Rob Dibble: "Is it frustrating sometimes to watch Adam Dunn be so patient? Because he had three walks early in the game and then he took some pitches in the extra innings that, if he was a DH in the American League, you'd want him to hack at those, but sometimes Adam's looking walk and he's got a certain thought process, have you discussed maybe him expanding his zone from time to time?"
Jim Riggleman: "I tell you what, Dib. You hit it right on the head. You know, that's been discussed many times, people in the organization have had a lot of history with him, like Tim Foli from the Cincinnati days and so forth, and [Hitting Coach Rick] Eckstein and myself and others have mentioned to him how much damage he could do by not taking as much, and you know, I can't explain it, but there's just something about these guys, I mean you can go back to the history of Ted Williams in the game who they say they used to try to get him to go out of the zone a little more and swing at some pitches, and he just either couldn't do it, wouldn't do it, wasn't comfortable with it, it messed up his game or whatever, but, I know what you're alluding to, you know, I felt the same way in the last inning, if he airs one out there, who knows what happens. But, he's selective up there, his OBP is usually up around .400, it's been a successful style of play for him, but I hear what you're saying, every now and then you'd like to see him go out of the zone and hit one even if it's the other way."
Hmmmm. So do I side with a big mouth relief pitcher and a manager who is a baseball lifer but hasn't won anything of note or do I side with THE GREATEST HITTER OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!
Ted Williams didn't swing at pitches out of the strike zone and he should have. Ole Teddy Ballgame, Hub Bids Kid Adieu subject was just dead wrong in his approach to hitting.
First, avoid outs. News flash: out are bad ummkay. Second, if he starts swinging at pitches that aren't strikes he will make MORE outs. Now once in a while he'll get a hit on one of those pitches but the pitches out of the strike zone are KIND OF HARD TO HIT ANYWAY! Swinging at pitches off the plate means YOU GET LESS STRIKES THROWN OR LESS PITCHES IN AREAS WHERE YOU CAN HIT THEM HARD. IOW, you trade a couple of extra hits for a whole bushel basket full of outs. Not a good trade.
Noodle this through: if a pitcher could get a batter out without throwing him a strike, would he do so? OF COURSE HE WOULD. So expanding the zone is an open invitation to get fewer pitches to hit in an at bat.
Now the argument would be: Well not in ALL circumstance should Dunn expand his strike zone. Just key ones. Hmmm. So I have to throw Dunn a strike with 2 outs no one on in the 1st but two on two outs in the 9th and I can toss any old slop up there and he'll be hacking away? It's MORE important to be selective in key situations . . . . put the pressure on the pitcher to throw strikes. Sometimes the pitcher wins. It happens. Turning Dunn into a Christian Guzman clone is a bad idea from start to finish.