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Off Day Observations: Our team-wide hitting approach is holding us back


chw42
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I decided to take a look at our batted ball profiles compared to the ML average and if our middle-opposite field hitting approach is actually causing some of the power decline we've seen with the team in 2022. Here's what I found. 

Name Pull Pull wOBA Pull GB% Pull GB wOBA Pull FB% Pull FB wOBA Pull LA Pull EV Pull Pitch Center Center wOBA Center GB% Center GB wOBA Center FB% Center FB wOBA Center LA Center EV Center Pitch Oppo Oppo wOBA Oppo GB% Oppo GB wOBA Oppo FB% Oppo FB wOBA Oppo LA Oppo EV Oppo Pitch
League Average 37.80% 0.426 54.80% 0.177 18.10% 0.876 6.1 89.9 87.9 37% 0.317 46.50% 0.214 25.45% 0.311 9.5 88.9 89 25.10% 0.324 22% 0.401 37.90% 0.226 26 84.7 90
White Sox 35.30% 0.382 59.60% 0.172 13.68% 0.781 2.4 89.8 87.2 37.25% 0.325 48.10% 0.221 24.40% 0.348 8.5 89.7 88.6 27.43% 0.352 25.30% 0.464 36.50% 0.198 23.2 85.7 89.4
Andrew Vaughn 29.79% 0.491 54.80% 0.231 13.70% 1.158 3.1 91.1 86.6 38.36% 0.363 56.38% 0.257 19.15% 0.672 4.4 93.9 87.9 31.83% 0.329 30.77% 0.332 32.05% 0.187 17.4 89.3 89
Luis Robert 35.50% 0.531 63.22% 0.269 10.35% 1.287 -1.5 90.9 88 36.33% 0.372 50.56% 0.315 20.22% 0.344 6.4 89.6 88.5 28.16% 0.306 20.29% 0.406 37.68% 0.306 28.6 86.1 88.8
Eloy Jimenez 34.62% 0.541 50% 0.197 27.78% 1.239 8.8 97.2 88.7 48.10% 0.298 64% 0.276 16% 0.221 -1.4 91.4 88.2 17.31% 0.098 44.44% 0 44.44% 0 13.3 89.8 92.1
Tim Anderson 30.13% 0.251 77.78% 0.158 4.17% 0 -7.3 86.3 87.2 38.91% 0.355 60.22% 0.205 16.13% 0.359 -0.1 89.5 88.3 30.96% 0.501 27.03% 0.587 32.43% 0.381 17.6 88.7 88.6
A.J. Pollock 44.40% 0.342 56.04% 0.069 10.99% 0.708 1.9 89.4 87.2 32.68% 0.283 44.78% 0.295 26.86% 0.049 13.4 89 88.4 22.93% 0.302 10.64% 0.354 38.30% 0.304 36.6 85.2 89.6

I'm sure if you've read this forum a lot, you've seen a handful of posters constantly complaining that the White Sox don't pull the ball in the air enough. The reason for that is because on average, pulled fly balls get you a .876 wOBA. That's pretty much as good as hitting a line drive. Hitting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field give you far worse results than pulling the ball, as seen by the .317 and .324 wOBA when hitting the ball to center and the opposite field. There is one caveat to pulling the ball though: you'll hit a lot of grounders since you'll probably roll over on pitches more often with that approach, as seen by the near 55% ground ball percentage when pulling the ball. This is far higher than a batted ball in any other direction. Pull-heavy teams might tend to be less consistent offensively, but when they do hit their share of fly balls in the air, they're heavily rewarded. The teams that tend to pull the ball more tend to hit more home runs. 

The White Sox, in all their infinite wisdom, have gone away from the league trend and are 24th in the league in home runs and 27th in ISO despite having multiple guys in the lineup with massive raw power. They do however, lead the league in singles. When you look at the way the Sox hit, a couple of things really stand out. They don't pull the ball as much and when they do, the results kind of aren't there with the team as a whole. They pull the ball on the ground more than the league and hit way less fly balls than the league. so even though the league is having success pulling the ball, the Sox are not. They are better than league average when hitting to the opposite field and to center. So you might be able to say that the middle-out approach the organization teaches is working. Especially when the Sox get a gaudy .464 wOBA on ground balls to the opposite field. The only problem with it is that ground balls to the opposite field usually only get you singles. And the Sox as a whole don't have enough consistent hitters to link singles together to score runs. Which is why you often see the team have 6-8 hits and have like 1 or 2 runs. It sure seems like the Sox and Menechino thought they had found some kind of market inefficiency by hitting the ball to the opposite field, but in reality, they've just managed to get a bunch of hits while not scoring enough runs. You'd also think this middle-out approach would help in situations where the bases are loaded, but that obviously hasn't been the case this year. In general, the team is doing what the Sox and Menechino are preaching in terms of hitting philosophy, but the results simply are not there because the approach only works if you have a lineup full of consistent hitters. That's something that the Sox simply do not have at this point. 

