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Wednesday's Three Astros Things

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Talking about beating the shift, George Springer and modern scouting...

Some things to talk about while Buster Olney takes shots at analysis without mentioning the Astros...

1) Beating the shift

This one will be quick. I mentioned it on Twitter during Tuesday's game, but something struck me about the shift. Opponents of Houston shifting too much will point to "professional" hitters being able to go the other way and pick up easy hits.

On Tuesday, I saw Prince Fielder do just that. With a pronounced shift that saw just one player on the left side of second base and Jose Altuve stationed in short left field, Fielder picked up two hits. The first was a ball he shot down the third base line that barely stayed fair.

Fielder rounded first and tried to stretch it into a double, but was gunned down at second on a bang-bang play that was reviewed. His second hit also went to the left side, getting far enough from Jonathan Villar for a clean single.

Let's think about this for a minute, though. Prince Fielder was picked up by Texas not for his absurdly high batting average nor his contact skills. Texas got Fielder to be a masher in the middle of the order. He hasn't done that this season, but that's still the role he's supposed to fill.

In beating the shift, Fielder completely denuded his power. He worried about picking up singles when he's supposed to be aiming for the seats.

That's why I don't worry about some hitters occasionally doing this. Most times, the shift will work. Even when it gets beaten, the hits won't be for extra bases. 

2) Brooks Baseball on George Springer

It's still early in his MLB career, but I wanted to check in on George Springer. PS - did anyone else notice that his walk rate jumped five points in one game b/c he drew three walks? And you wonder why I say it's too early to draw any conclusions on people?

At any rate, Brooks Baseball has a nice breakdown of Springer's hitting this season. It's also slightly hilarious:

Against All Fastballs (247 seen), he has had a very good eye (1.22 d'; 75% swing rate at pitches in the zone vs. 29% swing rate at pitches out of the zone) and an aggressive approach at the plate (-0.06 c) with a disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss (31% whiff/swing).

Against Breaking Pitches (127 seen), he has had an exceptionally good eye (1.47 d'; 81% swing rate at pitches in the zone vs. 28% swing rate at pitches out of the zone) and an aggressive approach at the plate (-0.14 c) with a disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss (55% whiff/swing).

Against Offspeed Pitches (59 seen), he has had a league average eye (1.00 d'; 74% swing rate at pitches in the zone vs. 36% swing rate at pitches out of the zone) and a steady approach at the plate (-0.14 c) with an above average likelihood to swing and miss (43% whiff/swing). 

Very good eye overall, it seems for the young Springer. But, I have to admit, the phrase "disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss" just cracks me up. Is there a more appropriate description of Springer at the plate right now?

3) Baseball scouting

Really great article at Sports on Earth about modern scouting. You really need to read the entire thing, but I'll leave you with this snippet: 

In the hands of someone experienced, like Law, this resource can be useful. When unqualified people get their hands on this freely available information, it can cause some issues. "Accessibility, with the way that the internet is now, allows people who have no f***ing clue what they're doing to put out things people think are legitimate," according to Baseball Prospectus' prospect guru Jason Parks. Parks isn't necessarily opposed to more people having a voice, but only if they employ a sound process. "I run into far too many glorified Google-scouts," he adds.

Since we're gearing up for draft season, contextualizing what all the different outlets do now is very important. Great read here.