I expected that the Dodgers’ hitting coach would have talked to Puig about being more patient at the plate this season. Like, a lot. FanGraphs recently pointed out that Puig is one of six players who has dropped his percentage of swings on pitches out of the strike zone by more than 10 percent from one season to the next.
Here’s what McGwire said:
It’s not a thing we talk about a lot. He understands it. We talked about it a lot last year. The biggest thing is learning how this game is played here. To me, the more patient you are, the more the pitches are going to come to you. The more impatient you are, the more the pitchers are going to go away from you. He got a lot of that in the second half of his season last year up here in the big leagues.
Rather, McGwire said that Puig has taken a sort of divide-and-conquer approach at the plate — focusing on one half or the other, depending on which pitcher is on the mound. Here’s one more McGwire quote I left out concerning that approach:
The time that you cover 17 inches is the when the baseball looks like a beach ball. you have the confidence like, ‘it doesn’t matter what you throw, if it’s over the white part of the plate, I’m going to kill it.’ Then there’s times where you have to pick one side of the plate or the other. Most pitchers today live away. Some pitchers live in. It’s just pick or choose, based on who’s on the mound. Me and John Valentin have a chart and things that we talk about prior to each series. We talk to the hitters as they go up to the plate, what to expect, this is what to do, where they usually live.
It’s helping Puig the most against right-handed pitchers. This season, his lefty/righty splits are almost evenly excellent:
That wasn’t quite as true last year: