He is hitting everything, from a stance that seems very Barney Rubble-esque. Gattis is large, at about 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, stands with a slightly open stance and a crouch and doesn't wear batting gloves. It's like he's swinging a sledgehammer, and from that setup, he has blasted everything on the inner half of the plate, such as this pitch against the Marlins on Wednesday night.
Now the onus falls on the pitchers around the league to try to make adjustments, and you can bet that scouts, pitchers, catchers and pitching coaches are working to come up with a plan on how to beat Gattis at the plate. This is the rhythm of adjustments in the big leagues: For each player having success, there are dozens who are looking for a way to neutralize him. The same thing is happening with Chris Davis, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Upton.
The following numbers from Justin Havens of ESPN Research confirm that Gattis is destroying everything on the inner half (while hitting pretty well on everything):
Inner half: .545 BA; 1.765 OPS
Outer half: .250 BA; .808 OPS
Upper half: .357 BA; 1.143 OPS
Lower half: .444 BA; 1.434 OPS
I asked ESPN MLB analyst Curt Schilling for a diagnosis of Gattis as well as what kind of pitching plan he would implement against him. Schilling indicated that he would need more information to develop a complete plan, based on swing percentage and whether the inner-half damage was on fastballs or soft stuff.
"I'd definitely start him like I did 99% of the guys in the big leagues -- fastball away," Schilling wrote in an email. "No one can protect both sides at 93 mph+ -- no one. What I'd do is start him away, and when ahead I'd work splitters middle in, since the split is a ball that never ends up a strike. You give him a ball in the 'area' he wants it, but when it arrives, it's no longer in that area."
Schilling referenced the hot-zone chart (right) that Havens sent along.
"I will bet you dollars to donuts that red in is not power red," Schilling wrote. "And if you notice, that blue spot at the hands? That's definitely where I'd go late count. Basically I'd start him away first at-bat, then pound him in off middle, then try to close away.
"With the second at-bat, I'd start away, and stay away, because after that 1st at-bat, he's going to have felt my 95 on his hands and will be wanting to get started early. So he spends at-bat No. 2 looking in, but I never give him anything there.
"Now on the third at-bat, he knows I am going away early, so I start with a curveball, or slider -- a curveball if he's cheating, slider if he's diving, because with the slider he ends up rolling over. But after that first strike, I beat the crap out of him corner in, and off, because at that point he THINKS I am going away at some point, and when you throw 93+ and you have a hitter thinking one side, he can't get to the other."
The Nationals will have their own thoughts Friday regarding how to pitch to Gattis, because the one thing he has shown is that no pitcher can keep throwing him fastballs inside. Every day in Major League Baseball, it's all about adjustments.
As Ryan Vogelsong has mentioned in the past, Quentin stands on top of the plate and puts himself at a much higher risk for getting drilled. It's something he should expect. (The chart on the right outlines Quentin's long history of being hit by pitches.)
I wonder if Quentin's reaction was built on the history of the old battles between the Royals and White Sox, when Greinke often would be right in the middle of the brushbacks and beanballs. Some pitchers shy away from that stuff, but Greinke never did. If somebody needed to be drilled, he seemed to do it, with a matter-of-fact, sure-I'll-drill-you demeanor. Because his command is so good, there is often a presumption when he hits people that he did it on purpose. Pedro Martinez pitched similarly, and that sort of thing can rub hitters the wrong way.
But it was ridiculous for Quentin to charge the mound in this situation, and it's a crushing injury for the Dodgers -- like flushing $12 million down a drain.
Around the league
• Oakland has won eight in a row and wiped out the Angels this week. Think about this: Since June 1 of last year, the Athletics are 80-40. That's easily the best record in the majors.
Best MLB records since June 1, 2012:
1. A's: 80-40 (.667)
2. Nationals: 76-45 (.628)
3. Braves: 74-45 (.622)
4. Reds: 73-47 (.608)
4. Giants: 73-47 (.608)
6. Yankees: 71-48 (.597)
• Major League Baseball bought a set of Biogenesis records, writes Michael Schmidt.
• The Nationals and Braves are set to meet for the first time in what should be a great, summerlong series of games.
Moves, deals and decisions
4. For the second straight night, the Red Sox lost the battle of the bullpens.
5. The Nats made the White Sox pay.
Here's the thing: The mud bog that is the American League East will buy time for all of the clubs involved, because it doesn't look as if any club is going to run away with this division. The Blue Jays have played terribly at the start of this season, and they wake up this morning just two games out of first place. The Yankees' lineup is something of a mess, and they're a half-game out of first place. The Red Sox bullpen has been hit the last couple of days, and Boston is tied for first. It may be like this all summer long before a final late sprint to the finish for all or most of the teams, like in the 1967 AL pennant race.
7. The Rangers made a key defensive play.
8. The Giants put together a big comeback.
Dings and dents
2. Pitching coach Don Cooper is going to miss the rest of the White Sox road trip.
6. Mike Morse suffered a small fracture.
• Joel Sherman assesses Andy Pettitte's hall of fame chances.
• John Farrell quashed the closer controversy.
• So far, there is no shock value to the Rays' offense, writes Martin Fennelly.
• Evan Grant asks: Can Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels make it work?
• Tom Grieve had an interesting observation about Angels fans.
• Matt Harvey's fastball is gaining attention, writes Andrew Keh.
• The Nationals' catchers are platooning, and thriving.
• The Phillies' lineup has started to produce, writes Bob Brookover.
• The Cardinals have shown how to react to adversity, writes Bernie Miklasz.
• Ron Roenicke is facing some tough challenges.
• A Pirate has taken advantage of his opportunity.
• Nick Piecoro writes that the Diamondbacks' rotation could be better.
• Walt Weiss has a lot of credibility, writes Mark Kiszla.
• Dave Anderson covered Jackie Robinson and remembered his passion.
• Here is the New York Times review of "42."
• Cubs prospect Jorge Soler was suspended for five games. It's worth saying again: I think players from Cuba have had arguably the toughest cultural transition to make when it comes to playing Major League Baseball. Orlando Hernandez once went after Jorge Posada with a sharp object in the Yankees' trainer's room, Rey Ordonez had issues with teammates, etc. With other players from Cuba, there is a trust factor missing.
• Major League Baseball is balking at some pickoff moves, writes Rob Biertempfel.
And today will be better than yesterday.