Last evening I was at a meeting so I missed the start of the series finale between the Padres and Brewers. Out of the house, and on the go, it was twitter that I turned to for game information. I first checked the game during the bottom of the 2nd inning and I was immediately greeted by tweets of, “That’s so Padres!” and “What is Gyorko thinking?!” I’m paraphrasing here, but if you were on twitter, then you know what I’m talking about. But why the painful rejoinders (aside from the usual reasons) from Padres fans on this particular play?
- Well, the bases were loaded, with zero outs.
- Chris Denorfia had just walked on four pitches from Brewers’ pitcher, Marco Estrada.
- Jedd Gyorko came out swinging at the first pitch and lined in to a double play.
Gyorko, what were you thinking!? Man, that’s so Padres! Look I did it too.
Shortly after the play I saw a tweet, that questioned Jedd Gyorko’s approach at the plate. This observation/accusation led me to an important inner-monologue that I shall sum-up in the following way: CONTEXT!
What was the context of Gyorko’s AB, aside from the bullet points listed above?
In this game situation there are additional factors to consider. Such as:
- Prior to Chris Denorfia’s 4 pitch walk how did the previous two batters (Alonso and Quentin) reach base? Did they too walk on 4 pitches? Did they walk at all?
- If they didn’t walk did they reach base after ABs where Marco Estrada looked particularly wild?
- What kind of a pitcher is Marco Estrada? Has he walked a lot of batters this year? What about historically?
- Did Jedd Gyorko chase a pitch that was a marginal strike or out of the strike zone entirely?
These questions are important to ask. And I’m not just talking about the overly critical fans – these are also questions that Jedd Gyorko must ask (aside from the last one) and ultimately the answers he finds will determine his approach.
- Prior to Chris Denorfia neither Carlos Quentin or Yonder Alonso had walked (both reached base by single). Unless the guys went all-Vlad-Guerrero out there, then we can assume (you saw it, I didn’t) that Marco Estrada was finding the plate.
- So Estrada had allowed two singles prior to the walk. Quentin saw two pitches, singling on the second one, and Alonso came out first-pitch-swinging and singled to RF. Marco Estrada allowed two hits and had thrown zero balls before trying to get really fine with Chris Denorfia.
- Who is Marco Estrada? He’s a 29 year old Mexican who has a BB/9 of 1.8 in 2013. In 2012 it was 1.9. If you want a comparison, Edinson Volquez’ BB/9 is currently 3.6 in 2013 down from 5.2 in 2012. Edinson Volquez walks guys. Marco Estrada, not so much.
- Jedd Gyorko made an out. It wasn’t a dribbler to the pitcher. It wasn’t an outside pitch that was topped to the SS for an easy 6-4-3 double play. It was a line drive right at the SS. Unfortunately Yonder Alonso is not the greatest base runner and was doubled off of 2B.
So did Jedd blow it?
The results don’t look good in a box score and they certainly didn’t look good to those following on twitter. But did Jedd Gyorko have any reason to believe that Marco Estrada would not be able to fire strikes with the bases loaded and zero out in the bottom of the 2nd inning? No, I don’t think so.
In fact, I think Gyorko should have been expecting a strike and at that time it’s simply a matter of whether or not it’s “Jedd Gyorko’s pitch – his strike“. It sounds to me like Jedd Gyorko got what he wanted and hit it hard but unfortunately the results weren’t there. But with that type of approach . . . they will be.
If you go to twitter look at @woedoctor’s timeline. He also weighed-in on the matter.
I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM where I offer random thoughts 7 days a week