Tyler Flowers is hitting .345/.406/.517 over his last nine games. That's something, even if it comes with the same luck of doinked singles and grounders finding holes that his helium-infused month of April was full of.
Flowers own words on the matter are rather vague, discussing feeling better and more comfortable, as people tend to be during a hot streak.
When Flowers gets more specific, he sounds like he's worried about reducing his typically monstrous strikeout total.
Todd Steverson seemed to echo Flowers' focus on playing protect after getting behind in the count leading to problems, such as the stretch from May through mid-July where he managed to undo all the gains a month of absurdist batted ball luck had provided him.
As natural as it is for someone who is striking out at a ghastly 36% rate to be looking at ways to make more contact, it's also kind of distressing. He's hopeless. He has a big, long, hitchy swing, and good contact is just going to elude it. He can try to cover the plate, and slap line drives to all fields and maybe he'll improve, but he'll never be nearly as good as the vast majority of the league is at it, because he's got too many factors working against him.
Emerging from the minors, Flowers had two useful skills/tools at the plate, taking walks and huge raw power. With a 6.8% walk rate (below average) and slap-hitter like .092 ISO, he's not doing much with either. His swing rate and tendency to chase out of the zone have both flown way beyond where he was when he first debuted, and during this "hot streak" little of this self-sabotaging approach has changed.
Flowers took a 3-2 bender inside from Samuel Deduno for a bases loaded walk Thursday night, giving him all of two walks in this 32 plate appearance stretch, and while he's hit five doubles over this time, they're of the type I'd expect Adam Eaton to hit.
Those two green dots in left-center, are crisp line drives that found the gap. Two more of those green dots along the foul line are hot grounders that shot past the third basemen. These are good hits and Tyler should be proud of them, but he's not lifting the ball over anyone's head, when he has more than the requisite ability to. Just like Jose Abreu's laser beam double Thursday night in Minnesota, which looked liked a flare to right that just kept carrying, the ball just goes farther when Flowers puts it into the air. He's not doing anything with this skill.
I don't know if the all-or-nothing approach that Flowers embraced more in 2011 and 2012 as a backup would have worked in full-time action, I suspect it would not have, but at least it would have focused on what he's actually good at. Having him be aggressive early in the account, shorten up to play protect and strive to make contact is an idea that seems dead on arrival, and his last two seasons are not much of a rebuke of that notion.
Tyler got into a Bruce Chen offering Tuesday night, he uppercutted a hanging curve and lifted it just foul of the left field pole, but deep enough that it smacked off the wall of club section. Even in a city that's been gawking at Abreu all season, it elicited audible gasps from the crowd. It was a rare moment when Flowers stood out from his peers.
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