June 15, 2018

Batting Against A Starter For The 2nd And 3rd Time, Betts Is Other-Worldly

Alex Speier loves writing about Mookie Betts. I remember back in 2014, when everything came together for Betts in AA, Speier was working for WEEI.com. His regular "Feats of Mookie" updates were wonderful to read, both to hear how Betts was destroying AA pitchers and for Speier's enthusiasm and awe.

In today's Globe, Speier notes how much more dangerous Betts is against a pitcher the more times he sees him in a game. The lesson for opposing managers could not be more obvious: NEVER let your starter face Betts a third time.
Betts has been "merely" excellent in his first plate appearance of the game. He's hitting .302/.375/.628 in his first glimpse of a starting pitcher. But in his second and third times, he is posting considerably higher numbers: a .429 average and 1.349 OPS in his second exposure to the pitcher, and a .439 average and 1.344 OPS in his third. ...

"As he [Yefry Ramirez] went through the lineup [on Wednesday], I just watched him and see how he pitched guys and formed a plan that way," said Betts.

That sounds simple, but what Betts is doing is absorbing information on the fly, processing it, and turning it into a plan of attack. His pitch recognition permits him to sit on pitches outside the strike zone.

More often than not, in a matter of a few pitches (and with the benefit of pregame work studying video and heat maps of a pitcher's attack zones), Betts is capable of dissecting his opponent for tendencies, recognizing not only what he throws but where the pitcher is likely to throw it. ...

Betts vs. opposing starters
Betts's performance based on the number of times hes seen a starting pitcher in a game.
Career      AVG    OBP    SLG
1st time   .270   .326   .469
2nd time   .340   .394   .576
3rd time   .305   .354   .494
2018        AVG    OBP    SLG
1st time   .302   .375   .628
2nd time   .429   .468   .881
3rd time   .438   .500   .844

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