December 19, 2017

Expect More Fly Balls In 2018

Tim Hyers, the Red Sox's new hitting coach, wants to bring the Dodgers' fly-ball philosophy to Boston in 2018.
We've always wanted, as hitters, to hit the ball hard and get on base and slug to drive in runs. But now, with all the technology, we can start to put a number on it. If you hit a ball 15 to 30 degrees in the air and you hit it 95 to 100 mph, it's going to be a productive swing. ...

Every hitter has their own unique swing, and it's my job to stay within the framework of where they're at because they're successful for a reason. But that doesn't mean that you don't make adjustments or you're not trying to help them be better at what they're doing.
The Red Sox ranked 22nd in the majors (and 14th in the AL) in fly-ball rate, according to Fangraphs. And everyone knows they finished last in the majors in home runs. One example of the connection: Xander Bogaerts's average launch angle dropped from 11.3% in 2016 to 8.2% last year, and he saw a decline in both his home runs (21 to 10) and slugging percentage (.446 to .403).

However, a FiveThirtyEight article from last season states: "Over the last three years, just as many hitters have suffered by increasing their fly-ball rate as have benefited."

Manager Alex Cora has an open mind about using Craig Kimbrel more often in the eighth inning next year.
[T]here's going to be certain situations that you're going to see him probably earlier than what people expect. So if he has a song [for] the ninth inning, we'll get it in the queue up there, and they will play the music in the eighth. ... [W]e'll talk to him. I think that's the most important thing. We'll show him.
The Red Sox signed Mitch Moreland to a two-year contract worth $13 million. So while Boston is passing on Eric Hosmer, the Red Sox still seem very interested in J.D. Martinez.

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