Foot Problem or Zone Problem? | The Process Report

Foot Problem or Zone Problem?

Evan Longoria is off to a slow start in July. The Rays’ third baseman is batting .143/.294/.143 with just four singles in 28 at bats. He has six walks, but also has eight strikeouts. His recent performance has left some looking for a reason behind the slump.

Some speculate that Longoria’s on-going battle with plantar fasciitis may be causing the pain in production. The same injury has also bothered Albert Pujols this season. Joe Maddon begs to differ. He believes that the problems are less about Longoria’s foot and more to do with his approach.

Maddon recently spoke about explanding the zone following a Rays’ win on July 5th:

“It kind of started again in Houston. I really thought that we are not expanding our strike zone. I saw the same thing pretty much again tonight — making the other team’s pitchers throwing the ball over the plate. We’re just not expanding our strike zone. I think that’s a big part of our success. We scored 12 runs and 8 runs in Houston and then this game tonight again. It’s primarily based on that. For the most part we’re not swinging at balls right now.”

Comparing his swing rate from earlier in the season to this most recent stretch of games, Longoria has indeed expanded his zone a bit.

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strike-zone (15)

The league has mostly pitched Longoria to the outer half of the plate. For the most part, he has kept his swing disciplined. Instead of chasing, he has patiently waited to attack pitches on the inside corner.

In July, Longoria has started to extend his swing, reaching for the lower and outer regions. According to the data from ESPN Stats & Info, Longoria had previously swung at 18.1 percent of the pitches outside the strike zone. That jumps to 28.6  percent thus far in July.

The fix to Longoria’s slump seems simple enough. That said doing so will take effort. But by eliminating the swings on pitches out of the zone, it should force the opposition to either throw the ball over the plate or face one of his teammates with him on base.



10 Comments

  1. Chad Dickey wrote:

    Is this the new DRB?

  2. Dunston's Arm wrote:

    Good analysis, but I think there is an additional angle to condier. Have you considered that the cause/reason Longo is going out of the zone more is injury. If the foot or IMO a leg issue is bothering him, then he may feel the need to protect more away instead of selecting the balls he can drive. He only has one HR since June 22nd. If leg hurts he may not feel he has the power to drive them and is instead rolling over a lot of pitches. Just worth considering if the cause of bad stretch is expanding or if he is expanding due to another factor.

  3. peteypab wrote:

    It looks like a zone problem to me. Especially in the last at bat in Friday’s game against the Astros when Longo took called strike 3 on the outside edge to end the game. He knows he’s been going outside the zone and I think that’s why he laid off that pitch that was right on the edge. I really think he is overthinking his approach at the plate right now as opposed to just reacting to pitches in his normal manner. He’s swung through plenty of pitches in his wheelhouse. Hope the break helps him settle down.

    • Jason Collette wrote:

      In that Astros game, he was clearly sitting on a curveball from Veras and that’s a problem. Maddon has said a few times he’d prefer the hitters sit fastball and adjust to the breaking ball so one doesn’t get locked up like that. Those fastballs are the pitches he was hitting the other way with authority until recently. It may be the foot, but expanding the zone has nothing to do with his foot.

  4. […] nights ago, “I am looking for one pitch and am getting another.” This is a problem we first highlighted in early July and will have a follow-up on this in the coming […]

  5. […] one month ago, we highlighted Evan Longoria’s issues at the plate; most notably, his expanding strike zone. Those same […]

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