Memo To Yoenis Cespedes: Get Up On The Plate

Well that's a bit of a reach. - USA TODAY Sports

Yoenis Cespedes has a lot of different problems at the plate right now. He is pulling off pitches, jerking his head but not the ball to LF. He is chasing sliders away and in the dirt. He is reaching for fastballs away and swinging through them. He is trying to pull everything. Basically, he's a bit of a mess right now.

I believe that while some of this is clearly "bad approach," a lot of things could be solved if Cespedes would get closer to the plate. Even watching him tap both corners of the plate with his bat before a pitch, you can see how he does not have great coverage of the outside corner. Watching Josh Donaldson bat soon after Cespedes, you can see the difference in the right-handed batter's box between how much room sits between Cespedes and the inside corner of home plate, and Donaldson in relation to the inside corner.

As a hitter, you have to give up something. You can't just "get way up on the plate to own the outside corner" without being vulnerable to getting jammed by the inside pitch, and you can't get way off the plate to avoid getting tied up inside without being at the mercy of the ball painting the outside corner.

So why would it behoove Cespedes to get up on the plate, more like Donaldson is? Here are my observations, leading up to my conclusion...

* Cespedes is being pitched consistently away. Until he takes back ownership of the outside part of the plate, he's going to continue to be pitched away and currently, he is not reaching the fastball and is chasing the slider. The status quo isn't working.

* Meanwhile, Cespedes is very quick on the ball in. We saw this with the 97 MPH fastball he turned around from Tom WIlhelmsen.

* Sure, if he got up on the plate you could jam him with the inside pitch but the margin for error on the inner half is razor thin. If pitchers had "the inside corner" as their go-to location to get Cespedes, it would be better for Yoenis than if they had the outside corner -- we're seeing how the latter plays out and it's not hard enough on the opposing pitcher.

* Now here's the most important point of all: By giving the inside corner, instead of the outside corner, as his "vulnerable spot," Cespedes is taking away the slider from a RHP as a putaway pitch. RHPs can get a hitter out, and are getting Cespedes out, with sliders away. RHPs don't get RH hitters out with sliders in.

So imagine Cespedes gets up on the plate, to where the outside corner is more "down the middle" for him -- he can reach the outside pitch, no problem, and really drive the ball. Furthermore, if he has to reach, at all, for a pitch, he knows it's clearly a ball, because anything he can't easily reach must be off the plate. Meanwhile, the inside corner becomes the spot you might be able to get Cespedes by tying him up inside. However, to do that a RHP has to use the fastball. The slider is no longer a weapon to Cespedes' "vulnerable side of the plate". Not only that, but the pitcher is throwing to the half of the plate where a location mistake of just a couple inches becomes huge compared to missing the outside corner by a couple inches.

Throwing a fastball in to Cespedes is scary for a pitcher, a lot more so than dropping a slider into the dirt or off the outside corner. Not all of Yoenis' problems can be solved by moving himself a few inches, because some of the problems relate to trying to pull everything, pulling off pitches as he swings -- some of which might self-solve with a change in positioning, or might not -- but right now it feels as if Cespedes is just making it too easy on pitchers to get him out the same ways again and again when he could have better plate coverage and force pitchers to pitch away from their comfort zone.

Take back home plate, Yoenis. Literally.

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