Travis Snider Can’t Hit High Heat. Is it Time to Send Him Down?

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Is it time to send Travis Snider down to the minors? After a few decent games even the despised Lyle Overbay has a better stat line than Travis Snider’s .133 batting average and .524 OPS.

Major League Problem

The one main issue I’ve found in Snider’s game this season is his inability to handle the high heat.

The following 9 section quad chart for all pitch types is taken from an pro scouting report and is not Pitch F/X based. Zones with red borders are considered power zones.

travis-snider-quad.png

According to this Travis can’t hit anything up (with the assumption being that the majority of up pitches are fastballs). He’s also around an MLB average hitter with no power on the outside portion of the zone. Clearly he feasts on the inside and middle portions of the zone.

The same scouting report lists Travis Snider’s percentage of well hit balls (hit or outs) in the ‘up’ location as .000 this season. The MLB average on this scale is .103. Last season Snider’s well hit average up was .038, grading him as a D- in that location.

The concluding 2010 data found after running a half ass four-seam fastball analysis Pitch F/X analysis via the awesome Joe Lefkowitz Pitch F/X Tool confirms that teams are throwing fastballs up (as well as away) from Snider.

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Conclusion: Travis Snider can’t handle high heat

Unfortunately for Travis teams are currently and in the future will be pitching to this weakness.

This raises a couple of interesting questions:

  • Does this lower the perceived value of Travis Snider?
  • Should this be addressed at the MLB or Minor League level?
  • I’m not sure myself. On one hand I’d like to see what Travis can do in the show over the next few weeks. On the other hand I’d rather have him work out any issues down on the farm without his arbitration clock ticking. It’s a tough call, what do you think?

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    • Papelbon owned him with a mediocre fastball up last night that he was nowhere near. It comes with having a long swing.

      I think he can learn to hit the high stuff at the MLB level just as easy as he can at the minor league level. It would be best for the development of his overall game to stay at the MLB level. Sending him down to work on one particular aspect doesn’t make sense for me, especially since he has better coaches in Murphy & Cito at the MLB level.

    • grspur

      Essentially, this isn’t a “hitting” problem but a pitch-recognition problem, right? The Jays are going to want Snider to learn to lay off high heat because no one — save the ultra-quick bats of guys like Gary Sheffield — will ever make a living trying to hit high heat. So this is more of the approach that Cito advocates: sitting on a pitch and a location and eschewing anything else. Where will be best learn this? I would suggest he probably needs to live the experience in the bigs, but I wouldn’t be averse to a quick two-week trip to Vegas to restore his confidence.

      • Great comment, thanks grspur

        I’m not sure it’s a pitch recognition problem. According to the first pitch f/x chart he’s laying off the out of the zone fastballs (green squares).

        The issue is the fastballs in the zone. Cito and others may need to have Travis adjust his swing to where he can at least hit .200 at the top level of the zone.

        I’m on the fence as you are with the MLB vs AAA for tinkering with things.

        A quick check of fellow AL East power hitters has the following having at least two .275+ up-tier zones:

        Longoria
        Pena
        Teixeira
        Arod
        Markakis
        V-Mart
        Hill
        Lind

        Players with one .275+ zone:

        Granderson
        Posada
        Adam Jones
        Luke Scott
        Youk
        Ortiz

        Those are all of the players I searched. Each has at least one happy zone, many two and some three in the upper-tier. Travis’ highest is .182

        Snider can still have success at the MLB level if he can’t hit the high heat, although I think it will be minimized as teams start to pitch up. The old adage is don’t miss with a fastball up. With Travis it isn’t that big of a deal.

        • grspur

          Thanks for the further clarification. That illuminates the situation much more.

          He exhibits a classical hitting profile for a left-hander (loves the balls middle in and down).

          Understanding your point more clearly, I would guess sticking in the bigs is the answer. Feasting on lower quality Triple-A pitching might only paper over the problem. This is supposed to be the season to learn these lessons without expectations.

          • That’s a good point Guy, he probably can’t learn much after demolishing AAA pitching last season.

            To even further ‘illuminate’, even a one hot spot category hitter like David Ortiz hits .152, .297 (with power) and .136 across the top three portions of the zone.

            Teams can pitch to Ortiz up historically but they better not miss middle-up, otherwise it might leave the yard. Travis has no power zones and (at least in the majors) is no real threat anywhere up. Teams won’t have to be as fine when working up in the zone.

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