Jay Bruce battled Cliff Lee for an eventual walk in his 7th inning trip to the plate last night. If you didn’t see the plate appearance, you missed Jay Bruce fall behind 0-2 and draw the eventual walk, fouling off 6 pitches in the process. It was Bruce’s first unintentional walk of the season, and it came off a left-handed pitcher. Though, it was not just any left-handed pitcher, but a left-handed pitcher who hadn’t walked a batter since September of 2012. Lee had faced 169 batters over his previous 45 innings without issuing a free pass.

How many of us thought Bruce was a foregone strikeout when he fell into that 0-2 hole? How many thought before Bruce left the on-deck circle that he was going to strike out? I quote one of our frequent commenters, WVRedlegs, not to call anyone out, but to highlight what many of us were thinking before the players even took the field yesterday:

Cliff Lee doesn’t walk any batters. He has 0 BB’s this year. Joey Votto has 20 BB’s already this season. The Lee vs. Votto matchups will be interesting tonight.
Jay Bruce leads the World in K’s. Don’t think there will be much intrigue vs. Lee for Bruce.

For the record, Votto was 2-for-3 with a strikeout. Bruce was 1-for-2 with the walk. No strikeouts.

This is obviously the smallest of small sample sizes. A single plate appearance in a single game. Or a trio a plate appearances if you want to analyze the full game. But I do believe that Jay Bruce has adjusted to the glaring weakness that he used to have against left-handed pitchers earlier in his career.

Some notes on the table below:
— It is true that Bruce strikes out at a greater rate against LHP than RHP.
— Bruce went from rarely hitting homeruns off LHP to hitting bombs off LHP more frequently than RHP.
— LHP do not intentionally walk Jay Bruce. He has 1 intentional walk in his career against a LHP.

2008-09 vs RHP 571 13.7 21% 0.259 0.320 0.528 0.259 —- 7% 0.315 0.843
2008-09 vs LHP 268 47.4 31% 0.198 0.284 0.312 0.264 —- 0% 0.284 0.596
—- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —-
2010-12 vs RHP 1301 20.2 25% 0.269 0.347 0.493 0.312 —- 21% 0.325 0.818
2010-12 vs LHP 569 14.8 32% 0.247 0.322 0.495 0.285 —- 2% 0.320 0.815
—- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —-
Career vs RHP 1709 18.0 24% 0.265 0.338 0.499 0.296 —- 19% 0.320 0.819
Career vs LHP 761 19.5 31% 0.235 0.313 0.439 0.284 —- 1% 0.311 0.750
Career Totals 2470 18.4 26% 0.256 0.330 0.480 0.293 —- 13% 0.317 0.797

*The columns OBP’ & OPS’ are OBP & OPS with intentional walks removed from the calculation.
**Career numbers include 2013 statistics.

There is an obvious difference in Bruce’s splits in the first two seasons of his career compared to what he has accomplished the past three years. While his strikeout rate remains higher against left-handed pitchers, when you adjust for the difference in intentional walks, Bruce has nearly identical OPS against righties and lefties over the past three seasons.

Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. I think, through osmosis, Jay has become vottomatic. He fouls off crap pitches and waits for something he can drive. Make that pitcher work a little.

  2. Something can’t be right with that math. From 2010-12 Bruce has an overall strikeout rate of 24% (449 strikeouts in 1870 plate appearances). Yet against righties and lefties he is over that number.

  3. His numbers fluctuate quite a bit. In 2012, Bruce hit .225/.304/.450 against lefties, and .263/.337/.542 against righties. (He had a home OPS of .963 and a road OPS of .718.) But I will agree that right now, or at least last night, he looked very comfortable against an excellent lefty in Cliff Lee. In fact, after a slow first few days, Bruce has looked pretty good.

    As we know, Bruce has been plagued by numbingly awful slumps, where he looks hopeless for a week at a time. And on the flip side, he can be the player of the month. When he’s on, he’s ever bit as good as Votto, but Votto doesn’t have the cold snaps (or even close to it) that Bruce has. My general take on it is that he can’t/won’t relax enough during the slumps, and his bat slows down as a result. But I am certainly no hitting coach. I have some hope, after watching the last week or so, that the long-term slumps are over and that he will put up big numbers all year, even on the road.

  4. Is there a stat that shows which player was up to bat when there was a wild pitch thrown and run scored?

  5. Also, in that 7th inning at-bat last night, Lee threw a “wild pitch” that looked to be a borderline passed ball, but there was no clear replay. The play scored the first run of the game–unhinging Lee for a few pitches, and Bruce was smart enough to take advantage of that fact. Lee wasn’t throwing to his main catcher, and I wondered if he wasn’t ticked off at the catcher for not coming up with that ball.

  6. Thanks for taking me to task. lol. I deserved it. Every time I post a Bruce negativism, he goes out and has a good game. That was truely a great at-bat by him. My point yesterday was that Lee throws strikes and Votto would have some pitches to swing at, and did he.
    I could see Bruce’s transformation after the start of last year. He did suffer through a horrible June-Sept of 2011. He looked awful against lefties, especially late in the game. Did not see alot of that last year. Though he lapses back into the old Bruce from time to time, I have been impressed with his adjustments since last year. He does seem to want to hit to the opposite field more than in the past. I just hope that translates into a BA of around .285 and 100+ RBI’s.

  7. No Mesoraco today again.

  8. I agree Big Ed that Jay can be hot. Love to see him go to right because that will allow him to use the whole field and not hit into a shift. It also improves power in GABP as Joey has seen.

    That was a passed ball last night. Having caught, you cannot have one go through the wickets like that without responsibility.

    Also, both 2 strike hits by Joey and Jay were 2 strike curves that were not in the dirt. Having a catcher who can block that pitch is worth a bunch of ERA

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2013 Reds, Legend of Jay Bruce