Last season we saw Ryan Schimpf blast home runs and extra base hits like he was taking batting practice. He hit 20 home runs, had 22 extra base hits, struck out 105 times, and walked just 42 times in 330 plate appearances. This season, however, he is taking a different approach at the plate.
It is still very early in the season, but in his 59 plate appearances thus far, Schimpf has walked a league-leading 15 times while striking out just 15 times. This early sample size puts the power hitter on pace to walk an incredible 88 times this season, while striking out the same amount of times. Its early, but his approach puts him on pace to hit 18 home runs, just two shy of what he hit last season. Schimpf has yet to get an extra-base hit that’s not a home run this season, but you can bet that will change soon.
Schimpf’s change of approach is important to his development and his numbers, but what you may not realize is that he can be the example for the younger hitters on the team. Young slugger, Hunter Renfroe, has yet to walk this season, though he has struck out 12 times in 59 plate appearances, team star Wil Myers has just one walk in 64 plate appearances, and future star, Austin Hedges, has just three walks in 46 plate appearances.
Last season, Wil Myers experienced his worst hitting month in August. He hit for just .216/.283/.361 with 36 strikeouts and just eight walks in 106 plate appearances. His best month came in June when he hit .327/.429/.765 with 11 home runs, 10 doubles, and 33 RBI. What else was significant about that month? Myers walked more times in that month than he did in any other month (19). He also struck out fewer times that month than any other (15). So it goes to show you, when Wil Myers is sitting back and waiting for his pitches is when he makes the most of his plate appearances.
When in Triple-A last season, Austin Hedges experienced the best hitting production in his career. He hit for .312/.339/.567 slash line with 21 homers, 22 XBH, and 83 RBI in 367 plate appearances. If you take a look at the month-to-month splits, his three best months, in terms of batting average, were April (.333), June (.412), and July (.309), when he combined for 11 total walks. His worst three were August (.272), September (.219), and October (.250), when he combined for just a single walk in the three months.
Hunter Renfroe has been consistently aggressive his entire career. He walked a total of 26 times with 135 strikeouts in his time in Triple-A, and he’s walked a total of just once with 17 strikeouts in his short time in MLB. As we know, Renfroe has amazing power, but his inability to be patient prevents him from getting on base consistently. If he can learn to be just a little bit patient, he can not only expand his game, but help the team bring in runs by getting on base.
Like I previously mentioned, we’ve seen the power that Ryan Schimpf possesses. Now this season, we’re getting a little taste of what it’s like when Schimpf can be patient and just get on base. With guys on the team struggling with their patience at the plate, Ryan Schimpf can use his new approach to not only step up and teach some of the more aggressive hitters on the team how to be patient, but he can actually show them first-hand the benefits of patience at the plate. And the rewards of doing so.