Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Aggressive Approach"

Few words strike as much baseball fear into me as "new aggressive approach," but to be honest I didn't expect it too have too much impact. The first thing that comes to mind is just more stolen base attempts/caught stealings/wasted outs. That's stupid and sucks, but in the grand scheme of things it's not that bad and lots of teams do it.

The Brewers though, seem to be taking a more aggressive approach in a much more damaging facet of the game: at the plate. Last year the Brewers were 5th in the NL in walks. They were patient, they got guys on (4th in OBP), and they drove them in with power (3rd in slugging).

This season the Brewers are 3rd LAST in walks. In fact, the bottom 3 teams in the NL in walks all reside in the NL central. See below:

NL Central BBs -

STL - 123
Cin - 121
Pit - 120
Mil - 91
Chi - 87
Hou - 83

Note the giant dropoff from 3-4.

The Brewers aren't hitting for quite as much power, but there is not the marked dropoff there (still 6th in slugging). And it will probably also surprise many of you to learn that this team barely ever strikes out (only 3 teams strike out less frequently).

No, this team is swinging at ton, and mostly at bad pitches. They are putting weak balls into play on a regular basis. There's no reason to throw strikes to anyone on the team because most of them will swing at anything.

Some of this you expect with guys like Yuni ad Gomez getting regular time, and Ron Roenicke did himself no favors by batting either player higher than 7th at any point, but it's not just those 2. You don't drop 10 spots in walks based on two people (especially considering that Gomez was on the team last year, and Yuni replaced a free-swinging Alcides Escobar).

It looks to me as if the strategy on the team has fundamentally changed. No longer do they work counts to get a good pitch. I do not believe I have seen a Brewer take a pitch on a 3-1 count this tear. It's probably happened, but I have yet to witness it, and I watch a lot of games.

This team needs to get patient, and they need to do it now. I hate the idea that "aggressive" is something to aspire to in baseball. That it's some manly attribute that helps you win games and that players are all namby-pamby wusses that need coaxing into aggressiveness.

Aggressiveness is easy. It's the default. Going up there and taking hacks is what guys do naturally.

Patience is difficult, and patience is what they need.

This is also just one problem. They also appear to be stupid and bad at defense, but I'm not sure they can fix that. They CAN take a different approach. Keep an eye on their walk total. If they're not in the top 5 by the end of the year, they'll be bringing up the rear of the NL central.

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