What makes a double a double? How many different kinds of doubles are there? What does a double tell us about a player? These questions came to mind when contemplating Saturday night’s Lansing Lugnuts game. While the Lugnuts took the loss, they hit four doubles as a team and they were as different as they could be.
Let’s start with who hit the doubles. We had doubles from J.B. Woodman, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Christian Williams and Yeltsin Gudino. If you’ve read us here at Blue Jays from Away, you’ll know that these four players are vastly different.
Vlad is having an excellent year so far as the second youngest player in full-season baseball. The club’s #1 prospect, Vlad oozes power and poise and doubles are a major part (but not the only part) of his power game. Vlad has seven doubles and four home runs already, giving him a .229 ISO, which is where you want to see a young power hitter.
J.B. Woodman (who you’ll hear from on the Blue Jays from Away Podcast soon!) is also a well-touted prospect, and is having a solid year with a .284/.315/.412 slash line but has struck out almost 40% of the time. Despite that, Woodman consistently hits the ball hard with a BABIP of .450. Woodman has five doubles, a triple and two home runs this year with an ISO of .127, which isn’t bad but could be higher for someone with his kind of pop.
Christian Williams is a big, strapping left-handed hitting first baseman who has struggled to find his in-game power with just three doubles and no other extra-base hits in 105 plate appearances.
Yeltsin Gudino is a right-handed hitting middle infielder who is really the only player in this category who doesn’t have a lot of raw power. He’s got two doubles and a home run this year in 69 plate appearances.
So let’s talk about doubles. The first double of the game came from Christian Williams. I’ve watched him take batting practice and know that the raw power is in his bat but he’s been unable to access it consistently in games. The 6-foot-3, 210 pound first baseman uses the leverage in his swing and body to launch balls. But in the game, he fails to capitalize and has ISO (Isolated Slugging) marks of .098, .104, and .032 in his three seasons of professional baseball thus far.
On Saturday night, however, Williams’s double was possibly the most impressive. He launched a shot that I thought would leave the park but Cooley Law School Stadium is quite large and has high walls. This shot hit well up on the wall (at least 15-20 feet up) just to the right of dead center field, where there’s a distance sign marked at 407 feet. While one double isn’t a trend, if Williams can consistently make contact like that, he’s going to see his stock increase quickly, particularly because that double would be a home run most places.
The next double was Yeltsin Gudino’s. Gudino has historically hit for much less power over the course of his career but he could be finding a little groove. With ISOs of .022, .081, .032 and this year, .072, no one will mistake him for a power hitter but you could argue that he’s trending up.
From watching Gudino over the past couple of days, however, he seems to be hitting a lot the other way, especially in the air. The double was a bouncer that stayed inside the first base line (the other way for him) and allowed him to scamper to second. Gudino’s double will help him pad his power numbers but when looking at the quality of contact and how hard the ball was hit, he’s going to look to make some improvements there.
J.B. Woodman his his double in the ninth inning, launching it into the gap in right-center, the pull side for Woodman who’s a left-handed hitter. Woodman had been hitting the ball hard all game and has a very smooth, quick swing from the left side. While he’s also prone to the strikeout, when he does make contact, he’s been hitting the ball very hard.
This double is a typical J.B. Woodman double: hit hard, using the gaps. He hit a double on Friday night, this time going the other way to left field. When he cuts down his strikeouts, he’s going to be a very dangerous hitter.
Finally, we get to Vlad, who doubled following Woodman, bringing him home. While Williams’s double was an epic shot to center, Vlad’s was a laser beam off the left field wall. That laser beam had me wondering what the exit velocity was (didn’t find out) and, had it been hit higher, it could have had a chance to go out.
Vlad has had a shot recorded at 117 mph for the exit velocity, which is not just good, it’s fantastic and compares favourably with even the best major leaguers. Doubles like his from Saturday night are going to be fairly common place for the young slugger.
So what does this tell us about doubles? In our small sample size, we had two fairly typical doubles from typical doubles hitters (Vlad and Woodman). We had a pretty soft double that resulted from its location rather than how hard it was hit coming from a player who is not known for his power (Gudino) and we had a double that would have been a home run in most parks coming from a guy who oozes raw power but hasn’t been able to tap into it yet (Williams). All of these hits ended up going for two bases but they were all different and tell us different things about the player and situation.
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