Some guys fit a mold right from day one. They are lightning fast but unlikely to ever develop much power. In some cases, like with Ben Revere or Nick Gordon, there's no question about what type of player they need to become to be successful at the major league level and how they can best leverage their skills. I mean even if Revere hits .290 over a 10-year stretch he could be much more valuable if he could add 30 points to his OBP and 10 points to his average via bunting.
Gleeman and Parker made some great points on bunting in this week's podcast, mostly talking about Jordan Schafer. It would be great to hear the coaching staff or the front office explain an in-season training regimen for these guys. Something like:
We hired 5 retired minor league pitchers to specifically work with players at all levels on bunting and pitch recognition. At the major league level, the Twins have a plan for player X and Y and they each spend 30 minutes each day having bunting contests. We're hoping this translates to an extra hit or two each week during the season and allows us to do a better job in sacrifice situations. We also have these guys working on pitch recognition to try to increase their ability to draw walks.
My hunch is that Arcia's pre-game routine is pretty similar to Schafer, which would be a waste of his skill set. And with Shafer, he's actually really good at slapping the ball the other way so he should be able to play games with the third baseman where he can pull a bunt back and slap it. Plus, once he's on first he's going to turn it into a double almost every time if he runs on the right pitch. In a perfect world, Shafer would OBP .370, hit leadoff, then set up Mauer and either Arcia or Vargas with lot's of fastballs on the outer half - allowing those guys to guess hit. A player like that could be incredibly valuable playing CF until Buxton arrives, which at this point might be 2016 or maybe even (gulp) never. And same story with Revere, that's what you're looking for from these types of players. But is there a daily commitment to mold these guys into that prototypical leadoff or #2 hitter? There should be. Development isn't a one size fits all program, but it needs to happen every day not just for one month out of the year.
Nick Gordon is the next opportunity to do this. He is 3.5 seconds home to first. That's 80 speed. He bats left handed. Get it done guys! Every day!
Image Credit: KSTP.
And please, if you're with the Twins media, can we ask some specific questions about pre/post-game routines? What is or is not being done? Explain to your fan base how you're trying to improve. Each player has specific things they need to work on. You still might lose 90 games but at least provide some explanation about what the coaching staff is doing on a daily basis to get better. After the last 3 seasons, they owe us that.