In his rookie campaign, Brenton Doyle has lit up the highlight reels, flashing ridiculous range to make diving plays and gun down runners with 105.7 mph throws (the fastest in the Statcast era). No wonder he’s sitting atop the MLB Fielding Run Value leaderboard.
The problem has been Doyle’s offense. With a slashline of .192/.242/.324, the question is whether or not his fielding is worth the lack of production at the plate. Earlier this month, Purple Row’s Kenneth Weber even wrote about “the big if” and whether or not Doyle could take the next step and a Major League hitter. For a team badly in need of offense, this is a very important question.
I believe Doyle will not only be at least a decent hitter, but I also think he’s already made some changes to prove it. In early September, Doyle made the bold decision to make adjustments to his plate approach. He’s been working to keep his hands up higher and having more of a closed stance to stay inside the baseball. This approach had its coming out party on Sept. 5 when Doyle went 2-for-4 with a triple and no strikeouts against the Diamondbacks.
Including that game, Doyle has played 12 games with 46 plate appearances with the new stance and during that time, he’s bumped up his slashline significantly: .250/.283/.432. Even if it’s a small sample size, a .058 increase in batting average is impressive.
Brenton Doyle’s In-Season Improvements
|R per Game
|R per Game
|April 24-Sept. 4
He’s almost posted an average of one hit per game since Sept. 5, which may not be the best measurement, especially since Doyle is often pitch hit for late in games, but it’s a good base to show how much he’s improved in the last 16 days. Instead of striking out 35% of the time like he’s averaged this season, Doyle is down to 16% in the last 12 games. He’s hit two triples, one homer, and one double in the stretch, a significant surge in power considering he’s totaled nine homers, 13 doubles, and four triples all season. He’s even posted three multi-hit games, which equals the same amount of multi-hit games he had in 75 games from June 1 to Sept. 4.
On Sept. 5, Doyle singled in his first at-bat of the night and then hit a leadoff triple in his second at-bat, which resulted in him scoring the eventual winning run on a sac fly by Charlie Blackmon. He grounded out in his final two at-bats of the game. After the game, he spoke with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain’s Ryan Spilborghs about the changes he made at the plate.
“I have been doing some mechanical tweaks here lately and I am glad they showed out tonight,” Doyle said.
It’s often said that hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in the world of sports. It’s hard to argue when you consider the arsenals and speed pitchers are capable of. Another thing that makes an already hard thing harder is making changes in the middle of a season. Changing muscle memory and adjusting an approach takes amazing skill to pull off. It also takes a good amount of maturity and bravery to even attempt.
Spilly acknowledged this in his post-game interview with Doyle, who did as well.
“It’s huge, especially in season. It’s really hard in season. It’s really something that I wanted to wait for until the offseason, but things haven’t been going my way so it kinda forced me to start things early,” Doyle said. “Today was a good step forward.”
Hopefully, Doyle can keep up his recent success at the plate for the final 10 games of the season. Then he’ll have a whole offseason to continue adjusting for what could be a much improved sophomore campaign.
★ ★ ★
It is miraculous. There is no other word for it. A little over four months ago, Ryan Feltner exited a game with a skull fracture. On Sept. 19, he returned to the mound and threw the fastest pitches of his MLB career at 98.5 and 98.6 mph. Purple Row’s own Samantha Bradfield was able to talk to Feltner about his recovery and return in this great feature. It’s great to see Feltner, who interestingly turned to painting when he couldn’t pitch, back on the field and as a bright spot in the Rockies pitching future.
This article trots out a familiar narrative of the Rockies as the permanent expansion team that never changes and will never recover from losing Nolan Arenado. The Monforts don’t care, it’s always September in Colorado, meaning a forgettable roster that’s not worth learning, and most of the Rockies best players in team history were drafted over a decade ago. Maybe Patrick Dubuque is right. There is a lot of truth to his points. But between the references to 500-year-old philosophy and seeming to not know Austin Gomber is on the IL or that Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela aren’t “rotation stalwarts” at this point since they missed most of this season and will miss at least a bunch of 2024, it also misses the promise of the 2023 rookies. Maybe without pitching changes, he’s right: “And so the 100-loss Rockies of 2023 are, for the most part, your 90-loss Rockies of 2024.” Or maybe the Rockies are changing slowly in a way that only Rockies fans can notice and find hope in.
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
The Isotopes surrendered seven runs in the seventh inning — on one homer, one double, three singles, four walks, one HBP, and one passed ball — and could recover on Thursday. Albuquerque held a 2-1 lead after three innings thanks to doubles by Wynton Bernard and Daniel Cope and with help from a Coco Montes walk and a Dodgers wild pitch. Montes and Aaron Schunk started a rally in the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back singles and Montes scored with Cope doubled again. Drew Romo hit a sac grounder to plate Schunk and Kyle Datres added a sac fly to score Cope. Unfortunately for the Isotopes, the rally stopped there. Bernard and Cope each finished the game with three hits. Karl Kauffmann had a solid start, giving up one run on four hits and four walks with one strikeout in six innings. The Isotopes have three more games this season with the finale slated for Sunday.
★ ★ ★
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