Tuesday, May 7

What Precisely Is Randy Arozarena Doing Proper?

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

After a implausible run within the World Baseball Classic, Randy Arozarena has stayed crimson scorching. Defensive metrics see him as a hair higher in left area this 12 months, and he’s additionally been barely above common on the basepaths. That’s an enormous improve from the extraordinarily entertaining however in the end deleterious aggression he confirmed in 2022. Oh, and I ought to most likely point out that he’s the eighth-best hitter in all of baseball proper now, proper behind some man named Trout. Arozarena is working a 182 wRC+, up from his already superb profession mark of 129. All three of the figures in his .348/.412/.584 slash line can be career-best marks over a full season. Put all of it collectively, and Arozarena is at the moment on tempo to double his profession WAR whole.

How is he doing all this? I’m not utterly positive. Don’t get me unsuitable; the numbers inform a narrative, and there are another handy narratives at hand. I’m simply not satisfied of how every thing suits collectively. That’s truly why I used to be so excited by writing about Arozarena. He’s far more fascinating than some man named Randy has any proper to be.

Let’s begin with one factor we might be positive of: Randy Arozarena is totally hammering the baseball. He’s all the time been able to posting eye-popping exit velocities, however this 12 months he’s doing it constantly. Last 12 months, his common exit velocity was 89.9 mph and his hard-hit fee was 40.7%, each solidly above common. This 12 months he’s at 95.1 and 59.2%. That’s not simply good; that’s Yordan Alvarez territory. In phrases of contact high quality, Arozarena has by no means had a stretch like this:

It’s not simply that he’s hitting the ball tougher than ever. He’s additionally avoiding mis-hits at a career-best fee. His 7% soft-hit fee is tied for seventh-lowest within the league, and not one of the six gamers forward of him has a better hard-hit fee.

Arozarena can be lifting the ball greater than ever. His line drive fee is at 20%, and his fly ball fee is at 38.6%. While each can be profession highs over a full season, this isn’t utterly unprecedented. Arozarena has had earlier stretches with decrease groundball charges, although mixed along with his elevated hard-hit fee, this one has led him to a career-best 16.9% barrel fee. What’s new is his launch angle tightness. Despite all this elevate, his popup fee is at a profession low. Arozarena’s common launch angle is up by 3.0 levels, however the usual deviation of his launch angle is down by 3.3 levels. He’s constantly hitting the ball the place he can do probably the most harm, reaping all the advantages of an improved launch angle with not one of the draw back. Courtesy of Baseball Savant:

The final massive change is that Arozarena is utilizing proper area like by no means earlier than. Batters are likely to elevate the ball extra after they’re going the opposite approach, however that’s not practically sufficient to clarify what’s occurring right here. His 36.6% reverse area fee is nicely above his 24% profession common, and his pull fee can be at a profession low. This is one thing solely new. He’s now spraying the ball all around the area, and he’s by no means had a stretch the place he’s gone the opposite approach so often or pulled the ball so occasionally. Further, when he hits the ball to the fitting aspect, he’s hitting it with authority. His profession common exit velocity on balls the opposite approach is 88 mph. This 12 months it’s 95.2 mph:

Randy Arozarena – Spray Angle Splits

Pull Center Oppo
2019-22 2.97 35.2 206 1.42 34.6 183 0.53 27.5 189
2023 3.75 36 267 0.89 55 200 0.43 46.2 229

As you’ll be able to see, Arozarena’s hard-hit fee is roughly unchanged when he pulls the ball. He’s hitting extra grounders than regular to the left aspect, and he’s succeeding there partly by hitting the ball tougher and partly via batted ball luck. However, on balls up the center and to the other area, his hard-hit charges have skyrocketed and he’s hitting the ball within the air greater than ever. In reality, the numbers point out that his 229 wRC+ to the other area would possibly truly be a bit decrease than he deserves.

Arozarena’s profile has all the time been slightly bit robust to parse. For instance, check out the warmth maps under. On the left is Arozarena’s profession slugging share per ball in play. On the fitting is his contact fee:

Some of the pitches that Arozarena actually crushes, like those on the prime of the zone, are additionally those he swings via most frequently. In reality, should you take a more in-depth look, you’ll discover that Arozarena additionally tends to have decrease contact charges proper in the course of the plate, a pattern that has continued this 12 months. He’s able to doing harm under the zone, or on pitches simply off the plate outdoors.

I convey this up as a result of that is the a part of the article the place I’d usually dig into the underlying metrics and inform you that Arozarena is mashing the ball as a result of he’s chasing much less, getting forward within the rely, and profiting from meatballs within the zone. Or perhaps that he’s simply specializing in the pitches he can actually crush. That’s how these items are likely to work. And whereas Arozarena is the truth is chasing much less and seeing barely extra pitches within the zone, I don’t actually assume that explains the transformation in his batted ball profile.

