When Jay Bruce Pulls the Ball Good Things Follow

Houston Astros v Cincinnati Reds

On May 7th the Cincinnati Reds slugging right fielder Jay Bruce was hitting a paltry .246/.296/.345 with a single home run in more than 150 plate appearances. His unintentional walk rate (after subtracting the two plate appearances) was 5.3% and he was striking out in nearly one-third of his plate appearances. Needless to say, Bruce was not off to a good start.

Luck is not to be blamed for Bruce’s poor start due to his .370 BABIP which is well above his sub-.300 career mark coming into the season. Bruce seemed to be too aggressive at the plate, seeing 3.79 pitches per plate appearance.

Bruce’s power outage was likely due to his “all-field” approach. Usually, when a player starts using the entire field, the result is a better triple-slash. In Bruce’s case, it appeared to only give him a few more singles and a higher BABIP. Take a look at his spray chart from Opening Day to May 7th:

Bruce1

As you can see, Bruce was hitting a lot of balls up-the-middle and to the opposite field. He was hardly pulling the ball with any authority, only sending three batted balls to the warning track from center-to-right.

It took until May 8th for Bruce to hit his second home run of the season and this is when his season turned around.

Bruce started being more selective, evidence by the 3.98 pitches-per-plate appearance, and the increased unintentional walk rate of 7.4%, and the lower strikeout rate of 22%. His triple-slash since May 8th has been .293/.349/.626.

As evidence by the .626 slugging percentage, Bruce was also hitting for much more power as he started pulling the ball more. Take a look at his spray chart from May 8th and on:

Bruce2

Huge difference! Bruce has hit nine doubles and eight home runs since May 8th compared to the same amount of doubles and only one homer in nearly 30% more plate appearances from Opening Day to May 7th.

Most players benefit from an “all-field” approach but Bruce is not most players and should continue to pull the ball and display the power Reds fans have come to enjoy from him.

Jonathan C. Mitchell can also be found writing about Football at FieldRush and many different topics at State-Lines. You can follow him on twitter at@FigureFilbert.

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