May 18, 2015
Gleeman and The Geek #193: Hicks up, Vargas down
Topics for this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode included the Twins calling up Aaron Hicks (again) and demoting Kennys Vargas, how they've figured out how to beat every team except the Tigers, Jordan Schafer's place on the team whenever he's healthy, reviewing Comerica Park and Mad Max, Tommy Milone thriving at Triple-A, wanting someone who can actually hit in the DH spot, and answering mailbag questions from listeners.
Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 193
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On Vargas, I think what Molitor is looking for goes beyond small sample stats like his average in May. Just before they sent him down, Vargas at the plate looked like he was getting bogged down in his analysis of the per-pitch situation. He wasn’t processing the information fast enough to have his hitting plan settled in his mind for each pitch.
Contrast that with Plouffe, who looks like he’s processing the situational information easily now. He steps up to the plate before each pitch looking like he’s got his plan, narrowing his zone down to a small area, and if the delivery doesn’t fit that profile, he doesn’t swing.
You can see elements of that development in other players, too. Hicks now looks like he’s got at least part of a plan, though none of hitting seems to come naturally for him. Rosario has great hands, a nice swing and a good batting stance, but doesn’t look like he has much of a plan. Dozier’s plan is elegantly simple – Lays off the outside stuff, hits middle up the middle, and if he sees anything up and in, Wham! Hat tip, Tom Brunansky.
Vargas will be back when he stops verbalizing his situational analysis. High-speed sports like baseball (during a play) can’t be played effectively when your head is filled with words, even if they’re the right words. You have to get past that stage to non-verbal understanding, reading visual cues.
That’s where Plouffe is today. He’s not saying to himself, “3 and 2, two outs, pitcher looks a little nervous, probably fastball middle away.” He just sees the field, including the pitcher’s demeanor, then knows which segment of the strike zone he’s going to look for. The other factor in Plouffe’s favor is simply experience. Even if he strikes out, he’s not going to let it eat him up inside, or worry that they’ll send him down if he strikes out again. Plouffe is past that. He’s processing the game visually, and he’s trusting in the processes he’s developed to shift the odds in his favor. Now he’s really playing the game, and it’s fun to watch.
Comment by jimbo92107 — May 19, 2015 @ 5:26 pm
The only sensible explanation is there was a 2-game interleague series surrounded by 2 off-days during which Vargas probably wouldn’t have played. I guess sending him down keeps his hot bat active during that 4-day stretch?
Comment by Ryan Glanzer — May 20, 2015 @ 8:57 am