That being said, it doesn't have to be that way. The Sox don't have the same type of hitter all across the lineup. This middle-out hitting approach benefits some guys while it's seriously hurting others who could be helping this team score a lot more runs. One guy who benefits from the middle-out approach is Tim Anderson. As you might have guessed, he is a monster when he hits the ball the other way. And he hits the ball the other way a lot more than just about everyone on the team. However, his hitting approach basically makes him useless when he pulls the ball. He puts it on the ground a staggering 78% of the time when he pulls and he doesn't have a hit yet on a pulled fly ball this year because he's only pulled the ball in the air 4 times all year. You read that right, 4 times. Sometimes you have to wonder why teams even bother playing a LFer when he's up. The funniest part is that a decent amount of those pulled grounders are probably when the Sox had the bases loaded. TA's numbers this year aren't bad, but something still makes me think that his swing/approach are kind of broken at the moment. On the opposite end, we have AJ Pollock, who pulls the ball a lot. But his timing is so bad that he just ends up rolling over quite a bit. That's why he has a .069 wOBA on pulled grounders. Nobody really hits well on them, but .069 is something else.

Then we get to the 3 guys who I think this middle-out approach is really hurting. When Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, and Eloy Jimenez pull the ball, they get results. When your wOBA is over 1.000 when you pull the ball in the air, you should really think about doing it more. What's worse is that for guys like Vaughn, hitting to the opposite field isn't really working. He hits opposite field more than Tim Anderson, but only has a .332 wOBA to show for it. Luis Robert's numbers look ok when he does go opposite field, but he's also popped the ball up a ton when going that way (14 times) and it looks like he's making contact for the sake of making contact. Even in advantaged counts. So he ends up looking like a slap hitter when he looks like Mike Trout when he pulls the ball. Eloy has always had good opposite field power, but that was before MLB decided to deaden the balls even more. In a small sample this year, he has yet to get a hit on an opposite field fly ball. The majority of his power has come when he has pulled the ball. One thing to look at is the pitch velocity that these opposite field hits occur on. Outside of Eloy (small sample), all these guys are hitting pitches slower than the ML average to the opposite field. That tells me that this isn't a timing issue or that they can't pull high velocity. It just tells me that they're doing this on purpose. And if you really think about it, it doesn't make a ton of sense. Why would you sell out the power on the team for some extra singles when the league is doing the opposite and having success? It almost feels like the Sox want to be different for the sake of being different. The problem is that the approach is clearly not working. They're getting out-homered at home and even when they had a mostly healthy team in the playoffs last year, they ended up putting weak balls in play just to make contact. They probably aren't going to make a change at hitting coach this year, but I hope they do something about this in the off-season. As is, they're probably ruining some of these young hitters' careers by having them do something that isn't actually productive. 

TLDR: Fire Menechino

Edited by chw42
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Great post, great analysis, its a great successor to the "fire menechino" threads. To add, they are swinging at pitches more out of the zone and making contact more than last season. This is deliberate. They are going up there looking to drive the ball the other way and are just looking to make contact. How the FO is ok with this approach is beyond me, i tell myself that they are just not aware of it because well we don't have an analytics department.

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Excellent analysis. This approach was instituted for the team for a reason.

Two that I can think of are:

1. They thought that pulling the ball less would make for a more consistent offense, maybe score fewer runs overall but win more if there is more consistency. 

2. The rumored change in the ball was going to decrease the HR numbers a great deal so they would "get ahead of the curve" by instituting the different philosophy and win more.

Neither is currently happening so the offense looks lost.

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3 minutes ago, ptatc said:

Excellent analysis. This approach was instituted for the team for a reason.

