MLB Dirt

Brett Lawrie Needs to Pull the Ball More!

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is off to a dreadful start, hitting an abysmal .127/.182/.254 with a 16 wRC+. Yes, it is still early in the season, but Brett Lawrie is striking out at a career worst rate and his BABIP has dropped every season since he started in 2011.

This, after seeing his wRC+ drop every year (157 in 2011, 98 in 2012, 94 in 2013), is not the way you want to start your season.

On top of Brett Lawrie’s problems with putting the ball in play, he is having a difficult time finding the green with his batted balls. Yes, BABIP can be fluky, but the fact that he has only two line-drives all season is a concern.

After looking back to his rookie season, you know, the one where he posted a 157 wRC+, I noticed a trend that has gone to an extreme this year:  Brett Lawrie is not pulling the ball.

Brett Lawrie Spray Chart 2014.

Brett Lawrie Spray Chart 2014.

The chart is crystal clear. Brett Lawrie is not pulling the ball, and the few times he has, good things have happened.

But, Brett Lawrie has not always had spray charts like this. Take a look at his rookie season’s spray chart, you know, the season he posted his best numbers.

Brett Lawrie Spray Chart 2011

Brett Lawrie Spray Chart 2011

Brett Lawrie has had far better results when he pulls the ball rather than going the other way and up the middle.

I Split PA AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP BAbip tOPS+
Pulled-RHB 203 203 77 16 0 19 .379 .379 .739 1.118 150 2 .315 196
Up Mdle-RHB 533 522 157 22 7 13 .301 .297 .444 .742 232 15 .280 99
Opp Fld-RHB 176 176 51 13 1 2 .290 .290 .409 .699 72 0 .282 89
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/20/2014.

But, each season Brett Lawrie has been in the league, he has pulled the ball less and less.

2011: 30.25%

2012: 20.66%

2013: 21.96%

2014: 18.51%

The result of Brett Lawrie’s approach has not worked out and has led to weaker contact and more easy pop outs. It’s time for Brett Lawrie to start pulling the ball again and maybe we will see the potential Brett Lawrie has always had come to fruition.

About Jonathan C. Mitchell

I am a husband, a father, and a son. I have been redeemed by the Son. I love numbers, predictions, analysis, and prospects. I have been a guest on ESPN Radio and have had posts featured on ESPN and Fangraphs, among others. You can follow me on twitter @FigureFilbert

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