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« TruMedia MLB Analytics Heat Maps on NESN | Main | Roy Halladay's Change Up »

Jose Bautista Adjusting to the Changeup

Jose Bautista(TOR) hasn't shown any signs of letting up from his powerful 2010 season.  He is currently tied for the HR lead with 7, and his on base percentage of .506 leads all major league players.  Pitchers are now treading carefully when Bautista comes to the plate.  His walk rate is up from 14.6% in 2010 to 22.9% this season, highest in the majors.

One pitch that gave Bautista trouble last season was the changeup.

Jose Bautista vs. 2010 Changeups (304 pitches)

The right-handed slugger has apparently made some adjustments and is hitting changeups much better early in the 2011 season. Three of his home runs have come off changeups with a total of 5 hits in 11 ABs decided on the pitch. He's seen 55 changeups so far this year and has made contact on only 47.4% of his swings (72.4% contact rate in 2010). So while he's not making as much contact, his swings are producing much better results so far.

This tells me that he's recognizing the pitch better, and as a result is swinging harder. While he may miss the pitch completely more often, the changeups he does connect on will go a long way. Even the one triple he hit off a change (a broken bat looping liner on April 22nd) shows Bautista's patience. He recognized the change out of Jeremy Hellickson's(TB) hand, which fell away from him off the outside corner of the plate. Bautista waited on it and got the end of his bat on the ball, dunking it in front of a diving Ben Zobrist in right field.

Given that changeups were the one pitch he had trouble with last year, if he continues hitting them hard, he could put up as good, if not better overall power numbers this season.

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