Two that I can think of are:

1. They thought that pulling the ball less would make for a more consistent offense, maybe score fewer runs overall but win more if there is more consistency. 

2. The rumored change in the ball was going to decrease the HR numbers a great deal so they would "get ahead of the curve" by instituting the different philosophy and win more.

Neither is currently happening so the offense looks lost.

I can see what their thought process was. They went into the year thinking a fully healthy lineup was pretty good at least 1-7. If they can have a hit parade going through that, they'd score a lot of runs and it'd be less feast or famine. In reality, we got maybe 4 hitters doing well in the lineup and the rest was near or below replacement level. This ends up with a few of the 4 guys doing well hitting singles and the rest of the lineup stranding them on base. This is how we end up with a team that has trouble scoring more than 4 runs. They might be able to score 3 runs consistently, but probably not much more than that.

I actually think a change in the ball should encourage teams to pull the ball more. Hard hit balls to CF don't travel as far and have been the biggest victims of the deadened ball. Pulled home runs require less distance and thus less exit velocity and a bigger variation in launch angle. You'd basically have to hit a ball over 100 MPH with a launch angle around 30 to hit a ball out of CF. If you pull the ball, you can probably get it out with an LA between 20-38 with an exit velocity as low as 95. 

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1 hour ago, reiks12 said:

Great post, great analysis, its a great successor to the "fire menechino" threads. To add, they are swinging at pitches more out of the zone and making contact more than last season. This is deliberate. They are going up there looking to drive the ball the other way and are just looking to make contact. How the FO is ok with this approach is beyond me, i tell myself that they are just not aware of it because well we don't have an analytics department.

To be fair, I don't think the White Sox are stupid enough to not see what I see. They had a plan that they thought would work, but injuries and circumstances out of their control like the deadened ball and cold weather early in the year put a huge damper on that plan. In the future they need to adjust the plan and stop muzzling their big power hitters. 

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2 minutes ago, Paulie4Pres said:

The problem with not hitting home runs and focusing on getting hits, is you need guys who can run to make the most of that approach. This team is fucking slow. None of what they are doing makes any sense.

Right. The Guardians make a lot of contact but they also have fast guys like Rosario and Kwan who are willing to run hard and aggressively. Meanwhile, our guys pull hamstrings running down to 1B. 

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1 hour ago, Tony said:

These are very good posts, shouldn't be available on a free site lol

If you're saying that the fans are smarter than the people that run the teams, what damn fool doesn't already know that? 😁

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3 hours ago, chw42 said:

He puts it on the ground a staggering 78% of the time when he pulls and he doesn't have a hit yet on a pulled fly ball this year because he's only pulled the ball in the air 4 times all year. You read that right, 4 times.

absolutely wild

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2 minutes ago, bmags said:

absolutely wild

He went through something similar last year. I think it took until the Cubs series at Wrigley for him to figure it out. IIRC, he did almost pull a homer early in the year against Tampa but Josh Lowe robbed him. He does hit line drives to LF, but it really seems like he just doesn't drive the ball with authority to LF like he does to the opposite field. 

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18 minutes ago, chw42 said:

He went through something similar last year. I think it took until the Cubs series at Wrigley for him to figure it out. IIRC, he did almost pull a homer early in the year against Tampa but Josh Lowe robbed him. He does hit line drives to LF, but it really seems like he just doesn't drive the ball with authority to LF like he does to the opposite field. 

And it's just funny because all of the indelible TA hits in my head are him just absolutely getting all of a ball pulling it out to LF (like his Brad Keller HR).

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2 hours ago, reiks12 said:

Great post, great analysis, its a great successor to the "fire menechino" threads. To add, they are swinging at pitches more out of the zone and making contact more than last season. This is deliberate. They are going up there looking to drive the ball the other way and are just looking to make contact. How the FO is ok with this approach is beyond me, i tell myself that they are just not aware of it because well we don't have an analytics department.

You are right on one thing the front office is clueless. Even if the analytics dept saw this problem, they can't do anything about it, because the demented and arrogant owner won't fire TLR. Plus TLR is so lost in his time machine past and doesn't realize what a loser Menechino really is. 

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4 hours ago, chw42 said:

I decided to take a look at our batted ball profiles compared to the ML average and if our middle-opposite field hitting approach is actually causing some of the power decline we've seen with the team in 2022. Here's what I found. 

