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Entries in Toronto Blue Jays (32)


Could Francisco Pull a Bautista?

The question was posed on our facebook page whether Philadelphia Phillies' outfielder Ben Francisco could have similar success as Jose Bautista by implementing the same hitting techniques that the Blue Jays slugger did last season.  Successful hitting takes into account a whole bunch of different things.  It's nearly impossible to predict whether one batter's style could work for another player.  Jose Bautista clearly had the ability to produce power numbers at the plate prior to his 2010 season; he just needed to tweak his approach and the rest was history.

Whether Ben Francisco can make a similar adjustment and begin to produce better power numbers is anyone's guess.  Although, it is interesting to note that Francisco and pre-2010 Bautista do have similar numbers.  In 2009, Francisco hit .257/.332/.447 in 459 PA.  Bautista: .235/.349/.408 in 404 PA.  Their 2009 heat maps are also very similar.

(click to enlarge)
Bautista's new plate approach made him a terror to right-handed pitchers, producing a 1.030 OPS.  Francisco has, for the most part, fared equally against righties and lefties over the last 3 years (.753/.789 OPS respectively). Francisco does seem to generate most of his power on pitches inside, a quality shared by Bautista.

Ben Francisco 2008-10

(click to enlarge)

Adopting the hitting changes Bautista made working with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy may help Francisco.  But again, one style of hitting does not work for every player.  Francisco is more of a free swinger than Bautista, and as a result, his walk rate is much lower.  In the last 3 years, Francisco has chased 5% more balls out of the strike zone than Jose Bautista.  As a result, he's put up a .328 OBP.  Changing his swing may help generate more power, but Francisco will need to improve his ability to identify strikes in order to raise his on base percentage.  Otherwise, pitchers will avoid throwing close to the plate knowing Francisco is more likely to chase pitches out of the zone.


Tough Hill to Climb

Aaron Hill hit only .205 for the Toronto Blue Jays last season, .081 points below his career average going into the season.  His line went from .286/.330/.499 in 2009 to .205/.271/.394 in 2010.  While the 100 point drop in slugging percentage was certainly a problem, the drop in OBP was almost entirely due to a lack of hitting - his walk rate actually increased 1.4% in 2010.

Going into the season Hill had a career BABIP of .307;  in 2010 it hit a career low .196.  When we look at his splits we see that Hill had a ton of trouble against left-handed pitching.  His BABIP was a ridiculously low .124, indicating he may have been a bit unlucky.  However, his overall line drive percentage was 8 percentage points below his previous league average last season.  Against lefties, his line drive percentage was only 2.3%, and he had a .118 batting average on ground balls against southpaws.  So while bad luck may have contributed, Hill wasn't getting many solid hits either.

Aaron Hill vs. LHP (click to enlarge)
Basically, Hill wasn't making very good contact on anything lefties threw at him last season.
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