2011 New Year’s Resolution: Andres Torres, Make more contact

Now, MoreSplashHits doesn’t want to sound ungrateful for all Torres did in 2010. But every true champion looks for a way to get better. So we’ll offer this resolution for Andres to improve in 2011.

Torres is a little guy who swings a big bat — literally. His 35-inch, 36-ounce is one of the biggest in baseball.

He also swings a big bat, figuratively, for a small guy. He hit 16 home runs last season, was among the league leaders in doubles. His XBH average (percentage of total hits that were extra base hits) was above the league average — 11.8 for Torres,  7.9 MLB avg.

However, that power came at a cost — strikeouts.

Torres’ strikeout average was also above-average — 22.5 to the MLB average of 17.2. Torres hit .331 when he put the ball in play.

But it’s clear to see that his bat became heavier the longer the season went.

Torres had never had more than 185 plate appearances in his five previous MLB seasons. He spent 2006-2008 exclusively in the minors, where seasons are shorter.

In 2010, he had 570 PAs, and that was with a two-week layoff late in the season recovering from an appendectomy.

When Torres took over as the Giants’ full-time lead-off man in mid-May, he was hitting almost .300 with an on-base percentage of .400, numbers that you’d like to see from your leadoff man. He maintained a .280 avg and .370 OBP until August, then the numbers started to drop off.

Of his 35 games in which he struck out at least two times, 18 came after Aug. 1. Of his 10 games with three or more strikeouts, seven came after Aug. 1.

So, heading into 2011, Torres might want to consider a smaller bat. The Giants need him to be a lead-off hitter, use his speed to get on base and set the table for the offense. That means making better contact. If nothing else, Torres should consider choking-up with two strikes. Swing with purpose early in the count. But with two strikes, make contact. That’s your resolution.

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