Understanding Luke Scott’s Slump

By Robbie Knopf

It has been sad to watch Luke Scott over the last few days. He went onto the DL in a little slump, going 0 for 12 in his last four games, and then when he came back he wasn’t hitting at the beginning. But then it just kept going. Now Scott has a piece of Rays history nobody wished he would have, breaking Jose Cruz‘s Rays record with an 0 for 36 slide. It’s been hard to watch Scott, and it’s been even harder to listen to him.

What has happened to Luke Scott and how can he break out of this slump?

Look at Scott’s spray chart (courtesy of TexasLeaguers) from before the slump and then since. The difference is pretty staggering.

Luke Scott is primarily a pull hitter. Looking at the balls he put onto play that ended up not leaving the infield, a clear majority is directed towards right field. But when you look at this flyballs from before the slump, he probably hits more to right field than anywhere else, but he hits significant margins to center and left field as well. Scott has opposite-field power in addition to pull power and prior to the slump he was able to take advantage of that. But since the slump, he hasn’t hit a single flyball to left field. Most notably, though, is how high a percentage of groundballs he has hit. Prior to the slump, 17.9% of Scott’s plate appearances ended in a groundout. Since the slump, that mark has jumped to 32.4%. Why has that been happening?

Scott has gotten pull-happy and that has especially hurt him against fastballs. Prior to the slump, Scott swung-and-missed at 9.5% of fastballs while putting 23.6% into play. Since the slump, Scott’s whiff rate on fastballs has almost doubled to 17.8% and he has put just 13.3% into play- yes, more swings and misses than balls in play. Why has that happened? These two videos may help us get a better idea.

In both videos, we see Scott get a pitch on the outer half, a fastball from a lefty pre-slump in the first one and apparently a changeup from a right-hander since the slump in the second one. The pitches are different, but the location is about the same. You look at Scott’s stance and his stride, and it’s all the same. But on the first pitch, Scott gives up on trying to pull it and drives it the other way while in the second one, even though it’s more away than the first, he tries to pull it and hits a groundball to second base. Scott wants nothing more than to get into a fastball a drill a homer into the right field seats to end his slump. But now he’s forcing it. He has lost his approach, trying to pull just about everything and ending up with nothing.

Luke Scott has to relax. The slump will end, and soon. But it’s not just a matter of waiting or something he just can’t control. Scott has to work to get his approach back. He has to stop pressing and let his natural talent come out.