Name Pull Pull wOBA Pull GB% Pull GB wOBA Pull FB% Pull FB wOBA Pull LA Pull EV Pull Pitch Center Center wOBA Center GB% Center GB wOBA Center FB% Center FB wOBA Center LA Center EV Center Pitch Oppo Oppo wOBA Oppo GB% Oppo GB wOBA Oppo FB% Oppo FB wOBA Oppo LA Oppo EV Oppo Pitch
League Average 37.80% 0.426 54.80% 0.177 18.10% 0.876 6.1 89.9 87.9 37% 0.317 46.50% 0.214 25.45% 0.311 9.5 88.9 89 25.10% 0.324 22% 0.401 37.90% 0.226 26 84.7 90
White Sox 35.30% 0.382 59.60% 0.172 13.68% 0.781 2.4 89.8 87.2 37.25% 0.325 48.10% 0.221 24.40% 0.348 8.5 89.7 88.6 27.43% 0.352 25.30% 0.464 36.50% 0.198 23.2 85.7 89.4
Andrew Vaughn 29.79% 0.491 54.80% 0.231 13.70% 1.158 3.1 91.1 86.6 38.36% 0.363 56.38% 0.257 19.15% 0.672 4.4 93.9 87.9 31.83% 0.329 30.77% 0.332 32.05% 0.187 17.4 89.3 89
Luis Robert 35.50% 0.531 63.22% 0.269 10.35% 1.287 -1.5 90.9 88 36.33% 0.372 50.56% 0.315 20.22% 0.344 6.4 89.6 88.5 28.16% 0.306 20.29% 0.406 37.68% 0.306 28.6 86.1 88.8
Eloy Jimenez 34.62% 0.541 50% 0.197 27.78% 1.239 8.8 97.2 88.7 48.10% 0.298 64% 0.276 16% 0.221 -1.4 91.4 88.2 17.31% 0.098 44.44% 0 44.44% 0 13.3 89.8 92.1
Tim Anderson 30.13% 0.251 77.78% 0.158 4.17% 0 -7.3 86.3 87.2 38.91% 0.355 60.22% 0.205 16.13% 0.359 -0.1 89.5 88.3 30.96% 0.501 27.03% 0.587 32.43% 0.381 17.6 88.7 88.6
A.J. Pollock 44.40% 0.342 56.04% 0.069 10.99% 0.708 1.9 89.4 87.2 32.68% 0.283 44.78% 0.295 26.86% 0.049 13.4 89 88.4 22.93% 0.302 10.64% 0.354 38.30% 0.304 36.6 85.2 89.6

I'm sure if you've read this forum a lot, you've seen a handful of posters constantly complaining that the White Sox don't pull the ball in the air enough. The reason for that is because on average, pulled fly balls get you a .876 wOBA. That's pretty much as good as hitting a line drive. Hitting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field give you far worse results than pulling the ball, as seen by the .317 and .324 wOBA when hitting the ball to center and the opposite field. There is one caveat to pulling the ball though: you'll hit a lot of grounders since you'll probably roll over on pitches more often with that approach, as seen by the near 55% ground ball percentage when pulling the ball. This is far higher than a batted ball in any other direction. Pull-heavy teams might tend to be less consistent offensively, but when they do hit their share of fly balls in the air, they're heavily rewarded. The teams that tend to pull the ball more tend to hit more home runs. 

The White Sox, in all their infinite wisdom, have gone away from the league trend and are 24th in the league in home runs and 27th in ISO despite having multiple guys in the lineup with massive raw power. They do however, lead the league in singles. When you look at the way the Sox hit, a couple of things really stand out. They don't pull the ball as much and when they do, the results kind of aren't there with the team as a whole. They pull the ball on the ground more than the league and hit way less fly balls than the league. so even though the league is having success pulling the ball, the Sox are not. They are better than league average when hitting to the opposite field and to center. So you might be able to say that the middle-out approach the organization teaches is working. Especially when the Sox get a gaudy .464 wOBA on ground balls to the opposite field. The only problem with it is that ground balls to the opposite field usually only get you singles. And the Sox as a whole don't have enough consistent hitters to link singles together to score runs. Which is why you often see the team have 6-8 hits and have like 1 or 2 runs. It sure seems like the Sox and Menechino thought they had found some kind of market inefficiency by hitting the ball to the opposite field, but in reality, they've just managed to get a bunch of hits while not scoring enough runs. You'd also think this middle-out approach would help in situations where the bases are loaded, but that obviously hasn't been the case this year. In general, the team is doing what the Sox and Menechino are preaching in terms of hitting philosophy, but the results simply are not there because the approach only works if you have a lineup full of consistent hitters. That's something that the Sox simply do not have at this point. 

