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Maybe Guti Cares Too Much

Franklin Gutierrez
You'll have to trust me that a post about Franklin Gutierrez's hitting was in my head before I read this post on Lookout Landing. I like to try to space out my posts a little, that's all. Still, since discussion on Guti now looks like a reaction, I thought I should have the courtesy to link to another, higher profile post about the same thing.

Gutierrez got off to a great start, but cooled off and then some. He is significantly worse than last year, and part of the team-wide power outage.

Searching for answers, I found some interesting trends in Guti's batted ball data:



YEAR     LD%     GB%     FB%     IFFB%     HR/FB%
200919.444.735.87.611.5
201016.942.340.713.46.7
Career17.943.333.811.111.1

Gutierrez is hitting balls differently this year than at any point in his career. The changes aren't drastic, but noticeable. There seems to be a concerted effort to hit more fly balls, which is generally a good thing for any hitter with some power. However, what really stick out are the final two columns - Franklin's infield pop-up and home run rates. One has doubled from last year, while the other has cut in half, and unfortunately the wrong ones have gone the wrong ways.

I've never faced anything close to Major League pitching, but I've hit more than my fair share of whiffle balls in the backyard. At some point, I start swinging for the seats (and by seats, I mean the plants in the surrounding gardens). Inevitably, I start trying too hard, and I know I'm trying too hard when I start popping up pitches that I expected to drive.

What if Guti, on some level, is like me in my back yard? I doubt he's blind to the team around him. He got off to a hot start, and eventually got moved to the third spot in the lineup. Maybe Guti saw the lack of power on the team, along with the place he got bumped to in the batting order. It would be natural for Franklin to feel some pressure to hit home runs, given how things unfolded.

All I am saying is that Gutierrez's batted ball data suggests to me a hitter that is trying too hard to crush the ball. He isn't swinging wildly at bad pitches (I didn't include his walk rate, but it's just fine), but seems to be swinging too hard at pitches he can handle. If I were Guti's hitting coach, I would urge him to relax, and focus on hitting the ball hard up the middle. That might be all it takes to turn a bunch of those pop-ups into hits.