Chasing Reid Brignac | The Process Report

Chasing Reid Brignac

Coming into Wednesday’s game, Reid Brignac offensive performance could only be described as underwhelming. The lanky shortstop “produced” a slash line of .211/.250/.211 through his first 40 plate appearances. Just to show how quickly these small sample sizes can change, he raised his average to .244 with two-hit night against Chicago; however, he has not registered an extra-base hit.

Even the most vocal supports of Brignac did not expect him to be an offensive sensation in 2011. Considering the man he replaced at shortstop, he did not have to be in order to be an upgrade. That said, with some improved plate discipline and the ability to hit for a decent amount of power, Brignac could easily be one of the better offensive players at his position.

Thus far, Brignac has displayed some weird trends at the plate. As of Wednesday morning, he walked in 5% of his plate appearances while striking out in just over 18% of them. The walk rate is about where you would expect it to be considering his track record. On the other hand, that strikeout rate would be an improvement over a season ago. In the meantime, keep in mind that we are about a month or so away from these rates becoming large enough to put merit in.

Looking at pitch selection, Brignac is still chasing pitches out of the zone quite often in the early portion of the season. A fastball in the upper reaches of the zone and changeups around the ankles have been tough for him to lay off. In terms of the off-speed pitch specifically, he has swung at nearly half the changeups thrown his way and whiffed over 40% of the time. Meanwhile, he has cut down the swings and misses on other pitches.

A big problem for Brignac has been falling behind in the count. Pitchers are throwing a first-pitch strike to him nearly 80% of the time. Their pitch of choice has been a fastball which should come as a surprise on the first pitch. While Brignac might be prepared for the fastball, the location (letter high) is what has him falling behind .

In terms of his swinging profile, Brignac is swinging at a similar number of pitches as last season. This is good because swing rate tends to be the first set of data that stabilizes. With a similar amount of swings, he is making quite a bit more contact; especially on pitches inside the strike zone. On the other hand, a lot of that contact has been on foul balls. In his final two at-bats on Wednesday, he hit four foul balls in the span of nine pitches. Some may consider this a step in the right direction when you think back to the amount of empty swings we witnessed last season – or if you believe the number of fouls are a sign of just missing on a pitch.

As R.J. pointed out, pitchers will continue to exploit Brignac’s weaknesses until he gives them a reason to change their approach. Right now a high fastball or a changeup near the dirt is about all you need. Although there have been slight improvements in terms of whiffs and strikeouts in limited samples, there is more work to be done on chasing pitches that are generally unhittable. If Brignac can adjust his approach on high heat and low junk while continuing to make solid contact on those balls that fall within the zone, the extra-base hits that have been missing (as well as a better overall approach) should not be far behind.


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