Last night, after watching the Braves blow a late lead in spectacular fashion, I left the television on for the post-game show. It turns out that they had a feature with Terry Pendleton on how to be a hitting coach. And during the course of the interview, TP discussed how Andruw Jones needs to hit the ball “the other way.” Fortunately, Andruw continues to ignore this terrible advice, but TP just doesn’t get it. As I’ve demonstrated before, when AJ goes the other way, he makes outs. When he pulls the ball he gets hits. And his slumps are a product of plate discipline, not where he hits the ball. The same is true in 2006—the hit-chart is for Turner Field only. The red g and f markers are groundouts and flyouts. The black s, d, and t are singles, doubles, and triples, with the blue h representing home runs.
It boggles my mind that Pendleton tries to get Andruw to hit like he did, as I wrote earlier.
TP was a hacker, a good hacker, who never really liked to walk. TP had to hit to all fields because if he didn’t he wasn’t going to get on base swinging at every pitch. Jones has the makings of a patient power-hitter, and needs to be trained as such. Yes, he shouldn’t try to pull outside sliders. But, don’t give in and slap it to right. Foul it off and wait for your pitch. If it stays over the plate crush it to left, right, or center…I don’t care. Risk taking a strike if you have less than two strikes.
I really hate this “other way” crap that color commentators always try to pull-over on the viewer. It’s a device they sometimes use to say, “I’m smarter than you, because while power is fun to watch, it’s the Fundamentals that make a good player.” So, I guess Ted Williams was just some streaky power hitter who would never hit for average. TP ought to know better. He’s not getting paid to talk fluff.
Jeff Burroughs, a massively muscled, barely motile Mariner slugger, was on first base. He took off, trying to steal. What happened next unfolded like an auto accident you’re involved in—in slow motion so you get to savor every ugly detail. Burroughs started lugging. Then, at the speed of a tectonic plate, the lug went into the least graceful slide I’d seen since Little League. Finally, to add injury to insult, he crashed into the infielder tagging him out. He had to be scraped off the field like some ignominious road-kill—existential humor at its most unsightly. Burroughs missed a big chunk of the season, thereby weakening an already anemic offense.
Was the slug-like Burroughs afflicted with a sudden dementia? Nope. After the game, Mariner manager Maury Wills explained that the signal to steal had come from the skipper himself. Wills had once been the premier basestealer in the majors, a compact, efficient speed merchant with an unerring ability to read pitchers and their moves, an exceptional talent that made him famous. Like most people, he came to believe that the talent most important to his career was the talent most important for winning ballgames. It’s a classic management blunder.
Andruw and TP seem to be friends, and I know they are neighbors. But TP has to realize that if this is his advice for Andruw, and it’s the same advice he’s giving to all hitters, it has to stop. While many hitters are successful hitting the ball to all fields, some of the games very best players are pure pull hitters. And it’s these hitters that Andruw ought to emulate, not slap-hitting speedsters.