Just Relax and Concentrate

It’s a frustrating time for Cardinal Nation.  The Cardinal offense as a whole is struggling, and many of us can’t figure out what the problem is.  That is often the case with slumping periods, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to them.

There are many factors that could be in play.  Weather, for some players, can affect hitting.  Early baseball season tends to be chilly and often damp and windy.  These are not ideal conditions to hit in.

Some players take longer to get their timing back after the offseason.  For players who have switched leagues in the offseason, different ballparks and different pitchers than they are use to can create difficulty. (See:  Granderson, Curtis; Peralta, Jhonny; and Bourjos, Peter).

In some cases, opposing pitchers may be pitching to hitters differently.  Baseball is a game of adjustments.  Pitchers see tendencies of hitters, whether it is a weakness for the breaking ball, or difficulty hitting the inside fastball, or hitting an off speed pitch.  Those pitchers adjust accordingly and those hitters are going to see a lot more of those difficult to hit pitches.  Hitters must therefore adjust; lay off the breaking ball outside the zone, or adjust the hands and swing to hit the inside fastball.  The hitters who are more all-around hitters and can hit the pitch wherever it is thrown (See:  Molina, Yadier or Adams, Matt) tend to do better early in the season.

Sometimes teams will run up against a string of very good pitching, or very good defense, that makes scoring runs more difficult.  Luck plays a part as well; a hitter can hit the ball hard, but if it doesn’t travel into a hole or a gap, it is likely to become an out.

Whatever the reason for the offensive struggling, work, adjustment, and time usually sets thing to right.  Moving hitters around in the lineup sometimes helps.  For the Cardinals offense, one who has shown difficulty stringing hits together to score runs, perhaps placing the best hitters together in the lineup rather than spreading them out might help.  I have long been an advocate for putting Molina in the second spot in the lineup.  Speed is not the most important thing for a 2 hole hitter; that is a myth.  Getting on base is the most important tool, and Molina has that in spades.  Molina’s current OBP is .398, the highest of the starting 8 players.  Following Molina should be a guy with extra base hit potential, such as Holliday or Adams.  The idea of putting a struggling hitter in the 2 hole to help him get pitches to hit sounds good in theory, but in practice it seldom works, especially when run scoring is a problem.  I have espoused my Molina batting second theory multiple times, but have found little support for it among my peers.  Perhaps it’s because it is different than what people are used to; entrenched habits can be hard to break.

In any event, I have always found time to be the great equalizer.  I know it is something I preach constantly, and perhaps to excess, but that doesn’t make it less true.  The offense will get better with time.  I truly believe that.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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