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About Last Night: Abraham Toro, power hitter

Is Toro turning a corner?

Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

My love of Abraham Toro is well known. During last night’s game, I stepped out after the top of the eighth inning to work on my thesis. I shouldn’t have.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Abraham Toro launched a game-tying home run to right. I didn’t miss it for too long, however, as the good people of the sLLack were quick to alert me.

good advice, thank you connor and grant

Also, note ZAM’s use of “ATOB,” which of course stands for “Abraham Toro, Our Beloved.” And here I’m given another opportunity to post my favorite gif.

It was a great moment, one that all Toro truthers will remember and talk about for ages. It also gave us yet another example of the Toro Eyes:

is he even doing a bit of an eyebrow raise there or am i seeing things?

But I also want to break down Toro’s homer, and get on my soapbox and advocate for something exciting.

It’s no secret that Toro has been struggling at the plate in the first month of this season. He’s currently rocking a .232 OBP and just a 56 wRC+. He was the holder of MLB’s worst BABIP of .137 going into last night’s game. Those are bad numbers. Icky, gross, and vomit inducing numbers. I do not like them. Toro is just not getting results at the plate.

But I’m also not worried about him. You’ll be able to read more about this in another piece that’s going to be published Soon™, but I’m fairly convinced that Toro is trying a new, power focused approach at the plate.

Digging into Toro’s Statcast stats, we can see that his Barrel % has gone up nearly by nearly 2% of PAs, and his xSLG has shot up almost 70 points. He’s also seemed to follow Mikey Ajeto’s advice, and started pulling the ball more and going oppo less.

So what’s the problem? What isn’t working? What can we point to and blame for the 103 point deficit between his wOBA and xwOBA?

The thing that jumps out to me is that Toro’s been getting more breaking balls and fewer fastballs. He’s been whiffing at these pitches far more than any other type, and when he does make contact with breaking stuff, it’s usually weak contact that leads to an out. This is a pretty surprising development compared to last year, where he crushed breaking balls for a .334 wOBA on just that pitch type.

This change is evidence to me that Toro is trying a new power swing out. You can also tell this with the eye test. He’s been seriously overswinging at sliders recently, trying to pull every pitch over the fence. In a postgame interview after he hit his first homer of the season, Toro talked about how he felt like he was overswinging and had to remind himself to be, as he put it, “short to the ball.”

I think he’s working that out. The clutch home run last night came on a slider, that admittedly, was hanging on a string and begging to be sent 400 feet. But good players punish mistakes, and that is exactly what Toro did last night.

Which brings me to my aforementioned soapbox: Abraham, if you’re reading this (first of all hi, love your work), become a full time lefty hitter. It’s where you get your best hits from and where you have your power. Once the weather warms and the ball (hopefully) starts flying more, batting lefty is where you’re going to find success and where your expected stats are going to start matching the actual ones.

Just give it a shot for me, ok? I’d really like to post the gif more.