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« Matt Harrison's Dead Fish | Main | Derek Jeter's Hit Types »

Did Carlos Gonzalez Lose Bat Speed?

In 2010, Carlos Gonzalez contended for the NL triple crown and the MVP award.  His .336 batting average led the NL.  He hit fastballs and off-speed pitches well:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on off-speed pitches, 2010.Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on fastballs, 2010.Notice that huge hole in the middle of the strike zone on fastballs.  Carlos handled down fine, he handled up and away fine, but throw a fastball down the middle and it gave him problems.  Pitchers have changed their approach to him early in 2011.  In 2010, they concentrated fastballs up and away:

Carlos Gonzalez, fastball location, 2010.In 2011, the concentration of pitches is more toward the middle of the plate and down:

Carlos Gonzalez, fastball location, 2011.Look at that big gob of red smack in the middle of the strike zone.  Major league hitters are supposed to pound that pitch, but Carlos is not doing well with it:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on fastballs, 2011.Compare that to how he smacks off-speed pitches:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on off-speed pitches, 2011.Gonzalez doesn't strike out much on the fastball compare to the change up and slider, but teams will take him putting fastballs in play for a low average all day long.

So is this a real weakness?  The good news for Rockies fans is that Carlos showed big swings against the fastball in 2010:

Carlos Gonzalez, in play average on fastballs, 2010 timeline.The physical adjustment from going from high altitude to low altitude parks may take a toll on Gonzalez during a season.  This poor start on fastballs may just mean he needs to make an adjustment.  If he flipped this graph in 2011, he would end up doing quite well.

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