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Article: The Big Switch: Chris Colabello

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#21 jay

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 12:46 PM

Billy Beane has been doing this for years with AAAA positionless sluggers. He hit paydirt with Jack Cust but mostly he just clogged his roster with guys that couldn't field and didn't hit much either.


On last year's Oakland team alone, there were plenty of successful examples.

1B Brandon Moss -- Reached AAA in 2007, one bad MLB year in 2009, finally started again as a 29 year old in 2013 with a .859 OPS on the season.
SS Jed Lowrie -- Reached AAA in 2007, but could never catch on with the Red Sox. Had an okay year with the Astros in 2012 before being acquired by the A's for 2013 and putting up a .791 OPS as a 29 year old.
3B Josh Donaldson -- The A's own AAAA story, reached AAA in 2010. Finally broke out in 2013 at age 27 as a starter and All-Star with a .883 OPS.
OF Josh Reddick -- Stuck between AAA and MLB since 2009 before being acquired by Oakland for 2012. Down year in 2013, but 32 homers in 2012.

2014 -- the year of the Handsome Cola!

#22 jay

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 12:51 PM

Colabello hasn't pulled anything at MLB level yet (B-Ref says 4-22 with no XBH in his career, including a scant 0-for-2 this year so far -- closest he's come I guess is just left of center, which still counts as "up the middle"). Only 10.7% of his career AB have had pull outcomes (infield, outfield, outs,... everything pulled), and it's not trending up. Even Mauer has pulled 15.1% of his AB in his career, Ichiro is 17.3%... and these are left-handed AVG hitters. Can you imagine a RH power bat with a far lower pull rate than them?

Again, love Cola, just setting out what I want to see before I can really believe: pull the ball! (Although if he can keep leading the league in RBIs in the meantime, I will enjoy that too. :) )


Those results, almost exclusively from last season, don't seem relevant at this point. His positioning last year allowed him to hit inside pitches the other way and barely flail at outside pitches. If you hear Chris talk, he'll tell you he's always been a pull hitter and he went to that approach when he realized he could still hit the ball far the other way. It was clearly successful in AAA, but not MLB.

Anyone can see the noticeable change he has made regarding his location in the box. I think we need data from this year before assuming he's truly the type of hitter that you're saying.

Edited by jay, 07 April 2014 - 12:55 PM.


#23 jay

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 12:56 PM

Here's the link to the story: http://www.startribu.../253299911.html

#24 spycake

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:01 PM

Those results, almost exclusively from last season, don't seem relevant at this point. His positioning last year allowed him to hit inside pitches the other way and barely flail at outside pitches. If you hear Chris talk, he'll tell you he's always been a pull hitter and he went to that approach when he realized he could still hit the ball far the other way. It was clearly successful at AA and AAA, but not MLB.

Anyone can see the noticeable change he has made regarding his location in the box. I think we need data from this year before assuming he's truly the type of hitter that you're saying.


He's pulled two balls this season so far: a 250 ft fly out in Chicago, and a double play groundout to third in Cleveland.

I think we need data that he can be a MLB pull hitter before we can say he is one.

#25 Craig Arko

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:08 PM

It appears Johnny Number 5 needs more input either way.

#26 spycake

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:10 PM

On last year's Oakland team alone, there were plenty of successful examples.

1B Brandon Moss -- Reached AAA in 2007, one bad MLB year in 2009, finally started again as a 29 year old in 2013 with a .859 OPS on the season.
SS Jed Lowrie -- Reached AAA in 2007, but could never catch on with the Red Sox. Had an okay year with the Astros in 2012 before being acquired by the A's for 2013 and putting up a .791 OPS as a 29 year old.
3B Josh Donaldson -- The A's own AAAA story, reached AAA in 2010. Finally broke out in 2013 at age 27 as a starter and All-Star with a .883 OPS.
OF Josh Reddick -- Stuck between AAA and MLB since 2009 before being acquired by Oakland for 2012. Down year in 2013, but 32 homers in 2012.

2014 -- the year of the Handsome Cola!


No doubt Oakland has found some slugger gems in the rough. But every one of those four guys you list was pulling the ball in at least 23% of their MLB AB *before* their Oakland breakouts.

#27 jay

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:20 PM

I think we need data that he can be a MLB pull hitter before we can say he is one.


Never said he is one. And probably won't be. I'd be curious what his 2012 splits were in AA and early in AAA.

My point is it doesn't make sense to assume he's the extreme opposite field hitter he showed in 2013 based on the dramatic change in his approach that anyone can see.

#28 spycake

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:22 PM

It appears Johnny Number 5 needs more input either way.


I appreciate the reference, even though I'm the unfortunate target.

Look, I'm not trying to be a stat drone / Debbie Downer, but wasn't this the scouting knock on Cola last year? That he wasn't able to pull the ball at the MLB level?

I get that he moved closer to the plate this spring, and generically speaking he's off to a hot start, but he still hasn't pulled anything yet. And until he does, his success as a MLB power hitter seems about as likely to continue as Andrew Albers being a workhorse ace with K/9 rate around 2.

#29 Craig Arko

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 02:08 PM

I appreciate the reference, even though I'm the unfortunate target.

Look, I'm not trying to be a stat drone / Debbie Downer, but wasn't this the scouting knock on Cola last year? That he wasn't able to pull the ball at the MLB level?

I get that he moved closer to the plate this spring, and generically speaking he's off to a hot start, but he still hasn't pulled anything yet. And until he does, his success as a MLB power hitter seems about as likely to continue as Andrew Albers being a workhorse ace with K/9 rate around 2.


The guy has been an anomaly, to be sure. On the other hand, the hammerhead shark is out there swimming around. Statistics guarantee outliers as well as norms.

I don't know where he will wind up. This week he is AL co-player of the week. I'm happy for him now.

#30 Boom Boom

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 03:00 PM

I'm happy for the guy.

He'll do great as long as he can keep up that .500 BABIP.

#31 jgfellows

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 08:06 AM

Colabello has been a fun story to watch! Plus he didn't stink in right field last night! Thanks for the article Mr Bonnes!