Hitters vs. Sluggers
In today’s game of baseball there seem to be two types of offensive players. You have the hitter. The player who can hit for a high average as well as drive in runs. They can work the count and draw walks. They can move runners over with the sacrifice or hit to the opposite field. They get on base but don’t necessarily always posses the fan favorite tremendous power.
Then you have the slugger. The player with tremendous power. The player who can drive the ball 400 feet with the flick of the wrist. They can change the momentum of a game with one swing at any given moment. Pitchers avoid them with runners on base and are cautious with the bases empty. They hit for power and drive in runs, but rack up strikeouts and can cripple rallies.
Both contribute to their team in many ways, but which is better?
A quick look inside the numbers quickly separates most players into one of these two categories. There however are a select few that can just do it all. Some of those players are Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Justin Morneau, and Prince Fielder. They hit for the high average as well as tremendous power and are RBI machines.
Some high profile hitters are players like Carl Crawford, Ichiro Suzuki, Shane Victorino, and Kevin Youkilis. They put the ball in play, can draw walks, and move the runners over when their team needs them the most. These players are pure hitters.
Some sluggers you may know are Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Pena. They can drive the ball with anyone, drive in runs, but rack up strikeouts at alarming rates.
A statistic that I find accurately grades the value of a hitter is Runs Created. Of all the sluggers in the league only Adam Dunn (7) ranks in the top ten in runs created. Ryan Howard (38) and Carlos Pena (23) rank further down the list. As for the hitters Carl Crawford (14), Ichiro Suzuki (9), Shane Victorino (16), and Kevin Youkilis (27) rank further up on the list. The previously mentioned freaks happen to all be in the top 6. Pujols and Fielder come in a 1 and 2 while Morneau sits at 4 and Ramirez at 6. They contribute to their team in a ton of different ways offensively.
Personally I would rather take the hitter because of the fact that they can do more. I would take the guy that hits .310 with 10 home runs and 80 RBI, but can move runners over and put the ball in play over someone who hits .260 with 35 home runs, 110 RBI, and 160 strikeouts.
The strikeouts are a big factor because not only are they an ugly stat but they are a rally killer. If you are going to end a rally at least put the ball in play. Strikeouts are also an easy tell for someone who is just swinging as hard as they can. The hitters will shorten their swing with 2 strikes and look to put the ball in play rather than drive it into the gaps. The sluggers however tend to swing for the fences regardless of the situation. Not only is that not going to work out too well the majority of the time it sets a bad example for the younger players.
I guarantee that if any of the before mentioned freaks were to take up the slugger mentality they could put 55-60 balls out of the park every season. The home run is a great thing, but I think it’s time the hitter gets more recognition for his talent than the slugger.
The player, not the band. That would just be gross. (I can’t believe I actually watched a full minute of that video after linking to it…)
Back to the real Hanson, Tommy Hanson. This guy has just been a flat out stud for Atlanta. His fastball usually clocks in at around 91-93 but he can crank it up to 97 when he needs to. He brings a knee buckling curveball at around 73 or so. He also likes to mix in an above average slider with a solid changeup. The great thing is he can throw all four pitches for a strike in any count.
From what I can see the best part about Hanson’s game is that he has such great composure so quickly. He looks like a seasoned veteran out on the mound and I feel that is the most important part of his game right now. Of course his stuff is going to be good, but most guys don’t have the mentality to play the game. Hanson has appeared unfazed even when faced with the stacked lineups of Boston and New York.
Against the Red Sox Hanson threw 6 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits. In his previous start he threw 5.1 shutout innings against the Yankees. These are not easy lineups by any means. They are freaking stacked.
Tonight Hanson had a streak of 26 consecutive scoreless innings broken by Adam Dunn‘s 300th home run. (Hanson went 7 innings allowing just the 1 run by the way.) The kid makes one mistake and it has to be against an all or nothing slugger. Regardless, he pitched a fantastic game and got stuck with the no decision when Mike Gonzalez brought the suck.
The only issue I have with Hanson so far is his command. It was much better today against the Nationals but then again, it’s the Nationals. Hanson walked just 1 batter in today’s game which is a huge improvement over recent starts. In 36.0 innings pitched this year Hanson has 18 walks. Hanson has only struck out 23 batters so far but his dominance is shown with his 2.25 ERA. So far Hanson is 4-0 and I think if he continues his dominance he will be an easy choice for Rookie of the Year.
Till next time,