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« L.A. Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw: Early Season Pitch Breakdown | Main | Willie Bloomquist's Wrigley Field Dinger »
Wednesday
Apr062011

Nelson Cruz Looks Lower

Nelson Cruz tied a major league record by hitting homers in each of the first four Texas Rangers game of the season.  The Texas outfielder showed impressive power during the three previous seasons, slugging .565 during the period.  Nelson concentrated his power in the upper half of the strike zone:

Nelson Cruz slugging zones, 2008-2010.Not surprisingly, pitchers tried to work him down and away:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2008-2010.Pitcher probably don't get the ball down as much as they'd like against Nelson, but you can see the intent in the heat map.

In 2011, they tried the same thing:

Nelson Cruz, pitch frequency, 2011.So far, they are doing a very good job of working Nelson down.  What they didn't count on was Cruz making an adjustment:

Nelson Cruz slugging zones, 2011.Instead of waiting to crush a high pitch, Nelson went down and got the low pitches.  The pitchers were following their scouting report and got burned.  It may be that Nelson just got lucky.  It's early in the season and anything can happen in a few at bats.  It would make sense, however, for Cruz to learn to hit where the pitchers are working, so it may be time for the scouting report to change.

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