Can the Twins Fix Mitch Garver?
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsLast season’s breakout was supposed to merge into Garver being one of the team’s most potent weapons in 2020. So far this season, that hasn’t been the case. Garver has struggled at the plate. His exit velocity is in the 45th percentile, his hard hit % is in the 27th percentile, and his K% is in the 1st percentile. It’s tough to ignore those numbers, so what has changed with Garver.
One of the biggest adjustments for opposing pitchers is the lack of fastballs Garver is seeing this season. Last year, he saw fastballs 56% of the time and this year the total has dropped to 51.2%. This means Garver is seeing a more frequent allotment of offspeed pitches. Last season, he saw offspeed pitches in 12.5% of at-bats, but now he is seeing them in 18.7% of at-bats.
While Garver might be seeing a steady diet of offspeed pitches, breaking pitches seem to be the biggest issue for him this season. During the 2019 campaign, his Whiff % on breaking pitches was 34.1%, but that number has jumped to 58.3% so far in 2020. He has struck out less on offspeed pitches as his Whiff % has dropped by 15.1%.
Garver is striking out at a much higher rate than his career numbers and that might be one of his biggest problems. Before this season, his highest K% in any full season was 24.2%. Entering play on Monday, he had a 45.5 K%, which ranked him in the first percentile among big-league hitters. He isn’t making consistent contact and that is certainly hurting his overall numbers.
Another aspect impacting Garver this season could be the turnover in the pitching staff. A majority of the starting pitching staff is new and that can put extra pressure on the backstop. He needs to be the leader behind the plate and this likely means learning the new tendencies of the starting pitchers. Could this be impacting his offensive approach at the plate?
There are some good signs among Garver’s offensive numbers. His exit velocity (91.7) and Sweet Spot % (33.3) are nearly identical to last year’s totals. He’s only put nine batted balls into play, so a bigger sample size could help to show that last year’s numbers weren’t a fluke. Garver might also be able to focus more on his role with the current Twins pitchers and then adjust his approach at the plate.
So far this season, Garver has been ahead in the count in 12 of his 22 plate appearances (54.5%). Last season, he finished the year at 41.5% of his plate appearances where he was ahead in the count. If he continues to be patient, the results will follow, especially with his exit velocity and Sweet Spot %.
How do you think Garver can break out of his early season slump? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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