Coming into Tuesday night’s game in New York, Matt Davidson was hitting a mystifying, albeit successful, .355/.364/.742 to go along with a 16:1 K/BB ratio. In 33 PAs, that means he had put the ball in play only 15 times, but had registered 11 hits including five for extra bases when he did. Davidson is clearly aware that although he’s off to a strong start, work remains to be done. I had a chance to speak with him prior to Tuesday’s game:
Q: You’ve gotten off to a good start this year and you’re making adjustments to the major leagues, is there anything in particular that you’re finding that you have to adjust to the most in terms of velocity, command anything like that in particular?
A: Yeah definitely I think the command is obviously a lot better up here, you know you look back at your at bats and whether it went good or bad and a lot of times a bad one or a non productive one you probably didn’t get very many pitches to hit or if any. I think that’s the biggest thing right now. For me, the adjustment as far as your approach is looking for what you want and where you want it and not deviating from it. And because they really don’t make too many mistakes up here and when they do those are the ones you need to hit. I think that’s been the biggest thing, approach and really trying to make my strike zone smaller. As young hitters, up here, I think a lot of us the scouting report would be to make us swing ourselves into bad counts, kind of nibble a little bit and see if we’ll chase. You see a lot of the really good hitters, the really polished hitters, guys who’ve been here for a while they don’t swing at a lot of bad pitches so I think that’s definitely the key.
Q: So is it more the mental component of learning how they’re going to attack you rather than any mechanical adjustments or anything like that?
A: Yeah for sure, that’s the biggest thing, I think in the minor leagues you just get more pitches to hit, you see a little more mistakes, more pitches out over the plate, especially later in the count or something. Maybe you get two or three an at-bat there, here you might get one. Stuff like that. So where sometimes when you’re getting more strikes that’s obviously a bit easier to hit. More pitches that are easy to handle. You obviously have a better success rate, rather than if you’re getting one or so an at-bat, you know these guys have really good stuff.
Q: Do you find with the advanced scouting and level of competition—you’ve shown power to all fields, have you noticed changes in how they’re trying to get you out, or is it still too early?
A: I think it’s still pretty early, you know, but I think most teams have pitched me kind of similar, you know when I do strike out or I have a non-productive at-bat, I chase myself into bad counts. I’ll swing at pitches and they’re not really bad, they’re a ball off or a ball down, with a strike zone a little smaller in the big leagues. Consistently the umpires are a little bit better, so you’re getting a smaller zone but the pitchers are say, just a ball off you gotta take that pitch rather than swing at that and foul it off, and you’re in 0-1 rather than 1-0. Little stuff like that.
Make them come to you. It’s obviously a lot easier said than done, but trying to get more in the zone. For me, a nasty pitch and a tough pitcher’s pitch, even the best of us aren’t really going to hit that. The best hitters lay off of that and wait for a pitch that they can handle.
Q: Are you finding yourself saying — if they do make a mistake you’re not necessarily looking for it because you’ll just pull the trigger on it as opposed to guarding against pitches you’re concerned about? Or are there certain pitches where you say hey if he can throw this I’m not going to try to swing at it because I can’t hit it?
A: It’s definitely tough finding where you need to be. You want to be looking for what you want and really selling out on that. Looking at your zone and your zone only. When you’re looking for everything you tend to react to everything rather than when you’re looking for whatever you want or more of a smaller zone, and you’ll react to less. That’s what I’m trying to do, strengthen my zone to where I’m reacting to only what I want to swing at and not necessarily everything.
Q: Has there been anything —not necessarily new, but — about say a two-strike approach or anything that the coaching staff has you looking out for?
A: As a whole group Ricky (Renteria) has been preaching choking up and making adjustments to each player, what they need to do Everybody’s a little different. But really, they’re going to make those tough pitches on two strikes and you just have to lay off them and not chase. That comes down to the approach and really what you’re looking for. Sometimes I’m definitely guilty of trying to protect too much and that’s when, like I said earlier, I’ll react to even more because I’m trying to protect more. So I’m trying to take a step back and kind of protect against less and more in the strike zone rather than not worrying about everything so I don’t necessarily react to so much.
Q: Are you finding, even getting regular reps in the last few weeks, are you noticing greater comfort on your end, just saying ‘Hey, I have a better idea of what’s coming at the next pitch,’ or is it still pitcher-to-pitcher, game-to-game?
A: You know playing every day definitely helps for sure, but I’ve been taking the same approach, just do my work every day, just trying to take it by at-bat and pitch-by-pitch, not think too much about it.
Q: Do you feel any difference in your preparation or comfort level whether you’re playing in the field or DH, or are you fine switching between or something else?
A: No I’m totally fine doing everything, like I said I do the same thing every day as far as BP and ground balls and stuff like that. Try to keep it consistent. You know, if my name’s called, I’m ready, and if not, I still may be coming in later in the game, so always gotta be in the game no matter what.
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