My admittedly non-expert thoughts on our offensive issues

As an Arkansas fan, the way Baum is oriented, I’m used to the wind blowing IN from Right field about 60% of the time. I like to see our power guys have more favorable conditions, so I don’t like it; but it is what it is.

So, I typically get a little giddy when the wind is blowing out - in whatever direction…to right, to left, to centerfield. I think of ALL those pitches we barrel up that get knocked down by 20 mph winds and die on the warning track, and think we’re gonna bust out with a 6-8 HR game.

However, I’ve noticed that it seems when the wind is blowing out, our offense “blows” even worse. Why?

Can’t claim that this is true, but IMO I believe our guys…who are already indoctrinated with a “big bang” offensive philosophy…also get “lathered up” when they see conducive wind conditions…and it makes them even more focused on hitting “the big one”. They know that if they hit the ball even “decent” and get it up in the wind, they’ll have an excellent chance at a HR.

As a result - and I’ve watched this the past 3 or 4 games that we’ve had such conditions - our guys (can’t say all…but most of them) seem to adjust their swings to more of an uppercut motion than the “stay flat through the zone” philosophy that most good hitting coaches evangelize. So, what does that lead to? Topping the ball (weak grounders)…pop ups (lordy…we’ve seen a LOT of those, especially with men on base) and strikeouts (ditto).

I’m not a baseball expert, but I am a detail oriented fan that watches every play and every pitch/play of every game closely. I’m just wondering if anyone else has noticed the same?

If you/we are noticing such things, I’m pretty sure we have some coaches noticing as well.

The swings haven’t changed at all, that is way they are taught,to launch the ball in an uppercut fashion. That’s why you see all the home runs, as well as the strikeouts. I have said many many times, that we take too many pitches trying to get the pitch count up which is what DVH loves to do.
When you have as much power as we do you need to make the pitcher pay for every pitch he leaves in the zone and yet we time and time again let a perfect home run pitch go right by. Michael Turner is the worst at it even though he is a very good hitter, he could turn on quite a few pitches that he lets go by. When the wind is blowing out like it was yesterday the pitcher is going to do his best to keep everything away from The hitter so they cannot pull the ball up into the wind, that is what I saw. We also foul off so many great pitches that could be absolutely crushed, Moore is seeing a steady diet of pitches in on the hands because he stands right on top of the plate, he’s going to have to back off a little bit so he can extend his hands of some. I expect you will see some lineup changes pretty soon, Gregory needs to be in the top of the order rather than batting needs to be in the bottom of the order because he strikes out a lot.We are just not clicking on all cylinders and anything other than defense ,that will have to change if we’re going to do anything.

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Are there more ground balls, strikeouts or walks during games where the wind is blowing out? 30000 view, but I would expect pitches to be throwing at bottom of zone to keep the ball from being elevated in those wind conditions. Good question to ask coaches because they track every pitch thrown by pitchers and to the batters.

Same thing but on those windy days are seeing more of the #1 pitchers or the balance of the staff. Old saying in baseball is you have momentum until you face the next day’s pitcher so better pitchers can command lower strike zone and keep ball in play more.

I am pretty sure hitters get juiced when they see the wind blowing out and that affects the plate discipline they have or don’t have but you have to get a good pitch to drive so thus focus on pitching.
Food for thought.

You are incorrect on one thing. DVH does not NORMALLY encourage most of his hitters to take lots if pitches in order to get the opposing pitchers’ pitch count up.

NORMALLY, he encourages his hitters to be aggressive at the plate. If they see a pitch the can drive, he wants them swinging.

Nothing us absolute, but that is his basic philosophy.

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Also, we got beat by a good team on the road. We are still one of the best teams in the country

I don’t think we are going to start making wholesale changes.

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Well we’ll just have to agree to disagree because I hear him talking about driving the pitch count up all the time. The majority of our hitters take the 1st pitch that are often right down the middle of the plate on and most of them will take the pitch when they have a 2-0 count so if they’re told to be aggressive and attack a pitch they can drive then they clearly are not listening to him, because they waste a lot of pitches that might could be hit hard and get behind in the count to where the pitcher will throw them anything but a strike most of the time wanting them to Chase. I watch other teams that hit the ball much better than we do and that is a major difference between what we do and what they do.

I realize it’s tough to win on the road against good teams but the only time this team is really been beat is by Stanford when we had no chance all the other games we have left all kinds of people on base with runners in score and position, gave away the game with walks ,hit batters, stuff like that. I think we can have a great team but we’re going to have to start hitting the ball much better consistently with runners on base if we’re going to go very far.
We may not make any changes certainly not wholesale changes but I would not be surprised at all that Gregory is moved up to the top part of the order because it makes perfect sense… He gets on base all the time which would be great for the people behind him and he will hurt you if you leave a pitch up in the zone.

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Just speaking for myself, I’m not just talking about one game.

As I said in the OP “Can’t claim that this is true, but IMO I believe our guys…who are already indoctrinated with a “big bang” offensive philosophy…also get “lathered up” when they see conducive wind conditions”.

I just think they try even harder with the wind blowing out. I don’t have the stats, but we’ve probably had 4 of 5 games where we definitely had a helping wind, and I’d be we may have hit one or two HR in those games combined. We rarely seem to take advantage of it. At least, that’s the way it feels.

Certain pitches they may be trying to upswing on but those lazer shots that that hit the wall or are HR’s with not much trajectory don’t come from an upward swing.

