Games » Los Angeles AngelsApr2
What does Chris Getz have to do to get the post-game-on-field interview? Getz had three hits, seven putouts, two RBIs (including the game winner), broke up a double play to make sure another run scored and threw a guy out at the plate - and they still interviewed Aaron Crow. (Actually, not a bad choice. Crow pitched well and got his first big league win.)
But it’s hard for a second baseman to have a better day than Chris Getz had yesterday.
It’s taken awhile, but I figure the best thing I can do with this website is cover the stuff that other people might not have the time or space to get to. So I’ll continue to point out stuff that doesn’t make the box score, like Getz breaking up a potentially inning-ending double play that got the Royals an extra run.
Jeff Francoeur did the same thing in the 8th. If he doesn’t hustle and break up a double play, Matt Treanor never comes to the plate with the chance to tie the game and Getz then doesn’t come to the plate with the chance to win it.
And while we’re talking about Matt Treanor, he’s showing why they got him. He blocked a pitch with a runner on third in the 3rd that saved a run. In the 5th he blocked another pitch with a runner on second so the grounder that followed only moved the runner to third instead of driving him in. Then Treanor blocked the plate on a throw from Chris Getz and tagged out the runner coming home. That’s three runs Treanor saved with his defense and none of them will show up statistically.
In the first three games Treanor has saved two runs on plays at the plate and he and Brayan Pena have saved three more by blocking pitches. Professionals don’t care if you put the runs on the board or keep them off and I think fans should look at it the same way.
Every Royal has the green light for stealing bases. Ned Yost can put on a “shut down” sign or a “must go” sign.
Jeff Francoeur took advantage of the green light in the 2nd. There were two outs (a good time to steal because if you stay put it will likely take two hits to score you instead of one) Wilson Betemit got to 0-2 and Francoeur held, wary of a pitchout. Once it got to 1-2 Jeff figured that was a good time to go because the pitcher, Ervin Santana, was likely to break out a nasty breaking pitch for the out. If Francoeur was thrown out, Betemit leads off the next inning with a fresh count. If Jeff’s safe, he’s a hit away from scoring. Wilson fouled the pitch off, but the thought process is instructive. Watch for the same situation in the future and you’ll be able to predict a steal attempt to the consternation (another word I’ve never used in a conversation) of your annoyed friends.
You can also watch for groundballs when they bring in Kanekoa Texeira. That’s usually what he’s trying to get and he managed it in the 6th, but a hard slide by the Angels broke up a potential double play.
Now batting leadoff
Mike Aviles isn’t your typical leadoff hitter and he knows it. He says he’s hitting first by default and thinks it would be a mistake to make too many changes in an approach that’s been successful. Players can mess themselves up when they think they need to hit differently because they’ve been shifted to a different spot in the order. Generally, managers want the player to keep doing whatever he’s been doing that prompted the shift in the order in the first place. (There’s a comprehensible sentence in there someplace, good luck finding it.)
The one concession Aviles has made to the switch is taking the first pitch of the game. After that, he says all bets are off. That lead to a discussion of leading off an inning and whether you should ever swing at the first pitch. Mike thought it depended on the situation. If it’s a guy you’ve hit well in the past and you suspect he’s going to “toss you a cookie” (baseball for “a very hittable fastball”), thrown to get ahead in the count, Aviles thinks you should tee it up. But only if it’s a pitch you can do some “damage” with (more baseball for “hit the snot out of it”).
We then talked about batting behind a guy who swings at the first pitch of the inning. It’s fine if he gets a hit, but if he doesn’t you’re probably taking at least one strike. And let’s say the pitcher throws that strike and you’re now 0-1. Then he throws another strike and you don’t want to go 0-2 so you hack. If you make an out the third guy up is really screwed. He can’t let the pitcher out of the inning on four pitches, so he’s probably taking until he has two strikes. The pitcher should know this and pound the zone.
So sometimes a bad at-bat happens because of the preceding at-bats. (It’s usually a mistake to look at any one play, player or statistic in isolation. Everything affects everything.)
After his Opening Day home run, I asked Jeff Francoeur if he had listened to Clint Hurdle’s hitting advice (concentrate on hitting the ball to the opposite field gap) or if he’s going full Happy Gilmore. He said he was listening to Clint: look for a pitch away and adjust in when you have to.
Jeff said he’s also backed off the plate to facilitate (didn’t think I knew that word, did you?) that approach. Francoeur’s got long arms and whenever pitchers see that in batter, they think about going inside and tying the hitter up. By backing off the plate Jeff’s trying to make sure that inside pitch is a ball and that forces the pitchers to go back out over the plate where Francoeur wants the ball.
He said hitting coach Kevin Seitzer had helped him with his mental approach: basically being selectively aggressive. Looking for a certain pitch, gearing the swing for that zone and teeing off when it’s there.
Seitzer pointed out that even if a pitcher hung a curve bigger than life, a hitter that wasn’t looking for it would have a poor pass at the ball. Once a hitter gets to two strikes he’s got to get a lot less selective, but before that a hitter wants to get his pitch.
P.S. Francoeur also told me how much he’s enjoying Kansas City. He thinks it’s awesome because in New York there are dozens of reporters hanging around the clubhouse trying to dig up dirt and in Kansas City, “You guys just get your stories and leave.” (Not the first time my most favorable attribute was absence.)