Matt Joyce's secret to success? Jerking it before BP.
Photo Credit: mwlguide
Matt LaPorta vs. Matt Joyce may not seem like a headline match worthy of the first-ever SOR edition of "Beef: The Series," but look closely and you'll see two young warriors ready to eat each other's innards.
Both players were deep power sleepers heading into the season. A lot of owners straight up ignored them. Yet here we are already dipping into May and both players are showing signs of a breakout.
We'll start with the Rays OF, whose fans shall henceforth be known as the "Joyce Luck Club." The power numbers aren't quite there (two HRs, 11 RBIs, and .167 ISO in 94 PAs), but he's hitting .345 and has somehow stolen three bases (he had three steals in 180 games between 2008 and 2010). He's swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone (21.6 O-Swing%), but he's actually swinging more (career-high 49.6 Swing%) and missing more too. He's whiffing at 12.6 percent of the pitches he sees, up from 9.3 last year when he hit a "robust" .241. Yet when he's hitting the ball, he's doing way more damage than he ever has in his MLB career. Toting a 26.6 LD%, it's easy to see why his BABIP is sitting at .345. Since he's driving the ball with authority, his HR production should increase. Remember, this is a dude who owns a career .232 ISO and 13.5 HR/FB.
LaPorta doesn't have the fancy-schmancy high BA that Joyce is rocking, but he is showing more power. With four HRs, a .227 ISO, and an extra base hit in 11 of his 24 hits, LaPorta is also doing work at the plate. While Joyce is clearly doing a little something different in his approach, LaPorta is pretty much staying the course with what he did last year, making minimal gains in plate patience peripherals (though he has cut down his K% from 21.8 percent last year to 19.3). Fortunately for LP, he's locked in as an everyday player with the Indians, while Joyce is on relatively shaky ground in that department.
Winner: Matt LaPorta via a Rikishi "Stink Face."
While Joyce may be making gains in his game, he's still sitting too often against LHPs and could be one Desmond Jennings call-up away from bench duties. LaPorta isn't a superstar by any means, but if he keeps up his HR pace, he'll be a more-than-serviceable player in five OF leagues and perhaps more if he taps into that former top prospect potential.
As for Joyce, it would be nice if the team gave him a legitimate shot at being a full-time starter, but when you have a .154 career BA against lefties, it ain't hard to see why the organization isn't ready to jump for Joyce. It's easy to boast brawny numbers when you are only facing opposite-hand pitchers, but real men hit lefties.