That being said, it doesn't have to be that way. The Sox don't have the same type of hitter all across the lineup. This middle-out hitting approach benefits some guys while it's seriously hurting others who could be helping this team score a lot more runs. One guy who benefits from the middle-out approach is Tim Anderson. As you might have guessed, he is a monster when he hits the ball the other way. And he hits the ball the other way a lot more than just about everyone on the team. However, his hitting approach basically makes him useless when he pulls the ball. He puts it on the ground a staggering 78% of the time when he pulls and he doesn't have a hit yet on a pulled fly ball this year because he's only pulled the ball in the air 4 times all year. You read that right, 4 times. Sometimes you have to wonder why teams even bother playing a LFer when he's up. The funniest part is that a decent amount of those pulled grounders are probably when the Sox had the bases loaded. TA's numbers this year aren't bad, but something still makes me think that his swing/approach are kind of broken at the moment. On the opposite end, we have AJ Pollock, who pulls the ball a lot. But his timing is so bad that he just ends up rolling over quite a bit. That's why he has a .069 wOBA on pulled grounders. Nobody really hits well on them, but .069 is something else.

Then we get to the 3 guys who I think this middle-out approach is really hurting. When Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, and Eloy Jimenez pull the ball, they get results. When your wOBA is over 1.000 when you pull the ball in the air, you should really think about doing it more. What's worse is that for guys like Vaughn, hitting to the opposite field isn't really working. He hits opposite field more than Tim Anderson, but only has a .332 wOBA to show for it. Luis Robert's numbers look ok when he does go opposite field, but he's also popped the ball up a ton when going that way (14 times) and it looks like he's making contact for the sake of making contact. Even in advantaged counts. So he ends up looking like a slap hitter when he looks like Mike Trout when he pulls the ball. Eloy has always had good opposite field power, but that was before MLB decided to deaden the balls even more. In a small sample this year, he has yet to get a hit on an opposite field fly ball. The majority of his power has come when he has pulled the ball. One thing to look at is the pitch velocity that these opposite field hits occur on. Outside of Eloy (small sample), all these guys are hitting pitches slower than the ML average to the opposite field. That tells me that this isn't a timing issue or that they can't pull high velocity. It just tells me that they're doing this on purpose. And if you really think about it, it doesn't make a ton of sense. Why would you sell out the power on the team for some extra singles when the league is doing the opposite and having success? It almost feels like the Sox want to be different for the sake of being different. The problem is that the approach is clearly not working. They're getting out-homered at home and even when they had a mostly healthy team in the playoffs last year, they ended up putting weak balls in play just to make contact. They probably aren't going to make a change at hitting coach this year, but I hope they do something about this in the off-season. As is, they're probably ruining some of these young hitters' careers by having them do something that isn't actually productive. 

TLDR: Fire Menechino

Excellent analysis and this just makes more me sick that we waste away this potential talent because of two POS losers TLR and Menechino.

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1 hour ago, chw42 said:

To be fair, I don't think the White Sox are stupid enough to not see what I see. They had a plan that they thought would work, but injuries and circumstances out of their control like the deadened ball and cold weather early in the year put a huge damper on that plan. In the future they need to adjust the plan and stop muzzling their big power hitters. 

They traded for, signed, and drafted players that have some of the highest exit velocities in the game. It makes no sense for them to pivot and choose a hitting approach that deviates from their strength. None. Even with all the injuries we are still a team that has a high exit velocity. Such a wasted offense and no doubt confused a lot of them. 

Its as if Menechino gave up on his hitters when he saw they were struggling with outside breaking balls, so instead of continuing to work on pitch selection he told them not to not swing as hard so they could hit those bad pitches? I just don't get it, but thats the story the numbers are telling me. Looking for answers. 

