Julien set on busting second-base platoon

Revue de Web,

Do-Hyoung Park, Twins Beat newsletter, Minnesota Twins Web site, 7 avril 2024

Édouard Julien, Twins du Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Edouard Julien has been a man on a mission to show the Twins that he can, indeed, hit left-handed pitching if given the opportunity.

It is known that the Twins very aggressively platoon Julien, Matt Wallner and other left-handed bats, and they’re going to continue doing that unless their roster situation dictates otherwise. Not much will change there, and manager Rocco Baldelli has been firm on it.

That doesn’t stop Julien from trying to make his case, anyway.

“He mentions it to me all the time, which is fun,” Baldelli said. “I'm all for it. He can remind me as much as he wants, and I'll remind him of what I want to remind him of, too. It works fine. But he's pretty open about it. He wants to play every day.”

To that end, Julien has been working tirelessly to improve his outcomes, specifically against left-handed pitching. He said he spent days during Spring Training constantly hitting off the Twins’ Trajekt machine -- which mimics release points and pitch characteristics of real pitches -- with the southpaws from the American League Central plugged in.

Julien is also thrilled to have seen more consistent at-bats against lefties in spring games -- he went 3-for-10 with a walk -- because, really, he sees the continued exposure as the thing that will help him the most, even though that is the kind of situation he’ll see least often during the regular season.

“Every time a lefty would come up [last season] and I would have to bat, it was almost shocking for me,” Julien said. “I would go in the box and I would put so much pressure on myself to get a hit, because I wouldn't get those at-bats.”

Even within that context, those sorts of left-on-left at-bats are even less familiar to Julien, because he didn’t grow up with them. He was a switch-hitter through high school and only switched to hitting lefty full-time as a freshman at Auburn University in 2018.

That’s what gives him hope that seeing more lefties will make him more comfortable -- perhaps more so than others. Because unlike many others, Julien is trying to build this approach from scratch.

“You don't want to limit it and say he can't do it, right?” said assistant hitting coach Derek Shomon, who has worked with Julien for years as they came up the Minors together. “That's not fair, because it's also not true. But a lot of it does start with just increasing the volume. Increasing the volume and then coaching to what you see inside those reps and trying to assess what the mishits are and where the swing and miss is or how you're missing.”

One day, Julien hopes, a roster situation will play out that will give him the more consistent chance he’s waited for at the big league level against lefties. There were chunks of last season, for example, when right-handed platoon bat Donovan Solano would often start against right-handed pitchers due to injuries.

But these days, Julien is almost always subbed out for Kyle Farmer or Manuel Margot in those spots -- as was the case last season, when Julien hit .263/.381/.459 with a 130 OPS+ and 2.6 WAR in 109 games in an exemplary rookie season.

That’s a sensical decision right now, by the way.

In aggregate, Julien is one of the club’s best hitters, but against lefties, he’s a .208/.240/.229 hitter with a .469 OPS -- and that’s the framework to be used (not the overall picture) when deciding on those matchups, because hitting against lefties and righties simply can’t be grouped together.

In fact, it’s almost impossible to find any left-handed hitter -- even the really good ones -- who match up to the platoon production of Farmer, who has an .821 career OPS against lefties. That approximates the left-on-left production of Bryce Harper (.828 career OPS vs. southpaws) and Shohei Ohtani (.831).

It’s tough for now to find many situations in which it’s advantageous for the Twins to send a still-learning Julien up to the plate in those situations, when they have an experienced and proven Farmer to hit against lefties. But Julien is doing everything he can to make that a tougher decision for the Twins, and he is waiting for the time to come when he can show it, too.

“I do it for myself, but at the end of the day, I do it for the team, too,” Julien said. “I want to help the team win games, and I think that if I'm a better hitter against lefties, it's going to put the team in a better situation.”

Revue de Web publié par Jacques Lanciault.

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