I don’t know how many games we’ve had with a good wind blowing out but we probably hit more than one or two in those games combined. I do know that pitchers throw the ball differently in those kind of conditions. They are not going to challenge hitters like they do when the wind is blowing in.

We have not done a good job of knowing the strike zone this year. We lead the nation last year in walks and this year we swing a lot of pitches we shouldn’t and we take a whole whole lot more crushable pitches than we should.

I still think we can get to where we need to get to but it needs to start happening very consistently starting this weekend.

Arkansas has played with favorable winds quite a bit lately. Half (23) of the team’s home runs have come in the last eight games, including four homers at Florida.

Other than the Sunday game against Mississippi State and the Florida game Saturday, I think the offense has been performing well enough to win lately. Seven runs should be enough to win a game.

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Matt, do you think our teams take a lot of pitches to get our opponents’ pitch count up because “ That’s what Dave likes to do?” Or, do you think DVH prefers a more aggressive approach?

Van Horn addressed this at the last Swatter’s Club:

“We’re definitely not telling them not to swing. I don’t give the take a lot…I give the take when we’re down three and we’ve got two on and the guy just walked the batter before him. They’re going to take unless it’s a power hitter and we’re going to try to tie it up. There’s a time to take, but it’s mostly on go. We want them to swing with intent. We don’t want little baby swings. We want them to hammer it.”

My take: Arkansas’ hitters are taught to “hunt pitches” that they can drive, based on a pitcher’s tendency. That will result in some hittable pitches going by, but I also think for the most part the hitters on this team are patient and don’t chase a lot of pitches out of the zone. That isn’t the case for everyone, but for most. When you don’t chase pitches, it either causes the pitcher to stay in the zone or go to a lot of three-ball counts trying to nibble on the outside. This team has done a good job of driving up pitch counts the second time through the order. That happened twice to the starters at Florida.

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Matt why do you think so many of our guys take the first pitch??which a lot of times is right down the middle of the plate because the pitcher does not want to fall behind in the count. This puts them behind in the count and allows the pitcher then to be in control instead of possibly making him pay for a pitch that could possibly be hit out of the ballpark. I watch a lot of SEC baseball and the teams that are hitting much better than we are, are much more aggressive on the first pitch and in hitters counts like 2-0.

I love a batter who has great plate discipline and knows the strike zone but when the pitcher puts the ball in the middle of a plate I want them to pay for it!! I know we sure do when we put one in the middle of the plate.
I just think our team batting average is down somewhat because we’re behind in the count a lot which allows the pitcher to throw more off speed and breaking stuff which is obviously much harder to hit.

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I don’t know the answer. On Saturday, what I saw was Arkansas swinging at everything and not getting the pitcher’s pitch count up in the early innings, then taking some first pitches beginning with two outs in the third.

Arkansas had 42 at-bats Saturday and swung at the first pitch 11 times, mostly in the first, second and third innings. In the 31 at-bats without swinging at the first pitch, the Razorbacks’ hitters got into 1-0 counts 19 times, and got on base in 10 of those at-bats that went 1-0. Arkansas had 13 base runners total.

Thanks Matt I really don’t know the answer either… I just always been kind of confused on why we take the first pitch so much with the power that we have. I would think we would be trying to hammer every pitch down the heart of the plate as DVH says he wants them to. I just see it as missed opportunities possibly put quite a few runs on the board. I think every pitcher tries to get ahead in the count so they can then try to make the hitter Chase pitches. When they fall behind then the batter knows they have to come in there with a strike but we take a lot of those pitches when we’re 2-0 too. I would just like to see as much more aggressive with mistake pitches that can be driven and see if that doesn’t help our averages and more power.

I know what you’re talking about, and I feel your pain…I have some of the same observations.

However, there is another side to the coin, and that’s that the soft under-belly of many teams is their bullpen. While we frequently see top-line pitching from SEC starters, if we can get them off the mound, the task becomes easier. Not always, but frequently.

So, pitch count becomes an important stat to track. I know I’m not breaking any new ground with this declaration…but I do get that it is important to get 15-20 pitches (or more) on the arms of these starters each inning, so that even if they’re being effective against us, they’re out after 5 or 6 innings.

I absolutely love to watch Gregory at the plate. He isn’t our best hitter, nor does he hit the ball the farthest (although he’s got a lot more pop in that small frame of his that it would appear he would have). But he’s a master of “working” the pitcher, NOT swinging at pitches out of the zone, drawing walks, getting his by the pitch and - oh year - getting as many clutch hits per at bat as anyone on the team…all while seeing more pitches per at bat than anyone else on the team.

There’s got to be some sort of happy medium between always swinging at the first pitch, and never doing so. Often, our approach reminds me of an undisciplined investor who buys and sells “off of his guy” and frequently ends up chasing the market rather than riding it.

I think the whole key is to know the strike zone very well. I think you need to be super aggressive in the zone because the pitcher needs to pay for the mistakes that he makes. That is what we are not doing a lot we are not making them pay for crushable pitches,we let them throw a cookie down the middle of the plate that could be possibly hammered out of the ballpark but instead we are now behind in the count and now they’re going to throw you everything to make you chase. I guess I believe in the QUALITY of the pitches seen over the quantity. I would rather knock the pitcher out of the game rather than let his pitch count build up. The better hitting teams I have seen are very aggressive and if you make a mistake against them you are going to get hurt.

youdaman, you make hitting sound so easy.