I would rather them shrug off any issues with bad contact outside the zone because a strike is better than an out in my book. I would rather see Robert attempt to tee off and miss rather than see him hit a single the other way, weak chopper, or popup. The next pitch might be a cookie, who knows. They should have doubled down on their strength rather than change them. Looking at the 2019s of our guys I am just scratching my head on why they decided to do a 180 on everything.

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5 minutes ago, harkness99 said:

good break down...

however ill stick to the biggest issue for this team is lack of plate discipline and chase rate.

Last time I looked we were one of the worse in all the MLB

Yeah that's another big issue. They're last in walk rate in baseball. If they're going with this dink and dunk approach to hitting getting guys on via walks helps out a lot. 

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59 minutes ago, harkness99 said:

good break down...

however ill stick to the biggest issue for this team is lack of plate discipline and chase rate.

Last time I looked we were one of the worse in all the MLB

Is that a true chase issue or is it an approach issue? Like if teams know the Sox go the other way it benefits them to shift that way and throw the ball off the corner where it's hard to make solid contact. You're also super vulnerable to outside sliders because it looks like the thing you want (outer third fastball) and then you either swing and miss or make bad contact. I would challenge them to not even swing at pitches outside until 2 strikes, and try to hammer anything they can pull reliably. Reset some of those scouting reports - Eloy's two pulled homers against Cleveland were a welcome sight. He got hangers and hammered them.

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I’m curious, but did we all forgot these famous Menechino quotes?  Is anyone really surprised by this team approach given Frank’s view on hitting?

Quote

F--- the home run.

Quote

"Guys are really starting to learn the strike zone, not chase," Menechino said. "If you're living by the home run all the time and not being able to produce runs, it's not conducive to winning baseball.

"The goal is always, in the beginning of the season, to get as many hits as you can, manufacture runs. The home runs will come."

Quote

"I've told Andrew to hit .300," Menechino said. "'I don't care if you don't hit one home run. Hit .300, work on hitting .300.' And if he goes into that where he's going to look to hit .300?

"Everybody wants to see the home run and see (Nick) Madrigal hit a home run. I don’t want to get excited, but f--- the home run. Let's hit .300. Then we will worry about the other stuff later."

 

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5 hours ago, chw42 said:

I decided to take a look at our batted ball profiles compared to the ML average and if our middle-opposite field hitting approach is actually causing some of the power decline we've seen with the team in 2022. Here's what I found. 

Name Pull Pull wOBA Pull GB% Pull GB wOBA Pull FB% Pull FB wOBA Pull LA Pull EV Pull Pitch Center Center wOBA Center GB% Center GB wOBA Center FB% Center FB wOBA Center LA Center EV Center Pitch Oppo Oppo wOBA Oppo GB% Oppo GB wOBA Oppo FB% Oppo FB wOBA Oppo LA Oppo EV Oppo Pitch
League Average 37.80% 0.426 54.80% 0.177 18.10% 0.876 6.1 89.9 87.9 37% 0.317 46.50% 0.214 25.45% 0.311 9.5 88.9 89 25.10% 0.324 22% 0.401 37.90% 0.226 26 84.7 90
White Sox 35.30% 0.382 59.60% 0.172 13.68% 0.781 2.4 89.8 87.2 37.25% 0.325 48.10% 0.221 24.40% 0.348 8.5 89.7 88.6 27.43% 0.352 25.30% 0.464 36.50% 0.198 23.2 85.7 89.4
Andrew Vaughn 29.79% 0.491 54.80% 0.231 13.70% 1.158 3.1 91.1 86.6 38.36% 0.363 56.38% 0.257 19.15% 0.672 4.4 93.9 87.9 31.83% 0.329 30.77% 0.332 32.05% 0.187 17.4 89.3 89
Luis Robert 35.50% 0.531 63.22% 0.269 10.35% 1.287 -1.5 90.9 88 36.33% 0.372 50.56% 0.315 20.22% 0.344 6.4 89.6 88.5 28.16% 0.306 20.29% 0.406 37.68% 0.306 28.6 86.1 88.8
Eloy Jimenez 34.62% 0.541 50% 0.197 27.78% 1.239 8.8 97.2 88.7 48.10% 0.298 64% 0.276 16% 0.221 -1.4 91.4 88.2 17.31% 0.098 44.44% 0 44.44% 0 13.3 89.8 92.1
Tim Anderson 30.13% 0.251 77.78% 0.158 4.17% 0 -7.3 86.3 87.2 38.91% 0.355 60.22% 0.205 16.13% 0.359 -0.1 89.5 88.3 30.96% 0.501 27.03% 0.587 32.43% 0.381 17.6 88.7 88.6
A.J. Pollock 44.40% 0.342 56.04% 0.069 10.99% 0.708 1.9 89.4 87.2 32.68% 0.283 44.78% 0.295 26.86% 0.049 13.4 89 88.4 22.93% 0.302 10.64% 0.354 38.30% 0.304 36.6 85.2 89.6

