Eno Sarris of FanGraphs just published a long interview with Jay Bruce about his hitting preparation, mechanics and philosophy.
On Bruce’s preparation to face a specific pitcher:
Bruce: Video, for everyone, is a little different. I don’t look at a lot of myself, video-wise. I don’t spend a ton of time looking at sequences necessarily from pitchers. Most of these guys nowadays, I’ve faced. But there are new guys being called up every day. You have to continue to learn, and pitchers evolve, guys you’ve been facing may be pitching a little differently, you have to look at their last start. The thing I have to keep in mind is that these guys have a book on me as well and it’s a cat and mouse game. It goes back to sticking to the approach that made you successful and working their game into your approach. At the end of the day, there is a common denominator: Their job is to throw strikes and your job is to hit strikes. So then you have to pick out the strikes you are looking to hit.
On his strikeout number:
Bruce: Striking out has always been my Achilles heal as a hitter. It’s frustrating because I don’t feel like I’m a 175-165-185 strikeout guy. The numbers don’t lie, obviously. But I’ve been through the wringer when it comes to trying to figure out ways to do less of that. I have figured out that the way to do less of that is to not to try and think about doing less of it.
On his overall goals:
Bruce: A big component of that for me, is if I do get that pitch, the at-bat should be over. If I get a pitch that I’m looking for and I miss it, the at-bat should be over. It may come to a few more strikeouts sometimes, but that goes back to the results thing. The more efficient I can be playing my game, what I do well, which is driving the ball and not making outs — that’s the goal. My goal is to drive the ball, play great defense, and get on base as much as I can.
On facing defensive shifts:
Bruce: You probably know good and well that they do put the shift on, which is a little frustrating. But you hear people talk all the time, ‘I don’t know why he doesn’t just hit the ball to left field, or bunt.’ Well, the shifts are getting more sophisticated, where the third baseman is playing in. And the other guys are over. How many guys do you really know that hit for power that hit ground-balls to the opposite side of the field? In the air? Absolutely. In the air is totally different. … So I understand why they shift. But it’s way harder to manipulate the ball from one side of the field to other. And your strengths are your strengths and you have to be as efficient as you can with them. That’s not saying I’m going up there trying to pull. I never go up there trying to pull the ball. I’m looking to hit the ball to the big part of the field. From right-center to left-center, because that’s where my swing goes.
Go read the entire interview. Jay Bruce is a thoughtful guy about his craft.