Arozarena’s chase fee is 7.5 share factors decrease than it was final 12 months. That’s an enormous drop, nevertheless it additionally leaves him proper round his 2001 fee, and he wasn’t working a 180 wRC+ or a 60% hard-hit fee in 2021. He’s hanging out lots much less and strolling barely extra, however he’s additionally whiffing extra typically. In reality, he’s seen extra strikes general and spent a decrease share of the time forward within the rely this 12 months.

Arozarena’s general contact fee is up barely, although once more, it’s not that easy. He’s making extra contact within the zone and whiffing extra when he chases. I don’t know the way repeatable that’s, nevertheless it’s a neat trick should you can pull it off. Combine it with a decrease swing fee (significantly outdoors the zone), and abruptly extra of his batted balls come on pitches within the zone. But nonetheless, we’re solely speaking about a rise of two.3 share factors. That doesn’t sound like sufficient to clarify a hard-hit fee that’s jumped practically 20.

Here’s the larger factor: Name a break up, and inside that break up Arozarena is hitting the ball tougher this 12 months than he did final 12 months. Ahead, behind, and even within the rely? Randy Arozarena is hitting the ball tougher. Inside or outdoors the zone? Randy Arozarena is hitting the ball tougher. Heart, shadow, or chase zone. Fastball, breaking ball, or offspeed. Lefty, righty, house, away, fly ball, groundball, line drive; he’s even hitting his popups tougher. His numbers are down only a hair on the internal third, which is actually comprehensible given his new propensity to tear the ball the opposite approach, however that’s actually all I may discover. The man is simply plain hitting the ball tougher, and I’m not ready to conclude that all of it comes all the way down to his swing selections.

That brings us to our two tidy narratives. The first is one thing Adam Berry described considerably bluntly on the Ballpark Dimensions Podcast. “He was openly not really looking into scouting reports,” Berry instructed Mike Petriello. “He would ask the hitting coach or the manager, whoever ‘What’s this guy’s fastball?’ That’s all he needed to know before he went up for a plate appearance. He even told us last year at one point he didn’t know other pitchers’ names. He knew his fellow Cubans, and he knew Gerrit Cole, and that was it.”

Joe Trezza gave a extra nuanced image at MLB.com. It’s not that Arozarena couldn’t be bothered, Trezza defined, “He eschewed data, preferring to stay in the moment and let his natural ability take over. Sometimes, he told teammates, he didn’t even want to know the opposing pitcher’s name.”

I’m positively prepared to consider that extra preparation has helped Arozarena. Lest we overlook, this wouldn’t be the primary time that Arozarena has determined to place in further work to up his recreation and carried out precisely that. Arozarena remains to be chasing breaking stuff at nearly precisely the identical fee, however he’s shedding extra four-seamers above the zone and offspeed stuff under it. That might be resulting from having a greater thought of how pitchers are attacking him. At the very least, it’s protected to say that incorporating new data into his gameplan hasn’t harm.

The different factor that would tie our story up with a bow is that Arozarena has made some vital adjustments to his swing. Last 12 months his stance was extraordinarily upright. This 12 months, he’s crouching a bit extra, as he did in 2020. Last 12 months, his palms had been up above his ear and he saved his again elbow up, along with his bat at a a lot flatter angle. This 12 months, he’s lowered his palms to shoulder peak, along with his elbow much less elevated and his bat practically vertical. All of that’s utterly new. When he goes into his load, he’s rotating his physique away from the pitcher much less and holding his shoulders way more degree. 2023 is on the left and 2022 is on the fitting:

Last 12 months, you could possibly just about see the entire 56 on Arozarena’s again; this 12 months, you’ll be able to solely see a small a part of the six.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been capable of finding any details about Arozarena’s new stance. He was utilizing it each in spring coaching and on the World Baseball Classic, so it’s clearly the results of offseason work. To my data, nobody has written an article about it. Andrea of Scout Girl Report was the one particular person I discovered who’s talked about it on Twitter.

I don’t know whether or not Arozarena made these adjustments on his personal, with outdoors coaches, or with Tampa Bay’s teaching employees, and I haven’t been in a position to observe down a quote about what he hopes they’ll do for his swing. I assume that the specified impact of all these changes — deeper crouch, decrease palms, much less rotation pre-swing — is to make him faster, beginning out with the varied elements of his physique nearer to the place they have to be when he begins his swing. Shortening up on this approach clearly hasn’t harm his energy. He even set a profession exit velocity file final week by hitting a Levi Stoudt four-seamer 114.3 mph. It may be that reducing his palms and staying extra degree had been adjustments meant to assist him elevate the ball, through which case they’ve been a hovering success.

So that is the place I’m going to depart you. Randy Arozarena is off to an amazing begin. He’s obtained a brand new swing. He’s learning scouting experiences. He’s chasing much less. Through some mixture of those elements, he’s elevating the baseball, utilizing the entire area, and hitting it very, very onerous. Maybe that’s all we have to know.

Content Source: blogs.fangraphs.com