I'm sure if you've read this forum a lot, you've seen a handful of posters constantly complaining that the White Sox don't pull the ball in the air enough. The reason for that is because on average, pulled fly balls get you a .876 wOBA. That's pretty much as good as hitting a line drive. Hitting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field give you far worse results than pulling the ball, as seen by the .317 and .324 wOBA when hitting the ball to center and the opposite field. There is one caveat to pulling the ball though: you'll hit a lot of grounders since you'll probably roll over on pitches more often with that approach, as seen by the near 55% ground ball percentage when pulling the ball. This is far higher than a batted ball in any other direction. Pull-heavy teams might tend to be less consistent offensively, but when they do hit their share of fly balls in the air, they're heavily rewarded. The teams that tend to pull the ball more tend to hit more home runs. 

The White Sox, in all their infinite wisdom, have gone away from the league trend and are 24th in the league in home runs and 27th in ISO despite having multiple guys in the lineup with massive raw power. They do however, lead the league in singles. When you look at the way the Sox hit, a couple of things really stand out. They don't pull the ball as much and when they do, the results kind of aren't there with the team as a whole. They pull the ball on the ground more than the league and hit way less fly balls than the league. so even though the league is having success pulling the ball, the Sox are not. They are better than league average when hitting to the opposite field and to center. So you might be able to say that the middle-out approach the organization teaches is working. Especially when the Sox get a gaudy .464 wOBA on ground balls to the opposite field. The only problem with it is that ground balls to the opposite field usually only get you singles. And the Sox as a whole don't have enough consistent hitters to link singles together to score runs. Which is why you often see the team have 6-8 hits and have like 1 or 2 runs. It sure seems like the Sox and Menechino thought they had found some kind of market inefficiency by hitting the ball to the opposite field, but in reality, they've just managed to get a bunch of hits while not scoring enough runs. You'd also think this middle-out approach would help in situations where the bases are loaded, but that obviously hasn't been the case this year. In general, the team is doing what the Sox and Menechino are preaching in terms of hitting philosophy, but the results simply are not there because the approach only works if you have a lineup full of consistent hitters. That's something that the Sox simply do not have at this point. 

That being said, it doesn't have to be that way. The Sox don't have the same type of hitter all across the lineup. This middle-out hitting approach benefits some guys while it's seriously hurting others who could be helping this team score a lot more runs. One guy who benefits from the middle-out approach is Tim Anderson. As you might have guessed, he is a monster when he hits the ball the other way. And he hits the ball the other way a lot more than just about everyone on the team. However, his hitting approach basically makes him useless when he pulls the ball. He puts it on the ground a staggering 78% of the time when he pulls and he doesn't have a hit yet on a pulled fly ball this year because he's only pulled the ball in the air 4 times all year. You read that right, 4 times. Sometimes you have to wonder why teams even bother playing a LFer when he's up. The funniest part is that a decent amount of those pulled grounders are probably when the Sox had the bases loaded. TA's numbers this year aren't bad, but something still makes me think that his swing/approach are kind of broken at the moment. On the opposite end, we have AJ Pollock, who pulls the ball a lot. But his timing is so bad that he just ends up rolling over quite a bit. That's why he has a .069 wOBA on pulled grounders. Nobody really hits well on them, but .069 is something else.

