A country singer waxes patriotic in the opening scene of the excellent movie Nashville by Robert Altman. The refrain concludes with the great line, "We must be doing something right to last 200 years!"
I don't know what makes me laugh more, is it the uncertainty of the sentence or is it that 200 years is an infancy when you compare to the longevity of many other countries around the world? It is, we can say, a small sample size and, even still, according to the song, we're not sure what we did to get this far.
The same thing can be said of Tyler Colvin and his 33 ABs this year. For the most part, he's looked pretty good so far. So how did he get here? And will it last? It is still early but I'm going to say that I like what I've seen of Tyler Colvin in just 33 ABs. In fact, I really like what he did in his last 3 ABs yesterday. I think he's gotten better since spring training. Here's why in terms of a pitch-by-pitch analysis of his 3rd at bat.
Pitch 1: Fastball outside, taken for a ball
Pitch 2: Low changeup...a pitch he usually swings at and gets out in front of. This time he takes it. Ball 2.
Pitch 3: A slider on the inside corner. A strike, but not the pitch he wanted. 2-1
Pitch 4: A fastball low and outside, the kind of pitch he sometimes chases. Not this time. 3-1
Pitch 5: A fastball just below his knees that should have been called a ball. But since Colvin's a rookie, he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt. The ump calls it a strike. Full count.
Pitch 6: An 83 mph changeup, up in the strike zone. Even though he was probably expecting a 3-2 fastball, Colvin kept his hands back and hit a sharp groundball that gets past Prince Fielder for a single.
I love that AB. Probably my favorite of the day. That is the kind of AB that gives me hope about Colvin more than the 2b or the Hr. I already know he can hit pitcher's mistakes. I'm more excited about him working the count, laying off tempting pitches (even when they are pitcher's strikes), then keeping his hands back and staying on a changeup - a pitch that would have fooled many rookies - and hitting it hard enough to get through for a single.
In his 4th AB, Colvin walked on 4 pitches. It is his 4th walk in his 37th plate appearance. It's early but that makes for about an 11% walk rate. If Colvin can keep that up, we should see him continue to get even better.
In his 5th AB, Colvin saw a total of 7 pitches before lining out sharply to Fielder.
All 3 of those ABs could have ended in walks had Colvin gotten some borderline calls, but the important thing for him is that he continues to take more and more pitches -- a departure from his minor league days - even his Spring Training days. Here's hoping Colvin keeps that approach: Some will result in walks and some will result in better swings and sharply hit balls, all will result in good ABs and better pitches to hit. Maybe it's Rudy Jaramillo, maybe it's the veteran presence of hitters like Lee and Byrd, maybe Colvin had an epiphany.
One things for sure, even though it's only been a month, Colvin must be doing something right...