The Phillies announced in early October that assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner had resigned. Then Joyner changed his mind and announced that he would stay. But now he’s leaving again.
Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that Joyner has stepped down from his role as assistant hitting coach in Philadelphia — for real this time — so that he can “pursue other opportunities.” Presumably those are baseball-related opportunities.
Joyner was hired in October 2012 and spent just one season with the Phils. It’s not the assistant hitting coach’s fault, but Philadelphia had the 27th-ranked offense in the majors in 2013, scoring more runs than only the Cubs, White Sox and Marlins.
Joyner, now 51 years old, was a .289/.362/.440 hitter over a 16-year big league career.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com suspects Micky Morandini might be Joyner’s replacement.
“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.
Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:
Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?
There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.
As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.