Saturday, March 14, 2009

Travis Snider Commentary from The Mockingbird

While putting off studying for upcoming exams, I was reading up on some of the Blue Jays young players, including Jesse Litsch and Travis Snider (I really like Litsch, but am mystified by how he does the things he does with the things he has and does not have).

Litsch wasn't exactly an athletic looking kid when he came up through the minors, but according to one unreliable chart I found, his weight has become an ever increasing issue.  

I have no clue how much he weighs now, but the following picture certainly shows a hefty fellow with a solid mid-section.

Anyways, none of that really matters.  What matters is that Litsch is a very talented pitcher who is still finding his way.  His closest comps include Fausto Carmona, along with a very young Greg Maddux.  Good stuff.

Anyways, the whole point of this post was to highlight a comment about Travis Snider (another not-so-svelte Blue Jay) I found at The Mockingbird, a blog written by someone who goes by the tag halejon.  It's a well written blog, with lots of stuff about the Blue Jays, pitch analysis, and what seems to be random thoughts and commentary on logos and other details.  

In a post titled Spring Cleaning, halejon has this to say about Travis Snider:  

Can Travis Snider control the strike zone?

It’s just swell that Snider is mashing the ball in batting practice, and better than nothing that can take a rusty piece of trash like Justin Lehr over the wall in his second game, but let’s not kid ourselves - this is not the real test, and his respectable cup of coffee last year should not silence those very real doubts that he’s going to be ready to contribute in a significant way at the age of 21, with almost no experience above AA.

It’s just a different game up here - opposing staffs are going to cut him apart in the video room (or with that fancy dancy pitch tracking stuff I keep hearing about) and he will struggle until he figures out how to adjust back and not fall for all the cute little tricks major leaguers do that make them major leaguers and not the powerful but inexperienced arms you’ve seen so far. A good way to figure out how easy that is going to be is his walk to strikeout ratio; it’s why guys like Chip Cannon don’t project very well - tons of K’s and no walks are a sign that you’re just flailing up there with no real control over your at bats, and occasionally running into a mistake fastball that won’t exist at a higher level.

Coincidentally, high K numbers in the minors have been the only caveat about Snider so far (although he’s been so young at every level it’s kind of silly). Not that strikeouts themselves are such a big deal, but for what kind of hitter he projects into. Anyway, forget the monster jacks off pitchers who everyone in the park knows are only throwing fastballs right now anyway - what we want to see is control and discipline. So far it’s been all contact and warning track drives. He’s screwed!

I pretty much agree with everything halejon has to say on the matter, and I've been trying to point these details out for over a year now, but perhaps in different words.  Snider just does not have the power to immediately overcome the strikeout rate he is going to put up in his first couple of years at the major league level.  I'm going to try and write up a post detailing the relationship that K% and IsoP have, and what IsoP it takes at certain strikeout rates in order to succeed in the majors.

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