Toronto Blue Jays: Dwayne Murphy's Hitting Strategy Ruining the Jays' Hitters?

Brad LeClairCorrespondent IApril 24, 2011

One of the exceptions to the rule, Jose Bautista, accepting his Silver Slugger Award from hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.
One of the exceptions to the rule, Jose Bautista, accepting his Silver Slugger Award from hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Sitting at a cool 9-11 record, the Toronto Blue Jays have started out fairly well this season, despite a very difficult schedule, injuries and lastly, an infusion of young talent into a relatively unsettled lineup.

With that young lineup and changeover on the Jays roster, there is bound to be some bumpy parts of the road right?

Right now, the Jays are about the middle of the pack in just about any offensive category that Major League Baseball records. It's nothing great to note, but it's also not that bad.

Still though, with the current lineup and level of experience amongst this group, the Dwayne Murphy or Cito Gaston school of hitting is probably not the right approach Jays batters should be taking at the plate given the experience the club has.

The school teaches you to sit on a certain pitch and when you get it, unleash your stored up power and give it all you got.

This would usually result in either a swinging strike or a long ball last year. Given the extra experience and level of maturity of last years' team, this school of hitting was proven successful after the season was over, with the club leading the Majors in home runs with 257.

However, the club was nearly in the last one third of the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage and walks. They were dead last also in sacrifice hits.

Fast forward to this season: The Jays power numbers have seen a noted decrease and to help relieve the extra power loss, the Jays have decided to run the bases better this season.

It's a good start, but still the fundamentals in the box to me are still lacking greatly.

The Jays' "Grip It and Rip It" concept on pitches you sit on and works in some instances, but most of the time, Jays hitters look lost. They have transformed Jose Bautista with this concept, but he appears to be the only one with any success at it. His eye is incredible, which lends itself perfectly to this school of hitting.

But for most Jays hitters, like J.P. Arencibia, Travis Snider, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind, who don't like to take a lot of pitches, the level of impatience is just killing their batting averages.

Snider is sitting well below .200, as is Juan Rivera. Arencibia started out hot but has since cooled and lastly, Lind and Hill have been a shadow of their former self following great 2009 seasons in which both hit over 30 home runs and averaged over .270.

My best observation right now, since the team is young, is to use a modified Murphy system where you sit on a pitch for your first pitch. And if you get it, go ahead and swing, but if not, take it.

On each successive pitch, you look at location, rather than type and go with the pitch.

If the ball is out over the plate, slightly above the knees, you serve it opposite field. You take what the pitcher gives you in other words.

Right now, most Jays hitters sit on the fastball and most of the time are letting hanging breaking balls and other easy pitches pass because it wasn't their pitch they were looking for.

It's how the Jays go from a 0-1 count to striking out on three pitches, because they are usually sitting on the same pitch they were when the at bat started.

Jays hitters should look to think more along with the pitcher, rather than sit on a mistake in hopes of improving their consistency and hopefully winning more games as a result.

That strategy is mostly for power hitters and the Jays right now, outside of Jose Bautista, have not been blasting baseballs out of stadiums.