=== Hope Springs Eternal, Dept. ===
In Tacoma this summer, Michael Saunders had ripped up the PCL, again, posting a tremendous OBP of .441 in the second half. With his SLG of more than 50%, this floated his OPS dangerously close to 1.000.
Even better, the scouts proclaimed him an all-fields hitter, capable of blasting doubles home runs all over the park. Fixed now? Well, if so, the M's have even more of a CF traffic jam than we'd already feared... :- )
Saunders back up today to give an exhibition of his newfound skills. Dr. D flicked on the Pos-I-Tronic Mainframe and hoped for the best. It's a lot of fun to watch this guy play baseball, especially defensively in center field, and most of us are rooting hard for 'im.
=== The Good ===
Sanders took just a couple of pitches, swung at one ... and yep. Sure enough, Saunders had gone down, re-tooled, and emerged a changed man. In a couple of ways, at least.
He was noticeably willing to let the ball drive deep into the zone before launching the bat. For example, in the 8th inning, LHP Horacio Ramirez flung a 92 mph fastball into his hands, and Saunders let the ball get almost 100% to the catcher's mitt before lofting a fairly deep fly ball the other way, to LF.
Because Saunders was comfortable waiting on fastballs, his timing was skyscrapers beyond where it had been earlier. He wasn't "in between" on one pitch that I saw, waiting calmly for 80 mph offspeed pitches and directing them to straightaway LF, not down the line.
His pitch recognition looked great. He visibly watched the ball in its early arc, then organized his movements toward the speed and location. Without a doubt, Saunders had made adjustments in Tacoma, and he'd made big ones.