Then we get to the 3 guys who I think this middle-out approach is really hurting. When Luis Robert, Andrew Vaughn, and Eloy Jimenez pull the ball, they get results. When your wOBA is over 1.000 when you pull the ball in the air, you should really think about doing it more. What's worse is that for guys like Vaughn, hitting to the opposite field isn't really working. He hits opposite field more than Tim Anderson, but only has a .332 wOBA to show for it. Luis Robert's numbers look ok when he does go opposite field, but he's also popped the ball up a ton when going that way (14 times) and it looks like he's making contact for the sake of making contact. Even in advantaged counts. So he ends up looking like a slap hitter when he looks like Mike Trout when he pulls the ball. Eloy has always had good opposite field power, but that was before MLB decided to deaden the balls even more. In a small sample this year, he has yet to get a hit on an opposite field fly ball. The majority of his power has come when he has pulled the ball. One thing to look at is the pitch velocity that these opposite field hits occur on. Outside of Eloy (small sample), all these guys are hitting pitches slower than the ML average to the opposite field. That tells me that this isn't a timing issue or that they can't pull high velocity. It just tells me that they're doing this on purpose. And if you really think about it, it doesn't make a ton of sense. Why would you sell out the power on the team for some extra singles when the league is doing the opposite and having success? It almost feels like the Sox want to be different for the sake of being different. The problem is that the approach is clearly not working. They're getting out-homered at home and even when they had a mostly healthy team in the playoffs last year, they ended up putting weak balls in play just to make contact. They probably aren't going to make a change at hitting coach this year, but I hope they do something about this in the off-season. As is, they're probably ruining some of these young hitters' careers by having them do something that isn't actually productive. 

TLDR: Fire Menechino

Thank you for the in depth analysis and it's something I've been saying for quite a while.

There is one more thing you kind of brought up but but not specifically about how power doesn't translate going the opposite way.

This is especially true in at home. GRate is not a doubles or triple hitter's park. It has a small OF and small gaps and often with our RHH the OF defense is shifted toward the line so our slower guys can't even get a double out of a hit down the RF line. While the Oppo field approach has boosted batting averages of Vaughn, Robert, ABreu and Tim it does nothing to increase double triples and HR's in our park. Only pulling the ball does that . Extra base hits are what gets you big innings .

As you said it's hard to string a bunch of singles together when guys like Abreu, Vaughn, Tim and Eloy are just as likely to hit into a DP and kill a rally.

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51 minutes ago, almagest said:

Is that a true chase issue or is it an approach issue? Like if teams know the Sox go the other way it benefits them to shift that way and throw the ball off the corner where it's hard to make solid contact. You're also super vulnerable to outside sliders because it looks like the thing you want (outer third fastball) and then you either swing and miss or make bad contact. I would challenge them to not even swing at pitches outside until 2 strikes, and try to hammer anything they can pull reliably. Reset some of those scouting reports - Eloy's two pulled homers against Cleveland were a welcome sight. He got hangers and hammered them.

if it were just chasing on the outside corner perhaps... but they chase in all quadrants.

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Love the analysis, so much of it rings true and what really get's me is that IF that's the direction they chose to go (give up trying for HR's etc.) how can you expect to win by hitting singles with such SLOW players???? Like ok this is your strategy, then you have to get different players....fast, singles hitting players. I don't think you can change a teams hitting approach if those hitters can't do/aren't talented enough to take on that approach.

Lack of speed and lack of plate discipline....we all knew we had this, why can't the coaching staff?

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4 hours ago, chw42 said:

I can see what their thought process was. They went into the year thinking a fully healthy lineup was pretty good at least 1-7. If they can have a hit parade going through that, they'd score a lot of runs and it'd be less feast or famine. In reality, we got maybe 4 hitters doing well in the lineup and the rest was near or below replacement level. This ends up with a few of the 4 guys doing well hitting singles and the rest of the lineup stranding them on base. This is how we end up with a team that has trouble scoring more than 4 runs. They might be able to score 3 runs consistently, but probably not much more than that.

I actually think a change in the ball should encourage teams to pull the ball more. Hard hit balls to CF don't travel as far and have been the biggest victims of the deadened ball. Pulled home runs require less distance and thus less exit velocity and a bigger variation in launch angle. You'd basically have to hit a ball over 100 MPH with a launch angle around 30 to hit a ball out of CF. If you pull the ball, you can probably get it out with an LA between 20-38 with an exit velocity as low as 95. 

Another thought is the significant number of lower extremity and abdominal injuries. This will rob players of power. I wonder if that is part of it. Moncada missed a great deal of time early with the oblique injury and leg injuries later. TA, Robert, Grandal, Jimenez, Engel and Pollock have all missed significant time with leg injuries. Vaughn has missed time with a back injury. 

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