Smoak vs Clement: Plate Coverage

 ............ a little T-Rex action for yer?  Somebody stapled his elbow to his ribs.


=== Difference Two:  Plate Coverage ===

Almost the day that Jeff Clement was drafted, Inside Pitch gave me the bad news.  This kid can't see the pitches, he said.  Looks like Thome, sees like a football player.

Clement had short arms, a huge chest, no leverage, a muscled sledgehammer swing, and (1) he couldn't hit anything on his hands.  He also (2) couldn't see anything bendy.  

(3) Guess what happened when something bent AND moved to his hands?   One of the worst pitch type values in the history of F/X.  He had a lifetime run value of -3.08 on sliders and -2.42 on cut fastballs (which are hard sliders).

It was tragic watching Clement try to swat an offspeed pitch on the insider third.  Spec points out that Clement is not on Pittsburgh's 40-man.  He'll probably never be on anybody's, ever again, because he has demonstrated that there are several kinds of ML pitches he just cannot hit.

Clement has a -5.46 run value on forkballs and splits.  Lifetime!  He has a terrible run value on changes.  And on curve balls.  He's plus on fastballs.

You just saw it, boys, as extreme a case of Pedro Cerronitis as Dr. D has ever seen it manifest.


Justin Smoak, on the other hand, has demonstrated a capacity to hit every pitch in the book.

We have seen him turn around 97 MPH fastballs for home runs.  We have seen him pull in his arms, T-Rex style, to rip jam pitches down the line.  We've seen him take outside pitches 400 feet over the LF fence.  Smoak's HIT tool would be 70, plus-plus, if he were a center fielder without power.

Here is an SSI article to that effect, after Colby Lewis tried six different pitches against him, the sixth of which Smoak ripped off the CF boards.  Here is a G-Money analysis of Smoak's huge power the other way, which is not a thing that you will accuse Jeff Clement of having.

Clement had a kludgy swing; Justin Smoak has one that will someday produce a LeRoy Neiman poster.  I'm particularly taken with the gentle, understated way in which his hands move backward to create the load.  The smoothness of the acceleration is just beautiful.


A pretty swing isn't a scout's cliche, only.  You consider golf, and the value of a smooth, leveraged swing is obvious.

Think of a great hitter, and the odds are that he had extra-class smoothness and leverage, with compact load.  Griffey?  Ichiro?  ARod?  Ackley?

On the other hand, here are Gutierrez and Figgins standing flatfooted, weight on the front leg as the pitcher winds up, taking ugly little flat arm swings...

Teddy Ballgame was the reductio ad absurdum.  Sweet swings aren't the last word, but they are some of the words.


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