Luke Scott & the Gangster Hack | The Process Report

Luke Scott & the Gangster Hack

Luke Scott has overcome a lot of things in his short career with the Rays. Scott’s first season with Tampa Bay was a disappointment filled will too much time on the disabled list and too little production. The Rays declined his option after the season leaving him free to sign elsewhere. The separation was short-lived and Scott re-signed with the Rays in February.

A clean bill of health was the beacon of hope in Scott’s re-signing. More than a year after shoulder surgery, perhaps the designated hitter would indeed hit. The hope was dimmed before the season started. Scott strained his calf in the spring and missed the 25 games of the season. Once activated, he hit .221/.321/.345 with seven extra-base hits in his first 134 plate appearances.

An arbitrary endpoint on paper, but things turned around for Scott in mid-June. Since June 14, he is hitting .341/.414/.670 with 16 extra-base hits in 99 plate appearances. Though the date seems superficial in choice, June 14 marked the first time he appeared in left field in nearly two years. He started in left the next two days before resuming his duties as designated hitter. Perhaps Scott would have turned things around regardless of role. Or perhaps Rays’ manager Joe Maddon knew what he was doing with a emotional player who outwardly displays frustration and disappointment

Aside from the mental adjustments, Scott also tinkered with his hitting mechanics including an altered, more closed batting stance. During the first portion of the sample, he showed the ability to hit fastballs and breaking balls with a hump. He struggled, however, with off-speed pitches and breaking balls with sharp movement away. With the amended swing, he is showing better plate coverage and now feasting on these pitches.

The one type of pitch Scott has been unable to take a bite of is the knuckleball: specifically that of R.A. Dickey. Coming into Sunday’s contest, Scott was unsuccessful in finding the rhythm of Dickey’s dancing pitch. He began the day 0-10 with two strikeouts against the reigning National League Cy Young award winner. All 10 outs were recorded with a knuckeball.

Batting an illness all series, Scott could not have felt any better after his first two plate appearances against Dickey. He struckout on four pitches in the first encounter before flying out on the first pitch in the second. Each out charged to the knuckler. Prior to at-bat in the sixth inning, Scott had a lengthy chat with Maddon.

As the story goes, Maddon wanted to pump Scott with some extra confidence. With a man on first base in a 1-1 tie, the Rays’ skipper told his DH to take a “gangster hack.” What exactly is a gangster hack is to be determined, but add it to the Maddon lexicon right next to Process Report favorite, “B-Hack.”

Like the first two, this at-bat did not start well for Scott. He found himself down 0-2 nearly as soon as he stepped in the box. He then fouled off two knuckleballs including one off the plate and out of the zone. Dickey temporarily lost the feel for the pitch, tossing three straight balls that were not competitive. On 3-2, Scott fouled off what would have been ball four and a minor victory.

At this point, Scott had seen five straight pitches out of the zone. With the pitch being so unpredictable, there was no telling where the next one would be. As luck would have it, Dickey would find the zone on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.Scott was able to wrap his bat around the pitch on outer half of the plate and crushed the 73-mph offering in the fifth deck of the Rogers Centre. The gangster hack gave the Rays a 3-1 lead and sent them on their way to a series sweep.

Data courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info.

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