Is Wil Myers’ still in the minors just to delay his arbitration eligibility? Maybe not. It might also have to do with his high strikeout totals and his complete disregard for the way the Rays want their players to approach hitting.
In a recent column for NewsObserver.com (via WatchingDurhamBullsBaseball), Myers explained that he strikes out a lot because he “is not a good two-strike hitter at all.” In Myers’ mind, his job as a run producer is to drive the ball and he refuses to shorten his swing with two strikes.
“I’m not looking to ‘choke and poke’ up there with two strikes. I’m looking for a ball to drive still. You always hear ‘choke and poke’ with two strikes, but as a middle of the order guy, one of the guys that drives in runs, you’re not really looking to just slap the ball around, just put it in play…If I have a runner on base with two strikes, I’m looking to drive the ball, even with two strikes. I’m looking to put the ball in play hard somewhere to drive the run in.”
The result is Myers has struck out in 29.6% of his plate appearances this season, the highest rate of his career, and not a good sign for his future in the big leagues. Joe Maddon just said yesterday on the MLB Network that he wants his young hitters to balance their strikeouts and walks. Myers has struck out 50 times and walked just 21 times.
But as a run producer, is Myers held to a different standard? Not according to his own manager. When told of Myers’ comments, Charlie Montoyo was described as having the “expression of a frustrated father”…
“We teach the same thing everybody else teaches…We stress it all the way from rookie ball to the big leagues: You have to shorten your swing with two strikes, try to put the ball in play. You would think it makes sense, man, I don’t want to be striking out, there’s no chance for anything. No error, no infield hit or nothing. I wouldn’t say nobody cares (about striking out). Nobody likes striking out, for sure. It’s just the approach: some people are just taking the same hack day in and day out with one strike or two strikes…You have to keep preaching it. You have to say it a thousand times, maybe a thousand and one times until they start listening. Just because a guy doesn’t do it, that doesn’t mean you’re just going to say, never mind. You’ve got to keep saying it, keep working on it.”
So what now? This is an easy fix, but one that will only work if Myers is willing to change. But if he continues to be stubborn, he might be in Durham a lot longer than many of us imagined.