Beltre in the two hole

DMZ · June 3, 2006 at 2:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Beltre split-o-meter
Small sample size caveats apply

as #2 .357/.400/.357 (14 ab)
as #5 .102/.170/.122 (49 ab)
as #6 .252/.312/.357 (115 ab)
as #7 .308/.379/.346 (26 ab)

April .189/.284/.233
May .264/.302/.355
June .250/.250/.250 (4 AB)

One of the things Bavasi said at the first feed was that Beltre was effective in 2004 in part because he was spreading the ball – and you can see in his 2004 hit chart, he did just that, though he did pull most home runs and, oddly, went opposite-field for most of his doubles.

2005, there’s not as many hits to look at, but there is a pronounced pull: when he got hits, they were usually yanked somewhere between center and right.

To my point, though — the team’s struggled with Beltre since he arrived. Some of it’s trying to work on going to all fields. Some of it’s been his fairly clueless pitch recognition, as Dave’s harped on.

Batting Beltre #2 doesn’t make any sense if you’re trying to put together a lineup that scores more runs, because it means he goes up more. But we’re all for creativity and experimentation here at USSM, and here’s the thing: if Pentland and Hargrove think that putting Beltre at some arbitrary spot in the lineup, like #2, will cause him to make changes to approach or help him solve his pitch recognition issues, I’m all for it.

So I’m going to stop cracking on this until it’s clear that it’s working, or that it’s not. Hargrove’s comments on why he wants Beltre up are about 50% go-getter nonsense and 50% plausible, and maybe it’ll pay off.


14 Responses to “Beltre in the two hole”

  1. joser on June 3rd, 2006 2:32 pm

    Well, a number 2 hitter is supposed to be hitting towards the gap between first and second because Ichiro (or in later innings, possibly Yuni) is on base, right? So I suppose that could change his mindset a bit.

    And, as others have commented, if Hargrove is going to insist on using the #2 guy to bunt so often it’s much better to be wasting Beltre’s at-bat than Lopez’s. Unless, of course, batting second somehow helps Beltre remember how to hit again.

  2. Jim Thomsen on June 3rd, 2006 2:56 pm

    I agree, DMZ. Sometimes you have to make things as simple as possible. To wit: When something doesn’t work, try something else. And don’t decide it doesn’t work until it actually doesn’t work.

  3. patnmic on June 3rd, 2006 3:19 pm

    I think Beltre will see more strikes in the 2 hole especially if Lopez keeps hitting well. This should cut down on his swinging at bad pitches just in the fact he will see less of them.

  4. John in L.A. on June 3rd, 2006 3:39 pm

    One thing Beltre has gotten better at is swinging at the low and away pitch. You can see pitchers still working on the April scouting report and him not biting. At least not so often.

    Now the smart ones seem to be working on the scouting report that says throw him a first pitch strike, because he almost never swings at the first pitch anymore.

  5. Jim Thomsen on June 3rd, 2006 4:09 pm

    Here’s what scares me the most about today’s Times story about Beltre … you could remove the name “Beltre” from them, sub in the name “Cirillio,” and these stories would look virtually identical to the ones written in 2002 and 2003 about our former third baseman.

    The only thing that tempers my fear is that Cirillo was 32 and 33 then … and Beltre is 27 now. There’s plenty of theoretical upside.

    But psychologically, he sounds like a carbon copy of Cirillo.

    “In getting loose, relaxing, Beltre is virtually battling his own nature. He simply feels everything too much, last year the pressure of coming in as a savior, this year the pressure of simply not doing that last year or to this point now.

    “I am too sensitive, and I know that’s not good,” Beltre said. “I think too much about what I’m going through. I feel the pressure.

    “I came here to do something, to help this team turn it around, and instead I’ve been part of the problem.”

    and ….

    “First place for the team might seem as far away as a .300 batting average for Beltre. He knows how much baseball is a daily grind, how the mind as much a part as the talent in dealing with it.

    He regards himself a grinder. He comes to play, thus his reluctance to leave third base, no matter how much his hamstring may need a break from the turf or his mind a rest from the churning.

