Yes, the Fangraphs guys have been all over this subject material with a number of major leaguers, but they say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, don't they?
What's Wrong With Tyler Colvin?
Tyler Colvin got a rare start on Saturday, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He now sports a .121 batting average from 58 at-bats with six walks -- although he's one of just four Cubs to have more than one home run this season.
But homers aside, .121? What the hell? And it's not because Colvin's pitch selection has gotten worse -- in fact it seems to have gotten better.
Last season, Colvin swung at 38.2% of pitches he saw outside the strike zone; this year, that number is down to 34.4%. His whiff-rate is down, from 14.2% to 11.1%; his walk-rate is up, from 7.6% to 10%; and his K-rate is down, albeit slightly, from 28% to 26%.
So if it's not pitch selection, the next place one should look is at batted balls, and indeed that's where things get interesting for Colvin. Just 10% of the balls he's put into play have been line drives, way down from last year's rate of 17%.
Perhaps that lower LD% is the result of a change in how pitchers are pitching to him. Colvin is seeing more fastballs this year (up from 53.7% last year to 60.4% this year), and more pitches in the zone (up from 42.3% to 47.3%). One theory: maybe pitchers thought Colvin would chase the outside breaking ball last year, but ended up getting burned by too many mistakes (Fangraphs says Colvin was an above-average hitter against the cutter, curve, and change-up last year). Now pitchers are challenging him in the zone with well-located fastballs, and so far Tyler hasn't been able to adjust.
This may be a case of the league adjusting to a young hitter, forcing him to adjust his game to continue having success. Fortunately Colvin has already shown improvements in some parts of his game, namely pitch selection. Hopefully, Quade can keep finding ways to get Colvin into the game, he stays patient and keeps putting the bat on the ball, and starts squaring it up sooner rather than later.