Since being recalled from Triple-A, Randal Grichuk has turned his season around. Find out what is behind his newfound success.
Coming into the 2016 season, Randal Grichuk was expected to be the Cardinals everyday Center Fielder. Grichuk has been a disappointment to say the least, earning him 2 trips back to Memphis. Since being recalled on August 11th, Grichuk has found fire and has been a huge help to the Cardinals down the stretch.
So what exactly is behind Grichuk’s recent hitting surge? First, he’s been hitting inside pitching much better. As we can see from the heat charts on from Fangraphs.com, Grichuk had terrible luck hitting the inside pitch before his demotion. He had his most success hitting the pitch right down the middle and low and in hitting an abysmal .133 and .103 respectively.
Since being promoted, Grichuk has been crushing the ball when thrown inside hitting .250 on the inside pitch and .353 on the low and in . On balls that have been hit to left field, Grichuk has hit .500. His success has been when he has been able to keep his hands inside the ball and work to left field giving him more hits.
Grichuk has also been much more aggressive in counts which have resulted in more hits. In the month of August, he has swung at 7 first pitches, getting a hit in 4 of those at bats. He is also hitting .269 in counts where he has seen 3 pitches or less. That is over .100 points higher than his .118 average in at bats with 3 or more pitches. Grichuk has a subpar eye at the plate only working 1 walk this month while striking out 21 times. He has his best at bats when he swings at pitches early in the count, before pitchers expand the zone on him.
Randal Grichuk since returning from AAA: .305 BA, .814 SLG w/ 7 doubles, a triple & 7 HR in 59 AB. #STLCards
— Kevin Wheeler Show (@WheelerShow101) August 30, 2016
In addition to changing his plate approach, the Cardinals have taken all the pressure off of Grichuk. The highest he has hit in the order since being recalled is 6th when he went 0-4. When he has hit 7th-9th in the order, he has had a .327 batting average. Grichuk is getting better pitches to hit while hitting at the end of the lineup. Pitchers tend to throw more strikes to the bottom half of the lineup because they tend to be lesser hitters. Grichuk has taken advantage of his opportunities, lengthening out the Cardinals lineup.
Hitting lower in the order has also allowed Grichuk to have more at bats with people on base. Since his return, he has hit .333 with runners on base, almost 50 points higher than with no runners on. Batting in the 7th hole allows Grichuk to get up with runners on base because there are hitters who get on base before him.
In the past, Grichuk has lost a lot of hits due to infield shifts. Before getting sent down, he hit .246 against the shift, hitting most of the balls to the left side of the field. In August, he has hit .455 against the shift while hitting 45.5% of his hits to Center Field, away from the shift. He is no longer losing hits due to shifts because he is hitting the ball to all 3 fields.
Grichuk’s new plate approach has turned into more balls hit in the air and on a line. He has hit .533 when he has hit a line drive or a fly ball supposed to his .250 average on balls hit on the ground. He has created more loft which has resulted in 7 homeruns this month.
Sending Grichuk down a second time was the best thing for the Cardinals. Grichuk has been crucial for the Cardinals in their push for the 2nd Wild Card spot. If the Cardinals want to play in October, they’re going to need Grichuk to continue his newfound success.å