Jay Bruce battled Cliff Lee for an eventual walk in his 7th inning trip to the plate last night. If you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see the plate appearance, you missed Jay Bruce fall behind 0-2 and draw the eventual walk, fouling off 6 pitches in the process. It was BruceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first unintentional walk of the season, and it came off a left-handed pitcher. Though, it was not just any left-handed pitcher, but a left-handed pitcher who hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t walked a batter since September of 2012. Lee had faced 169 batters over his previous 45 innings without issuing a free pass.
How many of us thought Bruce was a foregone strikeout when he fell into that 0-2 hole? How many thought before Bruce left the on-deck circle that he was going to strike out? I quote one of our frequent commenters, WVRedlegs, not to call anyone out, but to highlight what many of us were thinking before the players even took the field yesterday:
Cliff Lee doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t walk any batters. He has 0 BBÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s this year. Joey Votto has 20 BBÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s already this season. The Lee vs. Votto matchups will be interesting tonight.
Jay Bruce leads the World in KÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think there will be much intrigue vs. Lee for Bruce.
For the record, Votto was 2-for-3 with a strikeout. Bruce was 1-for-2 with the walk. No strikeouts.
This is obviously the smallest of small sample sizes. A single plate appearance in a single game. Or a trio a plate appearances if you want to analyze the full game. But I do believe that Jay Bruce has adjusted to the glaring weakness that he used to have against left-handed pitchers earlier in his career.
Some notes on the table below:
— It is true that Bruce strikes out at a greater rate against LHP than RHP.
— Bruce went from rarely hitting homeruns off LHP to hitting bombs off LHP more frequently than RHP.
— LHP do not intentionally walk Jay Bruce. He has 1 intentional walk in his career against a LHP.
*The columns OBPÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ & OPS’ are OBP & OPS with intentional walks removed from the calculation.
**Career numbers include 2013 statistics.
There is an obvious difference in BruceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s splits in the first two seasons of his career compared to what he has accomplished the past three years. While his strikeout rate remains higher against left-handed pitchers, when you adjust for the difference in intentional walks, Bruce has nearly identical OPS against righties and lefties over the past three seasons.