James Loney Has Found His Power Stroke
In many ways it is fitting that James Loney was assigned the number 28 by the Mets. Loney is a left-handed contact hitter that has been pressed into action at first base by the Mets due to an injury. Throughout their careers, Loney and Daniel Murphy have been very similar hitters.
Coming into this season, Loney was a career .285/.338/.411 hitter who averaged 25 doubles and 10 homeruns. Murphy was a career .288/.331/.424 hitter who averaged 33 doubles and nine homeruns. The similarities do not end at the statistics. If you look at their stances and the approach at the plate, Loney and Murphy are very similar hitters. Here is a James Loney 2014 at bat:
As you can see, Loney stands fairly upright in his stance with his hands held high. Loney stands a little off the plate with a somewhat open stance. Here is a 2013 Daniel Murphy at bat:
Again, Murphy is fairly upright at the plate with his hands held high. He’s a little off the plate with a slightly open stance. Loney’s and Murphy’s stances are not identical, but they are very similar. Unsurprisingly, both had similar approaches at the plate. Both pulled inside pitches with some authority, but they would go the other way with outside pitches just hoping they would find a place to land.
Last year, Murphy linked up with Kevin Long, who has a reputation for unlocking player’s hidden power. Here is a look at Murphy’s updated stance from the 2015 postseason:
Murphy’s stance is now closed, and he’s in more of a crouch at the plate. The results have been terrific as Murphy has been hitting for more power. This year Murphy has been hitting .351/.394/.588 with 20 doubles and 14 home runs. The 14 home runs tie Murphy’s career high, and there is still more than half a season to play.
Kevin Long has now made similar adjustments to Loney’s stance. Here is one of his at bats from his short tenure with the Mets:
Now, the crouch in Loney’s stance is not as pronounced as Murphy’s. However, a crouch is still present, and Loney has closed his stance. From the looks of it, it appears that Kevin Long has applied to same principles he used with Daniel Murphy last year. So far, Loney appears to be hitting the ball with more authority when he makes contact.
The result is Loney hitting .297/.345/.495 with eight doubles and four homers. He hasn’t had a slugging percentage anywhere near this high since 2007.
Long has unlocked the power in Loney’s swing like he did with Murphy last year makes Loney is the perfect stopgap for Lucas Duda. If he keeps it up, the Mets are going to have to keep him on the roster and play him somewhere.
Editor’s Note: this was also published on metsmerizedonline.com