Woodrey: Breaking Down ACC’s Top BatsAnalysis
We’re not yet to the halfway mark of the regular season, and already it is easy to see that the ACC is loaded with talent offensively. A shift to a hitting-heavy ACC is in progress; the conference previously was renowned for its polished pitching. This spring has been host to a serious power surge thus far, and across the board teams are benefiting from an increase in production from the middle of the lineup. Through just five weeks, there are currently nine players with more than five home runs in the ACC, making up roughly one-fifth of the 46 players in the country that currently hold this standing. Similarly, the ACC lays claim to the nation’s three leading RBI producers, and many others amongst the leaders for categories such as slugging percentage, total bases, doubles and runs.
To get an idea of how fearsome the ACC’s top sluggers are: Georgia Tech’s Joey Bart and Virginia Tech’s Sam Fragale are currently tied as the nation’s leading home run hitters with nine apiece, yet they aren’t included in the list below. Similarly, Wake Forest has a pair of sluggers in Johnny Aiello and Gavin Sheets who have recorded eight and seven home runs respectively, and also didn’t make the list. We provided a glimpse of some very special hitters in the ACC with last week’s breakdown of the powerful Florida State lineup, but here’s a breakdown of some of the other most fearsome hitters in the conference.
Seth Beer, Clemson
You can’t talk about dangerous hitters in the ACC and not expect Beer to be heading the list. The outfielder is off to a slow start, relatively speaking, simply because teams are being cautious. His .250 batting average is far outshined by his .484 on base percentage, and his five home runs give hope for matching his total of 18 a year ago. Not many first-year college players can adapt to college pitching as quickly as Beer did — especially not elite ACC pitching, and definitely not in what should be in their senior year of high school.
The lefthanded hitter stands slightly open in the box before stepping to even and then closing off with his two-tap load. This, along with a little help from his ridiculous bat speed, allows him to drive the ball to the opposite field as well as showcase his big league pull-side power. Beer keeps his hands in close to his body, and his back elbow up high. He has a slight hitch in his swing where he brings the barrel of the bat forward nearly pointing the cap at the pitcher before swinging. This typically presents a hole in a hitter’s swing for a pitcher to expose, but if controlled it allows a hitter to elevate and drive any pitch. This is why Beer is arguably the best low-ball hitter in the country, a trait that will make his transition to the next level much more simple. I’ve seen a similar hitch first-hand in the form of former Miami slugger Zack Collins, who was consistently amongst the nation’s leading power hitters in his three-year career.
Thankfully Beer’s first year was my last. In 2016, Beer went 0-for-2 with a walk against me. My approach was simple, make Beer beat himself or take his walk. As previously mentioned, keeping the ball low is not enough to limit the power-hitting lefty, and only elite velocity can beat him up in the zone (for those unfamiliar – my velocity was far from elite). I had the benefit of having the advantage of the left-on-left matchup, and used my tailing fastball to attack Beer. I threw him strictly inside with the philosophy that it was better put him on base via HBP than leave it over the plate and surrender a big hit. Though his hands are advanced, Beer’s weakest point might be balls breaking or two-seamers tailing into him. I was able to jam him twice, but pitchers beware: a couple inches more over the plate and Beer WILL punish you.
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