How uHIT Works
In The Minor Leagues
Where are they 5 years later?
Mar 10, 2023
Evan Mendoza (Player A), Andy Young (Player B) and Irving Lopez (Player C) used uHIT in 2018.
Below, we look at where they are now. And where they have yet to go.
Player A (Evan Mendoza)
We will review the before / after effects of uHIT first. This info is a summary of what’s included in our original case study on these players here. All on-field data for Evan is taken from here. We then look at what Evan has done since then.
2017 Season – Before using uHIT in A-Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OBP,/SLG): .270/.286/.419; OPS: .705
2018 Season – While using uHIT at High-A-Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OPB/SLG): .349/.394/.456; OPS: .850
Evan saw a Triple-Slash Line increase of +79/+108/+37 points and an OPS increase of +145 points while using an early version of uHIT Custom’s Zone Recognition Training. He saw this gain despite moving up from A-Ball to High-A-Ball, where the pitching is harder to hit.
What Has Evan Done Since 2018?
At the end of a successful 2018 implementation, Evan’s organization decided to pause its use of uHIT (no one ever said baseball was rational, despite what Moneyball may say!). So Evan connected with uHIT through the its Partnership Program for Professional Hitters (contact info@deCervo.com to learn more about this program) and he had uHIT Plus for the start of the 2019 season.
Again, we could compare two seasons of Evan’s on-field stats. But now, we were comparing two years in which he had used uHIT. Evan did 54 innings of uHIT Plus in 2019 vs. 251 innings of mostly uHIT Custom in 2018. Clearly, Evan did about -80% fewer innings in 2019, but would that affect his on-field performance? And why was he doing fewer innings?
We’ll get to those answers in a moment. But what about his on-field output, are we going to be able to compare 2019 vs. 2018 stats in the way we did for 2018 vs. 2017? Let’s look here:
- 2018 Season – While Using uHIT Custom at AA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line: .254/.315/.339′ OPS: .654
- 2019 Season – While Using uHIT Plus at AA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line: .248/.293/.311′ OPS: .604
At first glance, it’s clear Evan’s stats at the same level of pitching competition (AA-Ball) went down! But let’s take a closer look at his usage of uHIT and consider also his 2019 stats at AAA-Ball, one level higher:
- 2019 Season – After Using uHIT Plus at AAA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line: .313/.421/.375′ OPS: .796
Put with this new bit of information that Evan focused solely on using uHIT Plus to look at Major League level pitching. He abandoned his focus on uHIT Custom’s Zone Recognition, which gradually improved his abilities to recognize the zone. He jumped right to the harder pitching because he believed he was ready. So while the AA-Ball comparison shows a -50-point drop in OPS, his bump up to AAA-Ball, where the pitching is way tougher than in AA-Ball, landed him a +142-point boost in his OPS in 19 plate appearances at AAA, a respectable sample size to get a sense of his ability to hit at this level.
Where Can Evan Go From Here?
The first glimpse of Evan’s impact at AAA-Ball seemed promising, a +142-point boost in OPS from his AA-Ball numbers the year prior, and a +192-point OPS increase from his AA-Ball output that same year. But what’s Evan done since then and what’s his uHIT usage been like?
We all know that 2020 was a wash because of the Pandemic. 2021 and 2022 both would have been great seasons to see what lessons in Zone and Pitch Recognition stuck for Evan, and which ones needed refreshers. We’ve seen with other pro hitters that these lessons gained in uHIT Custom stick from year-to-year and don’t require continued practice to the same degree as when initially learning (see here for more details).
Unfortunately, we don’t have any record of Evan using either uHIT Plus or uHIT Custom during this time period. Let’s look at his Triple-Slash Line and OPS to get a sense of what lessons stuck and which ones, if any, may need a refresher:
- 2021 Season – While NOT Using uHIT Custom or uHIT Plus at AAA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line: .242/.305/.290; OPS: .596
- 2022 Season – While NOT Using uHIT Custom or uHIT Plus at AAA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line: .247/.348/.325; OPS: .673
As the on-field stats show, 2021 was a rough return for Evan to the field. He was inn the neighborhood of his 2019 AA-Ball numbers, but far off from where he left off in 2019 at AAA-Ball. Fortunately, in 2022, he turned things around, returning to an OPS that’s more like the middle of where he left off in the 2019 season (between AA-Ball and AAA-Ball stats).
uHIT was certainly NOT a factor in what Evan did between 2021 and 2022, but we can see from his on-field data that in 2021, his K/BB rate was almost 3 (yikes!), but in 2022 he got that way down to about 1. Still though, in 2021 and 2022, he grounded into double-digits numbers of double-plays (11 and 10), which is more than he ever did while playing any level of pro ball. This along with some other hints from his on-field tell us a return to uHIT Custom would make a huge impact and we hope to return to helping his journey to The Show soon.
Player B (Andy Young)
As before, we will review the before / after effects of uHIT first. This info is a summary of what’s included in our original case study on these players here. All on-field data for Andy is taken from here. We then look at what Andy has done since then.
2017 Season – Before using uHIT in High-A-Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OBP,/SLG): .265/.327/.388; OPS: .715
2018 Season – While using uHIT in High-A-Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OPB/SLG): .276/.372/.444; OPS: .850
Andy saw a Triple-Slash Line increase of +11/+45/+56 points and an OPS increase of +135 points while using an early version of uHIT Custom’s Pitch Recognition Training. These gains propelled him that year to move up from High-A-Ball to-AA-Ball, where the pitching is harder to hit:
2018 Season – While using uHIT in-AA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OPB/SLG): .319/.395/.556; OPS: .950
Clearly, 2018 was a banner season for Andy. He excelled so much that year that he was selected for the Arizona Fall League that year, and he was later wrapped into a three-player trade for slugger, Paul Goldschmidt.
