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Gardy announces retirement

Other Baseball Today, 09:21 PM
This is an AP article lifted from the StarTribune web site.DETROIT — Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire announced his immediate retirement bar...

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I almost posted this in a front page thread but decided it needed it's own. I know we are in a playoff push with mixtures of optimism and...

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I see that Yelich is still effected by a broken kneecap from last year and has a longterm contract now through 2028. It always raised an...

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Photo

Perfecting his swing: A look at Max Kepler's start to 2020

Posted by Martin Schlegel , 04 August 2020 · 1,423 views

minnesota twins max kepler
After his two-homer game to begin the season, Max Kepler said he wanted to be more aggressive at the plate. On Tuesday, in an extremely rare 1 p.m. game, Kepler showed a patient side to his approach, drawing four walks in five plate appearances but no at-bats.
Normally 10 to 12 games into the season, there’s at least some pause as to whether we’ve seen enough to make a judgment on how well someone is playing.
This isn’t your normal season.
By now the importance of each game in this 60-game season has been overstated. Each game means more to the team that wins. Well, here the Minnesota Twins are 11 games, 9-2 overall, into a 60-game season. Kepler has played in 10 of the team’s 11 games. To put in perspective, roughly six more 10-game stretches and the regular season is over.
Now is it not too early dissect Kepler’s performance without it being “too small of a sample size” relative to the length of the season.

Kepler’s Scouting Report
Last season, Kepler made headlines by hitting five home runs in five consecutive at-bats against current Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer. In April, Bauer released a video breaking down Kepler’s at-bats.

Bauer shows early in the video what the scouting report was for pitching Kepler. Throughout the video the scouting report remains the same and he references it many times.
Bauer mentions the report says anything above the line must be a fastball. Anything below the line and on the outer half of the plate must be off-speed. Additionally, do not throw anything to Kepler in the circled area.
Max Kepler FB Nuke Zone


Capitalizing on Missed Locations
It would appear that scouting report remains accurate as Kepler has turned on thigh-high fastballs on the inner portion of the plate.
His first and second home runs, both off Lucas Giolito, were near identical fastballs. Giolito missed his spot on each pitch. Wanting to stay away with the fastball, he missed right in the zone Bauer alluded to as a danger zone to Kepler.
Kepler took Cleveland pitcher Mike Clevinger deep for his third home run of the season. Similar to Giolito, it appeared as Clevinger’s target was low and away but he missed over the plate just above the knees.
Later in the Cleveland series, Kepler lined a breaking ball to right field for a double off Aaron Civale.
After the victory on Opening Day, Kepler said in The Athletic, “you’ve got to rely on yourself and your confidence to get a good swing off.”
Whether it is a fastball or off-speed, lefty or righty, Kepler has been more aggressive in early counts. Via Baseball Savant, his first-pitch swing percentage is 67.4 while his overall swing percentage is 43.9. He’s also making solid contact more frequently, hitting 13.3 percent solidly, nearly double than each of his previous two seasons (7.5 percent).
When Kepler makes solid contact he’s rotating the hips toward the pitcher first; keeping a stiff front leg and his arms level to the ball at about the same angle.
MaxKeplerswing

On all of Kepler’s hits in 2020, and even some of his outs, he’s had all three parts activate in his swing.
On Tuesday against the Pirates, Kepler showed how locked in he was by seeing 28 pitches in five plate appearances which included four walks. He saw nine strikes and missing only one. On the only pitch Kepler put in play, again his hips rotated straight toward the pitcher while his hands followed on the same angle as the ball.
Kepler has swung the bat with a purpose, even if he’s been more aggressive. In the last week his OPS has skyrocketed from a mere .667 to a sizzling .943.
Taking a stroll through MLB’s vast video library, when Kepler struggles his hands come through too early he tends to make weak contact or swing and miss completely.
In past seasons, Kepler was too passive. Last year, he broke out at the plate by being more aggressive and hunting fastballs low. This season it appears he's realized what pitches he can drive and in the process, keeping his swing consistent.
Clearly he's confident in his swing though as he has been the Twins second best hitter to start the season.

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