Over the past week, Randal Grichuk has reminded us that he can swing the bat and specifically, swing the bat with authority.
On August 11th I posted an article about Randal Grichuk and his transformed approach thus far into the 2020 season. Noted that he had his lowest chase rates, his lowest whiff rates and that he was walking at a clip above league average. But one thing that was clearly missing from his profile, up to that point, was his power. Grichuk has always been known for his power, in fact, he had the longest three home runs by a Blue Jay from 2018 to 2019. I was kind of worried that he was sacrificing his power for a more patient approach. Fortunately, I was completely wrong or did not have all the information.
Over the past 7 days, Grichuk has put on a tremendous hitting display including plenty of power. On August 11th, he was batting .265/342/.265 (ie. his batting average was his slugging percentage) with a 78 wRC+. All his hits were meager singles. Over the past week, he has batted .435/.469/1.100 with 6 home runs, 2 doubles, and 2 walks.
Grichuk’s plate discipline has been maintained in the process as well. He is still walking more than 9% of plate appearances which is beating the league average. He is still chasing fewer pitches, swinging less, and whiffing than he has ever done in his entire career.
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This appears to be a complete change in his approach and I for one hope this can continue. Grichuk is about to turn 30 in less than a week, and if he wants to produce into his mid-30’s, plate discipline is a must. I am not insinuating that he is old because he’s not, I am just noting that plate discipline is a skill that ages more gracefully than some others.
Last week, I noted that he had yet to Barrel a ball up, per the stat cast metric and that he has normally ranked within the top 4% of barrel rates in the league. He is now back above his career rate of 12.5% Barrels/BBE (batted ball event) for the season with 6 barreled balls.
In this most recent series in Baltimore, Grichuk leads the Blue Jays to their first series sweep of the season, with 4 home runs, 6 hits, and 11 RBI. Yesterday, in the series finale, he hit two home runs. The first was a one-run shot leading off the second inning to get the Blue Jays on the board and off to an early lead. The second was a two-run shot in 6th to regain the lead, to which they would not relinquish.
Grichuk has been incredibly hot over this past week and I hope it continues. I imagine over time he will cool a little bit. But it is very nice to see that his power hasn’t gone away like I was worried about. It is also nice to see he is continuing to be patient at the plate. The Blue Jays will need him to continue to put good plate appearances together if they want to make it anywhere this season.
They are currently only half a game out of a playoff spot with the new 16 team playoff format for 2020. If Grichuk, can be just half of what he has been over the past week, and continue to play above-average to good defense in center field, I think it will go along way to the Blue Jays playing some meaningful games down the stretch.
The Blue Jay now head back to Sahlen Field in Buffalo for a doubleheader Thursday vs Philadelphia. Let’s hope Grichuk can continue putting that charge into the ball as he has over this past week.