Could be. And ... as you've said ... "sustain" does become the operative word! And, of course, it is pretty obvious that none of these guys can "sustain" a decent batting average for very long ... and with the possible exception of Price ... even the starting pitchers seem to be having a difficult time sustaining a high level of performance throughout all of their starts.
For my part, though, I do believe that even old dogs can be taught new tricks ... so ... I do think even pedestrian hitters can be made better through effective ongoing analysis, instruction and coaching ... and my question is whether MLB has enough effective performance analysts, instructors and coaches to go around. (???)
There's little doubt that the Rays position players are pretty pedestrian (or maybe worse than pedestrian) in their performances at the plate ... and I do believe some of that ... maybe a big part ... is the result of the player selection and development people concentrating primarily on recruiting defensive ability and speed ... with offensive ability and potential taking a back seat ... w-a-y back. (???)
And, of course, there's no doubt that if the starting pitching is inconsistent ... and if the defense is having ups-and-downs ... then the team better have a productive offense if it hopes to win a majority of its games.
I think effective coaching can help ... BUT ... as you say ... you can't expect much from guys who may have minimal ability to begin with ... even if you have the best coaches in the world.
True ... but that gets into the team's (manager's) philosophy of hitting ... and ... in this case ... it seems Maddon's guiding (and REQUIRED) principle is for EVERY hitter to strive for "'the extended at-bat" ... and ... frankly ... I think that hurts some guys (and, therefore, the team) when they're naturally more aggressive ... and when, say, they're looking for a first-pitch fast-ball ... they get it ... but they feel they can't swing because that's not what the manager wants from them. (???)
You know ... it seems Maddon always gives them the green light to do what they want on the base paths ... but he NEVER seems to give them the green light when they go up to the plate. (?) Of course ... there are some lousy first-ball swingers like Melvin ... and there are some far-too-aggressive first-ball long-ball swingers like Johnson was (but who has changed that approach since he became a regular and, in the process, improved his average by 60+ points!).
Maybe a more aggressive team hitting philosophy might benefit a couple of these guys ... or ... maybe Maddon should be a little more geared to more effectively using the individual differences among his hitters rather than requiring all of them to follow the same mantra. (???)
I dunno'. BUT ... I do tend to believe that Maddon's tendency to let things go so they can, in effect, "heal themselves" ... is NOT the way to go with this team at this time.
I can't argue with what you've said, other than to add that at least as far as most of the Rays "hitters" (term used loosely for sake of conversation) go, their approach appears very mechanical, almost rote. Few look comfortable in the batter's box, and all are very susceptible to being overpowered, even Longoria. Hence, EVERYBODY strikes out, LOTS, even "light" hitters like Johnson, Jennings, and Lobaton.
Your last paragraph says it all...
I agree with your comment about the hitters seeming to be overly tense and tight at bat ... and ... in addition to the fact that none of them are elite, natural hitters ... I think this whole "extended-at-bat" thing may be putting more ... and unnatural ... pressure on them while they're up there. (???) It's like they're all up there ... dancing on their tippytippytoes ... competing to see who can get the highest number of pitches per at bat ... rather than seeing who can get the most hits throughout the game. (???)
As you say ... none of them look real natural or real comfortable up there. And, to me, it seems like you can almost see their "uptightness" in their stances and movements. (???)
Last season, the Jays made some waves under the philosophy of taking aggressive first-pitch swings ... and ... while THAT can be a problem for some guys ... as it was for Johnson and seems to be for Melvin ... Maddon ought to give it a try. (And ... I would bat Johnson, Keppinger and Zobrist 1-2-3.)
Probably w-a-y more than just "underlying"!
Maybe "underlying" on this team at this point in time ... but ... for example ... DEFINITELY NOT "underlying" on the Red Sox last season!!!)
GREAT hitters always see the ball hit the bat. Ryan Braun - a right handed hitter - hit two jacks today. Both the right centerfield. Watch those AB's ... his head follows the ball all the way to the bat. It's a short compact swing with good balance and the hands are level with the swing. He didn't swing hard, he just hit the ball solid and it did what it was going to do.
That's how you do it .... nothing complicated.
It's like golf.
If you want to kill the ball, it's not going to go anywhere. That includes whiffs. But if you make a smooth, consistent, effortless swing, chances are you'll hit it and it will go hard and far. Add to that, follow the ball with your eyes. It's like fielding a ball. You watch it go in the glove, it will go in the glove. You are watching Jezebel, it will not.
All in see in the Rays' hitters is strong, wild swings. Except for two notable exceptions. Keppinger and Zobrist. It's like everybody else wants to crush the ball to hit a homer. And hope that the ball follows the bat swing.
Really, does anyone feel excited about going to a Rays game these days? It's starting to look like the Devil Rays. Sure, you might win a game or two but mostly you'll come out disappointed. You go to a game because you want to see your team win. Wanna get drunk? Go to a bar. Wanna see a losing proposition? Watch a Bucs game. Wanna come out of a game feeling frustrated? Might as well go to Mass. But at least at Mass you are left with a bit of hope.