When younger players arrive in the majors and have almost instant success, they almost always have a period where they struggle after a while. The opposition picks up on holes in their swing, or pitching pattern, forcing those players to adjust. That ability to adjust may be what allows one prospect to reach his potential while another fades away. Wil Myers has been able to acquaint himself to the majors quite well thus far, producing a .290/.352/.467 batting line while placing second among American League rookies in RBI despite playing in only 60 games thus far. Although he has struck out 73 times heading into last night’s games, Myers has displayed an ability to make solid contact relatively consistently and become a key part of the Rays’ lineup. Yet, there may be a potential flaw with Myers that is just starting to be exploited.
Myers has an open batting stance which he never really closes when he swings. Coupled with his extremely upright position in his stance, Myers leaves himself susceptible to pitches on the lower outside corner. He simply can’t reach them, and the results have been disastrous when he has been pitched there. Looking at Myers’ zone profile from Brooks Baseball, that point gets driven home quite clearly.
Looking at the box that is second from the left on the bottom row, we see that Myers has a 22.22% whiff rate on pitches below the outer third of the third zone, his highest of of any of the 25 zones. While that spot can be problematic for any right handed hitter, Myers’ stance makes getting to that type of pitch even more difficult. Pitchers have started to exploit that even more since August 10th.
Looking at that same spot, Myers’ whiff rate has more than doubled to a ridiculous 53.85%. Pitchers keep going there to put him away, and Myers has simply been unable to adjust. Last night’s game against the Red Sox showed Myers’ deficiency down and away in action. The Red Sox spent most of his plate appearances setting up pitches low and away to finish him off. While he was able to foul off a few pitches that missed the spot, Myers also struck out three times, including a strikeout in the ninth inning in that exact spot. If you’re looking for a reason why Myers has hit only .211/.318/.386 since August 21st, this could very well be it.
Eventually, Wil Myers is likely going to have to make adjustments to his batting stance. He is incredibly talented, but major league teams have found the hole in his swing created by his stance, and he has to adapt as soon as possible. This is the what happens to even the most highly-touted prospects once they arrive in the big leagues. Let’s see if Wil Myers can adjust.