An odd thing happened for Wilson a few years ago. He said he found himself observing hitters in a different way. In a more … well … scientific manner.
“I started to watch a batter’s hands and feet, his elbow and shoulders, his swing pass. Then, depending on your pitcher and what pitch he’s about to throw, you know what the hitter is most likely to do,” he said.
“I got good enough that in Pittsburgh, they let me set the infield defense. I moved an outfielder one time and one of the coaches asked why. I showed him the video of the hitter’s first swing and said, ‘Look at that. There’s no way he was going to be able to pull a ball with that swing.’ After that, they trusted me.”
It was more than study in the field. Wilson read up on the opposition.
“If a guy is in a slump, for instance, what’s he going to try to do? Keep the ball up the middle, go the other way. That’s how you try to get out of a slump,” Wilson said. “Pulling the ball gets you into slumps, it doesn’t get you out. So if a guy is in a slump, it doesn’t make sense to play him to pull.”
Then, there’s the matter of the pitcher.
“If your pitcher has a good change-up, 90 percent of them are going to be pulled, because guys are going to be out in front of them,” Wilson said. “So you watch each pitch call and adjust, you let your third baseman know what’s coming.”
And now, an evaluation of the man Wilson replaced in Seattle, Royals' new shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, and his role in the Royals' loss last night (with photographic evidence!):
Betancourt can't field balls hit up the middle on the shortstop side of second base, even if the second baseman can reach them. He can't field balls hit into the hole. I must be missing some of those "other factors" like defensive positioning and what not, although I'm not sure what positioning gives you problems with balls up the middle and in the hole.
I don't watch as many games as Dayton Moore's scouts or Willie Bloomquist's memory, though, so you should draw your own conclusions.
To be fair to Dayton Moore, however, it's not like Jack Wilson was available for the Royals to acquire instead of Betancourt. Oh, he was? Well, it's important to remember that if the Royals had gotten Wilson, they wouldn't have been able to keep Mike Jacobs or Miguel Olivo or Mark Teahen next year. Oh, noes!
Royals, our feelings about you at this point can be summed up thusly:
(Articles found via The Book blog.)