A Deeper Look at Blue Jays’ Randal Grichuk’s Struggles

 

Jays From the Couch takes a deeper look at what is going on at the plate for Toronto Blue Jays’ RF, Randal Grichuk

 

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The Toronto Blue Jays are off to a decent start in 2018. The moves they made this past winter have paid off for them…well, most of them. One move their still waiting on is the trade for Randal Grichuk. This deal has yet to result in much of consequence. Now, it is rather early to write off any MLB player. That said, his early struggles certainly present a problem for the Blue Jays’ front office.

 

Grichuk is out of options and is producing a line of .086/.206/.224, 22 wRC+ on a BABIP of .088. It is no stretch to say he’s struggling. It’s not even a take at this point. We know this. But, let’s take a deeper look at Grichuk’s performance at the plate and see if there are answers to this head scratcher.

 

Hit it Hard! Hit it Where They Ain’t!

One of the more bizarre aspects of Grichuk’s 2018 is that he is among the league leaders in barreling up the ball. According to Statscast, he is 10th in baseball with 13.2 Brls/PA. He has an average exit velocity of 91.5 mph with a top of 114.1 mph. When a guy is hitting the ball this hard, one has to think that he will eventually start to find success. It is worth noting that the guy who will keep Grichuk out of full time work is beating him in this regard:

 

The other odd issue is that Grichuk is seeing a BABIP of .088. For his career, he has seen what we might call average BABIP (.304). The most basic definition of BABIP gets chalked up to luck. High BABIP means good luck and low means bad. Of course, hitting against quality defense certainly comes into play in this discussion. But, for Grichuk, it would appear that in the offseason, he broke a whole wall of mirrors, walked under all the ladders he could find and had a black cat farm start up across the street from him. Given how far from his average his 2018 BABIP is, we should not expect his struggles to continue…at least not to this level.

 

What Gives?

If you look at Grichuk’s batted ball profile on Fangraphs, you see that he is hitting the ball more ‘up the middle’, which you would think is a good idea- concentrating on the big part of the field. But, his higher than normal Cent% hasn’t helped him thus far. We mentioned how well Grichuk is barreling the ball, yet his Hard% is the lowest of his career at 30.6%.

 

His K% is the highest of his career (which is saying something) at 33.8%. Breaking down his plate discipline, we see that his Swing% is the lowest of his career at 47.4%, yet his SwStr% is the highest he’s ever seen at 16.5%. The guy is swinging less, but missing more, resulting in the lowest Contact% of his career at 64.6%.

 

Normally a decent fastball hitter, Grichuk is having a hard time this year. He’s seeing a wFB value of -2.7. Check out this Brooks Baseball description of Grichuk’s approach to fastballs:

 

“Disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss” fastballs. If a guy is having trouble at the plate, or his overall offensive contributions are in question, one of the keys to look at are whether he can still hit fastballs. It would appear that is an issue, here. Against the 4-seamer, Grichuk is hitting .120 with 6 K. He’s whiffed on 13.45% of the 119 fastballs he’s seen and his Whiff/Swing rate is 28.07%.

 

While he’s having trouble with the fastball, when he gets to two strikes, he is faring worse against pitches down and out of the zone. Against two strike sinkers (5), he has a Whiff/Swing rate of 100%. Against the curve (11) it is 100% and the splitter (3) is 100% fail rate for him. The whole idea of protecting the plate seems a tough slog at the moment.

 

The latest episode of Jays From the Couch Radio featured a discussion about Grichuk’s struggles. Whether it is because he is trying too hard, or the offseason training he did with pitch recognition did not take is anyone’s guess. It’s almost like the guy needs a break. Joining a new team and a new fan base comes with a certain level of pressure. Though, it is hard to imagine there being more pressure on him in Toronto than playing in St Louis. Whatever the issue is, there is some noticeable data coming out of his first month as a Blue Jay. It is difficult to imagine his struggles continuing, but it was also difficult to imagine them getting this bad.

 

 

 

 

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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.

Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.