David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays has improved both his walk and strikeout rates in 2011 posting the best K/9 IP and BB/9 IP marks of his career. The result however, is an ERA one run higher than last season. While David keeps men off base very well, with men on base, batters hit him better making the most of their limited opportunities.
The spot to hit Price the best is near the catcher's glove hand:
David, however, avoids that area of the plate:
Note that Price works the outside part of the strike zone near the catcher's hand. He experience great success getting both swinging and called strikes there:
So working inside to left-handers, outside to right-handers, works well for Price, while putting the ball on the inside part of the plate (from a right-handed batter's perspective) works poorly. So with no one on:
This pattern produces a .213/.249/.368 slash line by his opposing batters. With men on base, however, Price abandons this winning pattern:
He often puts the ball right where batter like to hit it against him. The above pattern results in a .276/.338/.414 slash line. Those hits come at a bad time, and help drive runners home.
I wonder if this pattern is part of a desire to drive down his walks. Walks with men on base are frustrating for a pitcher. By throwing the ball over the plate more with men on base, he avoids the walks, but he's also providing good pitches to hit. It's not clear the trade-off is working this season.