Dear Marcus Thames, the Tigers need your power. Please, move closer to the plate.
I'm not an expert, ladies and gentlemen, at least not yet. However, one does not need to be an expert to believe what his eyes tell him.
There is something I have noticed for a while now that could be remedied, to the tune of even more power production from Thames. For American League pitching, that is a scary thought. AL pitchers are already used to turning around and watching him trot 360 feet.
In my opinion, Thames needs to crowd the plate closer.
Here is a play-by-play dramatization that happens quite frequently to end Thames' at-bats.
"Here comes the 2-2 pitch. It's a breaking ball away. Thames hits a towering pop fly off the end of the bat. He slams the bat down in frustration and begins to trot toward first base. The center fielder glides over to make the easy catch, Thames retired for the third time now on easy fly ball outs."
What is the skinny? Thames likes to hit home runs; he is good at that. Pitchers do not like to give up home runs. Therefore they try to stay away from the fat part of his bat. There are two ways to do so: pitch him away or bust him inside.
Pitching him inside can be a dangerous idea, mainly because he can usually get to that pitch. If he doesn't hit it a long way fair, he can usually foul it off and try to get another good pitch to hit.
I can tell you that the scouting says that the money lies in pitching him away. Oh, sure, he has launched some pretty good pitchers' pitches that were away over the wall, but most of the time that is the best way to try to get him out.
Thames stands too far away from the plate for the type of hitter he is.
His plate coverage is actually pretty decent for the outer third of the strike zone, but here is where the difference lies: most right handed hitters will take the pitch away and try to slap it into right field or drive it up the middle.
That is not the kind of hitter Thames is, and everyone knows that.
Thames could greatly increase his damage potential by stepping closer to the plate, so that he can reach the outside pitch with the barrel of his bat and crush it.
If pitchers start busting him inside as a result, he can crush those pitches too, or foul them off and try again.
Since Carlos Guillen has returned from the DL, Thames playing time has decreased. It is time for him to really make the playing time he does get count for something more.