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« Bumgarner Boosts His K Rate | Main | Clayton Kershaw's Platoon-Proof Slider »

Helton and the Fastball

Todd Helton of the Colorado Rockies increased his batting average from a career low .256 in 2010 to a career average .324 in 2011.  The difference for Todd comes from his ability to handle the fastball.


Todd Helton Vs. the Fastball20102011
Batting Average 0.263 0.361
Strikeout % 19.3 10.1
Pitch Pct. 52.8 50
Swing Pct. 41.9 43.1
Miss Pct. 18 11.8
Chase Pct. 18.6 17


The difference comes from his ability to make contact.  He's swinging at these pitches at about the same rate, and chasing them out of the strike zone only slightly less.  He's cut way down on his swing and misses, and that led to a much lower strike out rate.  In general, more balls in play means more hits, and that's giving his batting average a boost.  You can see that in heat maps of his contact rate on fastballs:

Todd Helton, contact rate on fastballs, 2010.Todd Helton, contact rate on fastballs, 2011.Todd could not catch up with much off the inside part of the plate in 2010.  Now, he can cover the full lower half of the plate, and he's back being a productive hitter.

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