• Kevin Long: Yanks Want Patient Batters – But Not Those Just Looking For A Walk

    Posted by on April 10th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Via Wayne Coffey

    “That’s exactly why Nick [Johnson] was signed – to get on base,” says Kevin Long, the Yankees hitting coach. “Jeter’s gift is staying inside the ball. Alex’s gift is his power. Nick’s gift is his eye and his selectivity at the plate.”

    An astute eye is a quality that Long believes hitters are born with, a hybrid of uncanny vision and a steadfast patience – a stubborn refusal to chase baseballs off the plate.

    And don’t think a player’s reputation for having such an eye doesn’t help. “An umpire told me once, ‘If Bobby Abreu doesn’t swing at a pitch when he has two strikes, it’s probably a ball,'” Long says.

    Still, as much as Long prizes the patience of both Johnson and Nick Swisher, who led the Yankees in walks with 97 last year (which put him on base far more than Robinson Cano even though Cano hit 71 points higher), and as much as Long works with his hitters to know the strike zone, he doesn’t get carried away with it.

    “You don’t set out in a major-league season saying to a guy, ‘We’re going to teach you how to walk,'” Long says. “It just doesn’t work that way.”

    Long agrees that on-base percentage is over-rated to a point. “You can’t have a team full of guys who are too patient and go up there just looking to walk,” he says.

    Good thing it’s not 1968…or else Long would probably throw Mickey Mantle off the team…

    Comments on Kevin Long: Yanks Want Patient Batters – But Not Those Just Looking For A Walk

    1. OldYanksFan
      April 10th, 2010 | 11:47 am

      1968 was probably the worst offensive year in modern MLB history. Yaz led MLB with a .301 BA, only 6 players posted better then 30 HRs, and D. McLain posted 31 Wins.

      That year, his last year, with both legs totally shot and barely able to circle the bases, Mickey put up a career worst line of .237 / .385 / .398 / .782.
      An excellentt OBP certainly, as pitchers still were careful with Mickey. Yet those numbers were good for an OPS+ of 142.

      Give you an idea of the difference in offense between then and now.

    2. lardin
      April 10th, 2010 | 5:27 pm

      I understand what Long is saying. You want a guy whos not afraid to walk, but would rather get a hit. With two outs and a runner on second, you dont want the guy whos looking for the walk. You want the guy whos looking to drive the ball up the middle. But at the same time, you dont want that person swinging at four pitches in the dirt.

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