A Walk Is As Good As A Hit: The Robbie Grossman Story

“Argue your limitations, and they will be yours.” — Illusions, Richard Bach

How I wish I had learned that phrase back when I was playing Little League. Defensively, I was rock solid. I could turn the double play from the second base side with ease or I could sit behind the plate for nine innings and call a game with the best of them. Put me in the batter’s box though, and my ineptitude at the plate was depressingly laughable. But rather than work my tail off to become a better hitter, I simply accepted the fact that I was never going to work my way up to the clean-up spot and when the coach said that a walk was as good as a hit, I took it as gospel. The bat barely left my shoulder and I led my team in walks. Of course I took a few cuts from time to time and even found my way on-base via an actual hit, but overall, taking a pitch was my specialty. I was the original Robbie Grossman.

A few weeks ago, while scouring the waiver wire in search of yet another replacement outfielder, I noticed the Astros had just brought Grossman back from Triple-A and manager Bo Porter announced that the 23-year old switch-hitter would be a regular in his starting lineup. With few promising alternatives and a need for a boost in stolen bases, I decided to investigate further. The double-digit walk rate at every level was encouraging and though his batting average hovered around the Mendoza line during his big league stint in late April and all of May, he was still posting a relatively favorable on-base percentage. A quick scroll down to his plate discipline numbers opened my eyes even wider as it was evident that those same words of my, and thousands of other, Little League coaches were echoing in his head as well —  Wait for your pitch. A walk is as good as a hit.

While the average major league player swings at 46.3-percent of the pitches he sees, Grossman has a swing rate of just 37.7-percent. That’s actually a pretty substantial difference. In fact, look at how the rest of his swing rates stand out against league averages:

O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing%
Grossman 20.20% 58.40% 37.70%
League Avg. 30.70% 65.40% 46.30%

Grossman knew that it would be difficult to achieve real success at the plate while posting a 1.40 GB/FB with a strikeout rate close to 25-percent (23.7-percent to be exact). He may be sound defensively, but he still needed to find a way to produce offensively to earn his keep and by not swinging, he seems to have achieved just that. His reluctance to fish outside the zone or to even take the bat off his shoulder in most cases, has forced pitchers to abandon the corner-nibbling and to simply just throw him strikes. That has pushed him into numerous hitter-friendly counts and, as a result, given him much better pitches to hit.

Since his return to the lineup, Grossman has now hit safely in 10-straight games and has produced three home runs, nine RBI and four stolen bases. His swing rates have increased slightly while on this little run, but still remain far below league average. That’s certainly encouraging because it means that even if he were to run into a string of bad luck, he is unlikely to start pressing at the plate or try to do too much and compound the problem. Will he continue to hit this well over the remaining two months of the season? Maybe. Probably not, though. But should he continue to remain frugal with the hacks, he should continue to see ample opportunities to swing away and actually do some damage. I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend him in your more shallow leagues, but in leagues of 14 or more teams that require you to start six outfielders, he could prove to be rather helpful.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


9 Responses to “A Walk Is As Good As A Hit: The Robbie Grossman Story”

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  1. Big Mike says:

    I just picked him up in a 12-team mixed that counts avg, obp and slg separately, dropping the slumping Anthony Rendon. A speedster who plays every day and can take a walk should always be rosterable in any obp league.

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  2. Luke says:

    Hey any chance you guys can forward this article to Ruben Amaro Jr? Apparently he must not have paid attention in little league. He spent the last two offseasons talking about how the Phillies need to see more pitches and have better approaches at the plate. So what does he do this past offseason? Acquire Ben Revere, Michael Young, and Delmon Young all of whom have below average to poor career walk rates. Nice work.

    But this is also the same guy who gave away Jared Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, and Josh Zeid…oh and why not just throw Domingo Santana in there as PTBNL… for Hunter Pence in 2011. When his team was on pace to win 103 games at the time. So what should I really expect?

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  3. chri521 says:

    His 3 homers have been averaging over 390 ft and all come batting as a lefty. Anything in his minor league profile showing he packs more punch as a lefty but a better approach for average as a righty?

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  4. Bwood says:

    BUZZGUY!
    I’m in a VERY deep dynasty league. Could you please rank these OF (ROS & long term keeper potential): Jr. Lake, Juan Lagares, Robbie Grossman, Kole Calhoun, Jake Marisnick, Cole Gillespie, Caleb Gindl.
    Thanks and keep up the great work!

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Hey BWood —

      Lots of guys pretty close together here, but if I had to pick an order for them right now (ROS and beyond), I would say Lake, Grossman, Lagares, Calhoun, Marisnick, Gindl and then Gillespie.

      Thanks for the questions/feedback/encouragement and good luck to you the rest of the way.

      Howard

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  5. birdballs says:

    this week, Robbie Grossman or Leonys Martin? I also have the option of Carl Crawford & based on his play recently he’s a valid option for me trying to find someone to give me some lightening in a bottle for a couple weeks..I can’t decide I picked up Crawford only to drop 10min later after more research and the only one of those I listed left to pickup/drop is Leonys Martin lol i love not making good sentences on the internet..nobody will see this in time lol so here ya go hope whoever you are that you’re having a great day, sincerely I’m not a fake person hehe but i am frustrated or indecisive about the above…

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Hey Birdballs —

      Hopefully this gets to you in time fort decisions this week. While Crawford is the big name and is heating up right now, I still think Martin is the way to go due to his speed potential and possible runs scored. He’s hitting well and has the green light on the bases and should be a staple in the lineup moving forward.

      Good luck!

      Howard

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  6. David Floren says:

    Howard,
    I’m in a playoff push in a keeper league where a player’s playoff performance relies 40% on his September performance and 60% on his performance for the first 5 months. I’m coming up on the last pick of my very last in-season draft and can’t decide between a 6th OF for a 3OF lineup (Robbie Grossman) or a good prospect in Marcus Semien (SS, CWS). But if Grossman’s OBP for September is expected to sit at 3.30 or above, I might feel compelled to think short-term and snag Robbie. Do you think Bo Porter will give him 70+AB in Sept, and do you see Robbie keeping his OBP up for one more month? My OF is a bit injury prone (Adam Jones, Allejandro De Aza, Justin Maxwell, Michael Morse, and Chris Carter). Come to think of it, when rosters expand what will Bo Porter do to Chris Carter’s p/t? That might be a reason to snag Robbie.
    Regards, David

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