A Tale of Two Swings

The Nationals have not been hitting that well so far this season. This week was better than the first couple, thanks to some high scoring games, so there might not be too much to worry about. And some of the struggling hitters, like Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, have been pretty consistent over the last many seasons. Meanwhile, Rick Ankiel isn’t hitting either, but he’s such a question mark, that it’s hard to look back over the last few seasons and know what to think.

Ian Desmond and Mike Morse, on the other hand, are a little in between. They don’t have seasons of success to rely upon, and only really have last year’s full time hitting numbers to look back on. Morse has a bit more than that, but he had more than twice as many PAs in 2010 than the previous 4, so last year is really the one to look at. They have both struggled this year, but is there something to worry about this early in the season?

Take a look at Morse’s hit type results:

The only glaring issue seems to be the high strikeout rate. His line drive percentage is down just a bit, and his fly ball percentage is up a tad, but it seems to be that when he hits the ball, he hits it about the same as always. His career K% is actually 24.0%, obviously heavily weighted by last year (but also quite a few ABs his rookie year), so it can be assumed that will go down. And since the other hits are working out similarly to last season, it can also be assumed that he’ll make some amount of recovery.

Desmond, on the other hand, gives a different picture:

Desmond also has too high of a K rate, and you’d hope that would go down. But the bigger issue is how few line drives he’s hitting. And they have been substituted with fly balls. Since he’s only hit 2 HRs, a good amount of that shift has turned into outs. It’s still a small sample, but this could be a big indication of why Desmond isn’t hitting for average. He might not be hitting the ball on the screws, hitting too many easy out popups.

Morse appears to be closer to making a recovery, after things shake out with a larger sample size. Desmond, though, might have more trouble unless he figures out what is going on with his swings, and why he is hitting the ball high in the air so much.

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