Let's Talk About Logan Forsythe
Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY SportsIf there is one thing you should remember from this article it is that Logan Forsythe rarely swings the bat. Over the last two seasons, Joe Mauer offered at 36 percent of pitches thrown his direction. The only person who swung less than that was Logan Forsythe. He deemed just 34 percent of pitches worthy of his lumber. So when a rare event like a Logan Forsythe swing transpired, you would want results that were worthy of the wait.
He is sort of the infield version of Robbie Grossman -- likes to gamble that the pitcher can’t throw two consecutive strikes when down in the count. The Dodgers, however, were not fans of this passive approach of letting very hittable pitches scurry by.
If there is a second thing you should remember from this article it is that Logan Forsythe did hit a healthy number of home runs, once upon a time.
In 2015, Forsythe hit 17 home runs with the Rays. He followed that up with another 20 in 2016. His play was enticing enough that, when the Twins balked at trading Dozier in 2017, the Dodgers flipped a solid pitching prospect for Forsythe instead.
However, upon his arrival to Los Angeles, he stopped hitting for power. There were various ailments cited -- a toe injury in April 2017 and a shoulder injury in April 2018 -- that zapped some of his power potential and limited his time on the field.
While those are all factors for the power outage, there is also a component of his swing that changed significantly between 2016 and now. Watch the clip of his swing in 2016 (right) compared to 2018 (left):
Both swings are against 93 MPH fastballs away from left-handed pitchers, thrown in plus-counts when a hitter should be hunting. For the most part the swings are similar but Forsythe has toned down his pre-launch bat movement since 2016.
The added movement before the launch equated to more bat speed. It's simple: less bat speed, less exit velocity.
For whatever reason -- a coach’s instruction, a tip from a player, his own development and feel, etc -- Forsythe has removed this element of his swing. In doing so, his average exit velocity has dropped, his average launch angle has decreased, and his ability to drive the ball to right field for power has declined as well (he hit 10 home runs to right in 2015-2016 and has zero since).
There is a lot to like about Forsythe’s ability to get the barrel to the ball. He’s a barrel turner (as opposed to someone who hacks down). Watch as his hands turn the barrel rearward before rotating forward to contact. This gets the barrel on plane longer and allows for him to stay back longer instead of drifting toward the pitcher.
The other thing to appreciate is that Forsythe actually has a two-strike approach -- something that isn’t always shared by his contemporaries. In two-strike situations Forsythe tones down, eliminating the leg kick and long distance hand load, to try to wait as long as possible and adjust on off-speed pitches:
Forsythe rarely chases breaking balls out of the zone. According to ESPN/TruMedia’s data, since 2017 he’s reached on just 14.3 percent of breaking balls outside of the zone whereas the average hitter has done so on just over 30 percent. For comparison’s sake, Joe Mauer has even chased after 23 percent of breaking balls in that time. Forsythe will swing through some (8 percent, same as Mauer) and the results aren’t great when he does make contact (a .588 OPS vs .657 MLB average) but with baseball’s increasing reliance on nasty breaking balls, being able to wait back and keep from chasing after those pitches is rare skill set.
Since coming over to the Twins, Forsythe has been some sort of bizarro Shannon Stewart and has been a spark plug for the offense. The offense, of course, isn’t going anywhere except home in October but Forsythe’s play has at least kept the team from improving its draft position.
This isn’t meant to read as a sales pitch to the Twins to try to retain Logan Forsythe. A week ago, Seth Stohs asked “What To Do With Logan Forsythe” and the prevailing sentiment seemed to be “drive him to the airport”. When he was acquired, it was accepted that Forsythe was a placeholder until the end of the year. That should probably stay, but night after night he’s piled on the hits and has given the front office, at the very least, a mild case of the considerations.
Truthfully, this is probably more of a sales pitch for contending teams interested in an additional bench bat or utility player. If someone is willing to surrender a prospect or project to have a high-contact right-handed bat on the bench for the playoffs (there’s got to be a team interested in a player who can put the ball in play in a pinch) the Twins should absolutely move him. What’s more, Forsythe would also come with untapped power potential if someone could convince him to rekindle his 2016 swing.
If there is a third thing you should remember from this article it is that it ended.
- Sconnie, PDX Twin, nclahammer and 2 others like this