What Has Andy Done Since 2018?
Things looked promising for Andy after the trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks. His Triple Slash Line and OPS showed that in 2019 he kept the progress going:
- 2019 Season – After Using uHIT Custom at AAA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line: .280/.373/.611′ OPS: .984
And for the COVID-shortened 2020 season, he got promoted to the Big League club for a dozen plate appearances. During this season, as with 2019, Andy was not using uHIT Custom, or as far as we can tell, any part of uHIT.
Then 2021 came. Things plateaued for Andy and he was released at the end of the season.
In 2022, he was picked up by the Washington Nationals organization and started the season at AAA-Ball. Mid-season he was moved down to AA-Ball. After the end of the 2022 season, Andy elected free agency and he is currently not with a Major League organization.
Where Can Andy Go From Here?
As Andy’s journey thus far shows, professional hitting can have a lot of ups and downs. When he was traded to the Diamondbacks, he was an infielder being discussed in the same breath as multi-year All-Star Paul Goldschmidt.
In fact, 4 years after the trade, Cardinals journalists crowed the organization’s great trade for Goldschmidt: “We’ll quickly notd that Andrew Young, another player involved in the trade, has played in 70 games for the D’backs the last two seasons, batting .205/.319/.462 with seven home runs. A breakout is always possible, but a player with those stats who turns 28 in May isn’t someone anyone should count on for such an improvement.” That is not a typo: The writer is so unimpressed with how Andy’s career has developed that he couldn’t even copy-edit “quickly notd [sic: “note”] that Andrew Young …”! The full article can be read here.
As tough as things may look for Andy though, the option to his future success may lay in this biting indictment of his hitting problems. We know one important difference between when he was moving up and when he stalled: and that was uHIT Custom. So we hope to have the chance to help Andy prove this journalist wrong, and possibly give the Cardinals (and Nationals) a mega sense of FOMO.
Player C (Irving Lopez)
Finally, we will review the before / after effects of uHIT first. This info is a summary of what’s included in our original case study on these players here. All on-field data for Irving is taken from here. We then look at what Irving has done since then.
2017 Season – Before using uHIT in Rookie Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OBP,/SLG): .287/.378/.433; OPS: .811
2018 Season – While using uHIT in High-A-Ball (two levels up from Rookie Ball): Triple-Slash Line (BA/OPB/SLG): .298/.372/404; OPS: .776
Irving saw a Triple-Slash Line and an OPS decrease, but he was promoted up two levels while using an early version of uHIT Custom’s Pitch Recognition Training.
What Has Irving Done Since 2018?
Irving stopped using uHIT Custom when his organization paused their use of it after the 2018 season. In contrast to Evan, Irving did not opt into our Partnership Program for Professional Hitters (see above in Evan’s journey for details to participate).
Still, Irving built off the 2018 gains, being propelled the next year to move up from AA-Ball to-AAA-Ball, where the pitching is harder to hit:
2019 Season – After using uHIT in-AAA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OPB/SLG): .300/.386/.467; OPS: .852
Irving was moving up well within the organization when COVID hit. But in 2021 and 2022, he was bounced between AA-Ball and AAA-Ball. His latest Triple Slash Line and OPS at AAA-Ball is a far cry from where he left off in 2019:
2022 Season – After using uHIT in-AAA-Ball: Triple-Slash Line (BA/OPB/SLG): .263/.359/.363; OPS: .721
Irving is still with the Cardinals organization as of the writing of this article.
Where Can Irving Go From Here?
As Irving’s journey shows, the COVID break was a serious challenge for up-and-coming pro hitters. As we saw with many players, we saw a fall-off in output before and after the COVID season.
As with Andy, we see an opportunity for Irving to rekindle his progress inn uHIT Custom to help his recognition of the zone. While we don’t know what would have happened had he kept using uHIT Custom, we can see from his K/BB rate that his recognition of the zone has changed dramatically from where he was when he ended uHIT Custom to where he is now, going from a K/BB of around 1 to upto 4 (in the 2021 season).
Since Irving is still with the Cardinals, we don’t anticipate some FOMO for them when he reengages with uHIT and continues the trajectory he was on in 2019. Rather, their President might thank us again, like he did our CEO when he ran into him at the 2018 Winter Meetings and discussed the breakout season of Andy Young.
Besides the individual details of each player’s journey, there are higher level observations we can make from these outcomes 5 years later. Needless to say, uHIT Custom had good effects when being used, and things plateaued or went downhill when uHIT Custom was not in regular use.
Another observation here is something many team coaches are familiar with: If players are not required to do uHIT (Custom or Plus) then they will not make it part of their regular training schedule. In 2018, the Cardinals made uHIT mandatory. In 2019, Evan Mendoza voluntarily made uHIT Plus mandatory for himself, but after that season he didn’t; and for no season after 2018 did Irving or Andy.
We are working hard to figure out how to make uHIT Custom a regular habit for training hitters. But for now, coaches and trainers who keep their hitters accountable has been the most proven strategy for integrating uHIT Custom into a hitter’s successful training strategy. Many examples of this strategy can be found with uHIT’s college teams too (see here and here).
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