It's no secret that Justin Smoak has been one of the hottest hitters in September. As of Thursday his wRC+ is a staggering 201 for this month, leading the league ahead of the likes of Joe Mauer, Ryan Braun and Adrian Beltre. Dave Cameron already wrote a piece on how Smoak is complicating things, and I couldn't agree more. I think before he went on this tear most had already written him off. It felt like the consensus was to keep him around but start window shopping for other options. I still think that's the case: a hot September doesn't guarantee a productive 2013.
I thought it'd be fun to look at how his plate discipline has improved, if it improved at all. I hopped over to Texas Leaguers and picked out two sets of images. The first are pitchFX visualizations of Justin Smoak's swings and pitches taken in May, and the others are his swings and pitches taken in September. First, May:
I chose May and September for a couple reasons. The choice of September is pretty obvious, but I wanted to isolate May because it was one the more productive months he's had this year, and I'd rather look at data from when he at least contributed to the offense rather than floundering about. If there's any sort of correlation between his seemingly new-found success, maybe we'll find it here. Now, for comparison, here's his charts for September:
As you can see, he's been much more selective when swinging this month. The cluster of pitches he's swung at in September is not as dense in the lower part of the zone as it was in May. He's still chasing pitches, sure, but the results have shown that when he gets a pitch to hit, he's stinging it. Likewise, looking at the pitches-taken charts, you can see that he isn't taking as many pitches in the zone in September as he was in May. It seems like he's starting to see the ball better than he was earlier in the year. It's a small sample size no doubt, but it's an encouraging small sample size.
There was never really a Justin Smoak bandwagon, so I can't jump off it just yet. If anything this makes the roster decisions at first base a bit more difficult going into the off-season. Smoak is a professional, and he wants to play and contribute at the major league level. I was just as down on him as anyone else, but if he continues to produce at the beginning of 2013 and shows consistency, I'll be the first to start the Justin Smoak bandwagon.
|Copyright 2013 Prospect Insider, Inc. | Created by AQ Central|
Prospect Insider is optimized for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome