Saturday, 8 March 2008

Sheer Wackiness, National League Style

What do you do with a kid who put up a .859 OPS in AAA before ripping along at a .321/.360/.548 line in his September callup, keeping in mind that his sweet left-handed swing is perfectly tailored to the short right field porch of your nifty little ballpark? You totally revamp his approach at the dish? Really?

This is just horrible, horrible news for Joey Votto, a young Canadian first baseman who looked to have a bright future in Cincinatti. Ok, I'm being overly dramatic, he still does... is reporting that Dusty Baker believes the earth is flat, walks don't count for nuthin', and you better grip it and rip it cuz getting K'd looking is worse than five swingin' Ks!


Dusty Baker says the game's current emphasis on on-base percentage is taking away from something else hitters need to do: swing the bat.

"A lot of this on-base percentage is taking away the aggressiveness of some young kids," he said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Most of the time you've got to put handcuffs on a young guy to keep him from swinging. [The young players are] playing good, real good. I'd like to see them more aggressive."

"I really, really hate the called third strike. I hate that. You're guessing and you ain't ready to hit."

The topic came up when Baker was discussing his desire to see Joey Votto, who has twice led his minor-league teams in walks, get more aggressive at the plate. Baker says the same goes for Adam Dunn, too.

"He doesn't have to tell me," Dunn said, according to the report. "I know I [need to be aggressive]. It's hard for me to swing at that first pitch. But that may be the best one I get."

Votto is getting the message, too. "I am an aggressive hitter," he said, according to the Enquirer. "It just took me a little bit of time, a few at-bats, to get comfortable up there. And it just takes me a little longer to get my timing down, to get my swing ready to go. I'm not one of the guys who can just pick up and hammer fastballs. It takes me a little while."

Adam Dunn has hit 40 homeruns in each of the past four seasons and can be pencilled in for an OPS+ of about 140. That means there's clearly something wrong with him, too.

Baker's brand of folk wisdom could only survive in the National League, where in-game strategy and lineup construction appears to have changed little since the pre-1968 era. He previously raised eyebrows for comments about, you guessed it, the evils of clogging the bases.

When your manager starts openly professing his desire to implement an approach that will drastically reduce run scoring, it's time for media types to start raising the alarm. We'll do our part by getting the pitchforks and torches, ok?

At least Dunn gets to walk at the end of the year.

-- Johnny Was

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