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« The dulling of Mariano's cutter | Main | Ubaldo at Home »
Friday
Jul152011

The Triplers: Drew, Victorino, and Granderson

Stephen Drew of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies and Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees are three of the top triples hitters of the last 3.5 seasons.  They are young, fast, and bat mostly left-handed.  Is there another secret to their ability to hit triples?

First, look at where left-handed batter usually make contact with balls that result in triples:

MLB triples by left-handed batters, pitch frequency, 2008-2011.

Triples take up a good chunk of the strike zone, but the center of the high density area, is a bit down and away.  Our three outstanding triplers refine this further:

Stephen Drew triples, pitch frequency, 2008-2011.Shane Victorino triples as a LHB, pitch frequency, 2008-2011.Curtis Granderson triples, pitch frequency, 2008-2011.With these three hitters, the down and away preference for triples is very clear.  With all three, the triples are split between balls hit down the rightfield line and those hit to deep center, a bit to the rightfield side.  The pitch down and away is a tough one to drive for a homer, but it's a great one to drive over the head of the centerfielder.  Combine that with the speed of the batters and batting from the left side shortening the distance to third, and you can see why they own the triple advantage.

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