When the Twins acquired Delmon Young, there were two major question marks that came with him. The first was his off-the-field “problems” (which have so far been a complete non-issue). The second was the fact that he has ZERO plate discipline. The hope was that we’d help him improve that aspect of his game, waiting for his pitches, swinging at better balls (ie, in the strike zone), and taking walks. All of that would drive his OPS up. Well, Gardenhire has other ideas (about 2/3 of the way down):
“I watched Torii Hunter for like 10 years,” Gardenhire said. “You think Torii hasn’t swung? You know what? There’s nothing wrong with swinging. That’s why they give you a bat. This kid’s 22 years old. He’s got everything ahead of him. So let it fly. Learn as you go. He’ll learn the strike zone.Oh great. It’s good to see Gardy taking an active role in wasting the natural abilities of yet another young slugger. If the Twins tried to teach Delmon some plate discipline, he just might start to take some walks and punish pitchers for leaving a ball in the zone. Instead, he’s going to be Torii Hunter 2.0, except without the above average CF defense.
“To start telling a guy to just ‘take, take, take,’ sometimes that’s just not human nature. You don’t get to the big leagues, and you don’t become a big league player, by ‘take, take, take’ and get walks. Some people are paid to drive in runs. You think David Ortiz goes up there to walk? He’s paid to drive in runs. He walks because we walk him. On purpose. And that’s what’s going to happen to Delmon as he goes along, too. Right now, they know he’s going to chase a little bit, but that’s OK. I’ll take my chances with him letting it fly.”
Perhaps the best part of that quote, though, is Gardy’s complete misunderstanding of David Ortiz as a hitter. Ortiz takes walks because teams are too afraid to throw it in the strike zone. Why? Because he punishes balls that are in there. Why? Because he doesn’t flail at balls he doesn’t like, or ones that are out of the zone. Which, of course, is why he draws a lot of walks. Incidentally, his transformation from “crappy, useless player” to “most feared hitter in baseball” happened immediately after he escaped the swing-destroying tutelage of Gardy and the Twins. (When the Red Sox said: “Bunt? But you’re a big strong guy! Kill the ball. And be patient. If you don’t like it, swing at the next one.” I guess that’s a hitting philosophy that works. Just like anecdotal evidence, statistics, wins, World Series rings, and common sense all seem to agree on. Good to see Gardy’s complete ignorance of that.)
Here’s hoping someone slaps Gardy hard enough that he realizes that this is not how you teach talented young hitters to become feared sluggers. It’s how you teach scrappy little dorks how to scratch their way into the big leagues for a cup of tea and a quick designation for assignment (or, if they’re on the Twins, a multi-million dollar deal … but that’s a story for another day).50 comments