The Potentially Underrated Tyler Goeddel

The Phillies are a difficult team to watch right now. The unexpected, early season run is over, the briefly dominant pitching has taken a few steps backwards, and the offense has slowly ground to a complete halt. The upper levels of the minors seem to be teeming with exciting prospects, but we’re stuck in limbo until the front office deems them ready to handle a major league job. The only fun in watching a game these days is following the few players on the team that have both youth and potential still on their side. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see one such young player, Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel, riding the bench on a regular basis.

Goeddel has an offensive profile that tends to fly under the radar. Players of this type often lack a standout tool, but thrive by doing things well across the board. The offense provided by these underrated hitters often revolves around good plate discipline, frequent contact, and power that is more doubles than home runs.

Goeddel already does two of these things well. His 24.6% swing rate on pitches outside of the strike zone is second on the Phillies only to the ever patient Carlos Ruiz, and ranks in the top 20% across the entire league. His contact rate, while not overwhelming as a season-to-date total, has shown a marked improvement since the beginning of May, when Goeddel seemed to catch up to the speed of major league baseball. And since that time, it has sat on the better side of the league average.

O-Swing% BB% Contact% Swinging Strike%
April 22.6% 0.0% 61.7% 16.8%
May 25.9% 6.3% 82.4% 9.6%
June 23.2% 6.1% 81.5% 8.1%

The missing piece for Goeddel is the quality of contact, and this may be a simple matter of getting more reps at the plate. But there’s an aspect of his pitch selection that could also use some refinement. With a swing built for hitting more line drives than home runs, Goeddel’s approach is a bit puzzling.

Goeddel FB Swing Rate

Geoddel is extremely aggressive on fastballs up and in. While the purposeful nature of the approach is encouraging, the choice of location is questionable. High fastballs lead to very low contact rates, and Goeddel’s own results don’t contradict that notion.

Goeddel FB Contact Rate

A hitter with his profile should be chasing contact and line drives, and to that end he should be looking further out over the plate and further down in the zone. We’re dealing with a pretty limited sample, but there’s a notable trend starting to emerge in his results. The below pitch map displays the location of all the hard line drives Goeddel has hit this year, using a 95 mph minimum exit velocity as our criteria for considering the contact as hard hit.

Goeddel Line Drives

There are two observations to make here. The first is the empty white space up and in, the area where Goeddel is currently taking a large majority of his swings. The second is the grouping of hard liners that are coming on pitches middle-away, an area he swings at with less frequency. Incidentally, this group of line drives accounts for six of his eight extra base hits this year.

This is the part of zone to which Goeddel should be shifting his focus, taking the high and inside strikes if necessary to wait for a pitch out over the plate. Not only would he be squaring up more baseballs, but his overall rate of contact would stand to improve by avoiding those low contact pitches up in the zone.

The profile built around walks, few strikeouts, and driving the ball to the gaps doesn’t draw a lot of fanfare, but it’s a skill set that can provide significant offensive value. With a clear understanding of the strike zone, a good feel for contact, and a focused approach at the plate, Goeddel has the potential to become a solid offensive contributor on a team that is desperate for offense. Yet for some reason, the at-bats he needs to realize that potential are being given to players with no future or present value to the team. Perhaps the offensive qualities that Goeddel brings are also flying under the radar of team management. If that’s the case, we’re all in for a long, unwatchable second half of the season.

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9 comments

  1. Romus

    June 20, 2016 07:48 AM

    Like Featherston is doing at LHV this season, after a below par Rule 5 year last year with the LAA…….perhaps Goeddel could stand to experience that next season. That could be what is in Matt Klentak’s long-range plan.

    • Eddie

      June 20, 2016 11:35 AM

      Not at all similar; Featherston was playing poorly on a team that was in contention. It made sense to stick him at the end of the bench. The Phils are a) going nowhere and b) Goeddel is already as good or better than Paredes/Bourjos/Asche.

      • Romus

        June 20, 2016 01:23 PM

        Huh?
        Asche just came back a few weeks ago, with 56 PAs, why not give him a little time.
        Bourjos is one of the leaders on the team in hitting for June.
        Paredes has 39 PAs.
        Understand they are not going nowhere….but Goeddel is not setting the world on fire.
        And Featherston was a Klentak draftee last year and the results so far, defense aside, have been very good at LHV.
        But will see what happens out of ST in 2017

      • Eddie

        June 20, 2016 10:02 PM

        Cody Asche has over a 1,000 PAs in the majors, and the results have been remarkably consistient … how much more time do you want to give him? Year by year OPS+ 91, 94, 98, 89. He is what he is, and that’s a bench bat.

        It’s nice that Bourjos has had a good couple of weeks, after having been pretty much the worst starter in all of baseball for two solid months. Bourjos is 29, and certifiably lousy since 2013. He is what he is, and that’s a guy that needs to be released.

        Paredes is a 27 year old utility guy.

        Goeddel is currently pretty mediocre … but he’s 23, and his future is unwritten. For that reason alone, you play him.

        And I don’t know why you’d wait until next year on Featherson … Cesar Hernandez has about 1000 ABs, and he pretty much is what he is, too. By next year Valentin and Crawford may be in the IF mix. I’d dump him and let Featherson play 2B now.

      • Romus

        June 21, 2016 08:59 AM

        -
        -10

        Goeddel just happens to be the latest newest toy for the fans to grasp on
        There was a reason the Rays did not protect on their 40 and he was a first round guy
        He may not even be on the team come July 2017, if Altherr, Williams and Cozens are still in play. And then throw in Quinn if he ever stays healthy.

  2. David

    June 20, 2016 01:51 PM

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been asking myself (and others) why he’s been sitting for the better part of the past 2 weeks (seemingly since about the time that Paredes arrived and Asche returned). As you’ve explained, it doesn’t really make sense — as you’d think they’d want to get him more MLB reps (particularly given how he’d been improving through May). I actually thought that he might be hurt (though I haven’t seen if anyone has asked that question of Mackanin or Klentak).

    Anyway, I agree completely with your thesis that seeing the development of Goeddel, Joseph, VV, etc. is already this season’s primary draw and value, not only for fans but for the club as well. Seems strange that TG is not seeing more playing time.

  3. Ed

    June 20, 2016 03:07 PM

    Not sure of the thinking but it’s painful to watch Asche go out everyday and basically suck. His defense is atrocious and his hitting doesn’t compensate. Although Goeddel seems overmatched sometimes he is a more complete player than Asche.

  4. Michael C Lorah

    June 20, 2016 03:22 PM

    To me, Goeddel should be playing every day. Asche, Paredes and Bourjos aren’t tearing the cover off the ball. If one of them were, there might be a argument otherwise, but given the make-up of this team and the guys likely to have any role at all in the future, I think Goeddel merits the most observation time.

    Also, for whatever it’s worth, when he was playing every day for a few weeks, he really picked it up and did pretty well. He never got his overall numbers to the level of playoff-caliber starter, but I saw enough to make me want to see more. I can’t say the same of Asche (who, credit where credit is due among the lackluster outfield cast, has the highest non-Herrera OPS among the bunch), and he’s the only other guy likely to be around next season in any capacity.

  5. Milton T

    June 21, 2016 09:42 AM

    One of the reasons his previous team let him go is that his hitting is all po and little tential. He is not the next coming of Odubel Herrera who hits the ball hard to all fields and keeps the defense guessing. He might be a valuable extra on a team that has four or five blasters. Somebody has to get on base for them to drive in.

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