    “I want to be successful for the fans, but as much for my own pride,” he said. “I know what I came here for and I want to do it.

    “I have too much pride for this. No one but me knows how badly I want to show what I am, a good player, a clutch player, a player his team can count on.”

  6. joser on June 3rd, 2006 4:28 pm

    Well, if Beltre is just like Cirillo I guess the solution is to trade him and wait a couple of years. Cirillo’s line right now:
    .377 .411 .522
    Of course that’s in just 69 at-bats so far this year (only 9 strike-outs though, for about half Beltre’s SO rate).

  7. Jim Thomsen on June 3rd, 2006 4:36 pm

    #6: That could be a great loophole in Beltre’s contract:

    “Hey, we signed you for five years … but we didn’t say WHICH five years.”

    That would be kind of funny.

  8. Asotin on June 3rd, 2006 5:17 pm

    #7: MLB needs to implement a european soccer type loan system. Then you could just loan Beltre out to a National league team for a couple of months. Then bring him back if/when he gets his eye back.

  9. plivengood on June 3rd, 2006 6:24 pm

    I am with joser’s first postv – the only logical reason to bat Beltre second is the expectation that a #2 hitter is supposed to hit the ball to the right side, and that maybe that expectation will cause Beltre to change his approach. I can’t see any other reason to bat him second that makes sense, or is anything but basically random.

  10. Aaron on June 3rd, 2006 6:37 pm

    The theory is he is likely to see more fastballs with Ichiro on base in front of him. Add in some better protection with Lopez batting third, and it makes a great deal of sense to hit him second … in a conventional wisdom sort of way, whether it works or not in the real world is yet to be seen.

  11. BelaXadux on June 3rd, 2006 7:42 pm

    Re: Beltre’s pattern in ’04, actually it makes a lot of sense. When he pulls, he’s definitely going for the seats, so if he got ahold of the pitch that’s where he’d get his HRs. Now, even back then pitchers were attacking him low and away, but the word in that offseason when and after his signing was being mooted was that Adrian made atypically good contact with pitches there that year. If you make solid contact with a pitch down and away, it’s hard to lift it enough for the seats, but realistic to drive it into the alley or down the line for the 2B. Hence, HR=inside pull, 2B=outside drive. Since Adrian’s arrive here at Safeco, both last year and this he has been very poor at making contact with the down and away pitch, and tied himself in knots playing (and losing) guessing games on what pitch was coming next.

    I definitely think that the #2 batting assignment is geared to keeping Adrian bought into a hitting plan where he forgets about the HR and just hits the pitch where it’s thrown, and as such is a solid idea for salvaging Beltre’s season.

  12. David M. on June 4th, 2006 5:14 am

    Also, if his problems are mainly psychological (and I’m not sure they are, but when someone with manifest skills falls apart, that theory seems plausible), then changing his mind-set by putting him in a completely different part of the batting order might help some. Obviously his homerun last night gives us some hope that he might start hitting closer to say, 270/320/480 – which is not great but would be a world of improvement for him.

    Seems that there’s both more and less pressure in the #2 hole – you’re a more significant part of the batting order (more pressure) but you also (in the Mariner’s system) do some situational hitting (hitting behind the runner, etc). Plus, don’t discount the idea that he’ll see more fastballs than sliders in the dirt, especially with Ichiro (19 steals, 2 cs) on base – and Ichiro is getting on base at a ridiculous clip right now.

  13. argh on June 4th, 2006 7:31 am

    I think we have to start giving these fragile-flower head cases an MMPI as part of their pre-trade physical screening.

    “Well, psychologically he looks like he can hit for power to all fields and is going to be a human vacuum cleaner in center field. Just don’t let him have any sharp objects around small children.”

  14. Ralph Malph on June 4th, 2006 3:39 pm

    Beltre’s comment on the post-game show the other night supports the idea that batting in the #2 slot will change his approach for the better. He was asked if the changed had helped him and he said definitely it had, because he was getting better pitches to hit and because in the 2 slot his job was to put the ball in play. Batting lower down he had to swing harder.

    Memo to Adrian: Swinging harder wasn’t working. Put the ball in play.

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