitches got better."
- Russell Carleton makes the case that maybe the shift doesn't work, because maybe batters hit more home runs when it's on. He doesn't really have the numbers to back this up, but the point is good: teams and analysts should look for all the consequences of a strategy, not just the obvious ones.
- Bill Chastain profiled Rob Metzler, who just took over as scouting director from RJ Harrison.
- With Carl Crawford coming back to the Trop, Marc Topkin ranked the ten best players in Rays history.
I don't really have much of a problem with most of his list. The Crawford/Zobrist decision is a tossup for #2. And while Upton racked up eight more career WAR than Pena, the monster 2007 that Pena had is enough to tip the scales if you're a person who likes peak, and he does tie Longoria for best Rays bat ever by wRC+.
The biggest issue is with Aubrey Huff over Upton. No. Aubrey Huff was a decent hitter in an era when offense was king. You know who has a higher wRC+ than him as a Ray? Matt Joyce. And Logan Forsythe. We don't need to count the WAR for Huff. The best thing Huff ever did for the Rays was bring them Zobrist.
But really, Tanyon Sturtz wins.
Can't believe I didn't make the top 10!! https://t.co/KlsUFp1EwQ— Tanyon Sturtze (@sturtze56) May 3, 2016
- Finally, Ask DRB returns tomorrow at noon. So head over to the Facebook page to get your questions in for Darby ahead of time.