Using the Entire Field

Thearon W. Henderson

I am pretty sure the number one requirement to be an Athletics analyst is that you have to say that a player should "use the entire field" as many times as possible. Hey Bip Roberts, "why is Josh Reddick struggling?" Roberts: "Everything with him starts up the middle, and he is not doing that well." How about you Fosse, "What's up with Cespedes?" Fosse: "Trying to pull everything and not looking to go the other way." And Hatteberg, "What gives with Chris Young?" Hatteberg: "He just isn't using the entire field like he is capable of."

Of course. No problem. Why isn't Chili Davis having the guys use the entire field?

Well, he is trying. And it isn't going that great. Allow me to let everyone in on a little secret: hitting to all fields is hard. HARD. It takes the right swing, approach, build, and even a little luck. Hitting to all fields is the holy grail of hitting. And like Indiana Jones showed us, chasing after it can be dangerous.

How hard is hitting to all fields? Let's take a look at the hitters since 2002 who have put up a better than league average wOBA to pull, opposite, and center fields.

2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
Adam Jones Adam Jones Adrian Beltre Adrian Beltre Adam LaRoche Adam LaRoche
Adam Lind Adam LaRoche Adrian Gonzalez Albert Pujols Albert Pujols Albert Pujols
Buster Posey Alejandro De Aza Albert Pujols Andre Ethier Andre Ethier Andre Ethier
Carlos Gomez Allen Craig Andre Ethier Andrew McCutchen Andrew McCutchen B.J. Upton
David Ortiz Andrew McCutchen Andrew McCutchen Angel Pagan Asdrubal Cabrera Brandon Phillips
David Wright Austin Jackson Asdrubal Cabrera Asdrubal Cabrera B.J. Upton Carlos Delgado
Evan Longoria Billy Butler B.J. Upton B.J. Upton Billy Butler Casey Blake
Freddie Freeman Bryce Harper Billy Butler Billy Butler Brandon Phillips Curtis Granderson
Ian Desmond Buster Posey Brandon Phillips Brandon Phillips David Wright David Wright
James Loney Chase Headley Carlos Gonzalez Carlos Gonzalez Derrek Lee Derrek Lee
Jay Bruce David Freese David Ortiz Corey Hart Evan Longoria Grady Sizemore
Josh Donaldson Hunter Pence Dustin Pedroia David Wright Hanley Ramirez Hanley Ramirez
Justin Upton Ian Desmond Hunter Pence Evan Longoria Ichiro Suzuki Ichiro Suzuki
Manny Machado Jason Heyward Jacoby Ellsbury Hunter Pence Jayson Werth Jhonny Peralta
Mark Trumbo Jay Bruce Jeff Francoeur Jayson Werth Justin Upton Lance Berkman
Miguel Cabrera Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton Joey Votto Kendrys Morales Manny Ramirez
Mike Trout Mark Trumbo Justin Upton Josh Hamilton Matt Holliday Matt Holliday
Paul Goldschmidt Matt Holliday Kelly Johnson Justin Upton Michael Young Miguel Cabrera
Starling Marte Matt Wieters Lance Berkman Kelly Johnson Miguel Cabrera Nick Markakis
Torii Hunter Melky Cabrera Mark Trumbo Martin Prado Nick Markakis Ryan Braun
Miguel Cabrera Matt Kemp Matt Holliday Pablo Sandoval
Mike Trout Melky Cabrera Miguel Cabrera Prince Fielder
Neil Walker Michael Morse Nick Markakis Raul Ibanez
Nick Swisher Miguel Cabrera Paul Konerko Ryan Braun
Pedro Alvarez Miguel Montero Rickie Weeks Todd Helton
Prince Fielder Nelson Cruz Robinson Cano Victor Martinez
Robinson Cano Prince Fielder Ryan Zimmerman
Ryan Braun Robinson Cano Scott Rolen
Ryan Doumit Ryan Braun Shin-Soo Choo
Ryan Zimmerman Seth Smith Vladimir Guerrero
Yadier Molina Troy Tulowitzki
Victor Martinez

2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
Aaron Rowand Albert Pujols Albert Pujols Adrian Beltre A.J. Pierzynski Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols Alex Rodriguez Alex Rodriguez Albert Pujols Albert Pujols Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez Alfonso Soriano Alfonso Soriano Alex Rodriguez Alfonso Soriano Alfonso Soriano
Alfonso Soriano Bill Hall Brian Roberts Alfonso Soriano Aubrey Huff Carlos Beltran
Andre Ethier Brian McCann David Ortiz Bobby Abreu Bret Boone Derrek Lee
Aramis Ramirez Carlos Delgado David Wright Carlos Beltran Carlos Delgado Garret Anderson
Chase Utley Chase Utley Derrek Lee David Ortiz Ivan Rodriguez Ivan Rodriguez
Chipper Jones David Ortiz Eric Chavez Hank Blalock Jose Guillen Jeff Kent
David Wright David Wright Manny Ramirez Hideki Matsui Preston Wilson Lance Berkman
Derrek Lee Jermaine Dye Mark Grudzielanek Ivan Rodriguez Todd Helton Larry Walker
Hanley Ramirez Justin Morneau Matt Holliday Lance Berkman Magglio Ordonez
Kevin Youkilis Lance Berkman Miguel Cabrera Miguel Cabrera Scott Rolen
Magglio Ordonez Matt Holliday Randy Winn Phil Nevin Todd Helton
Manny Ramirez Miguel Cabrera Richie Sexson Randy Winn Torii Hunter
Matt Holliday Miguel Tejada Todd Helton Todd Helton Vladimir Guerrero
Miguel Cabrera Robinson Cano
Nick Markakis Ryan Zimmerman
Prince Fielder Todd Helton
Robinson Cano Victor Martinez
Ryan Zimmerman
Todd Helton
Torii Hunter
Troy Tulowitzki
Victor Martinez

Not a lot of names there. And the names there are absolutely the best hitters in the game. But some pretty good hitters aren't on the list as well. No Jose Bautista, Joe Mauer, or Carlos Beltran, to name a few.

My point is that maybe shooting for the absolutely best-of-the-best isn't the best fit for everyone. For example, we know that a mid-90s fastball, wipeout slider, and 12-6 curveball are pretty difficult to beat repertoire for pitchers. But would it make sense to try to have Tommy Milone develop into this kind of pitcher? No. Take Reddick for example. Sure, last year his opposite field numbers weren't great. And with all the effort he and Davis have spent trying to get him "to use the whole field" his opposite field numbers have risen (yet still below league average). But his center-field and (especially) pull numbers have nose-dived. Was this a smart move? I say no.

Josh Reddick
Pull Center Opposite
2013 wOBA 0.390 0.294 0.262
2012 wOBA 0.582 0.309 0.227

So while telling a hitter to "use the entire field" isn't a bad thing, we just need to keep some frame of reference of how difficult that really is. I'm talking to you Fosse.