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« James Shields, Strikeout Artist | Main | Felipe Paulino's Puzzling Fastball »

Throwing the Ball By Hamilton

Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers suffered an offensive downturn in 2011 compared to 2010.  His .359/.411/.633 slash line from 2010 dropped to .298/.345/.520 in 2011.  The change in the way pitchers approach him offers an idea of why.  The average pitch Josh saw in 2010 wasn't very fast:

Josh Hamilton, pitch velocity, 2010.The pitches above averaged 85.6 MPH.  In 2011, Josh sees a lot more yellow:

Josh Hamilton, pitch velocity, 2011.The average velocity isn't that much greater, 86.6 MPH.  Pitchers aren't afraid to throw the high fastball to Josh, and they are getting him to chase those.  In 2010, he did go out of the strike zone up a bit:

Josh Hamilton, swing rate, 2010.In 2011, he can't lay off the high pitch:

Josh Hamilton, swing rate, 2011.In 2010, Josh hit .338/.455/.688 on high pitches, but he was disciplined high.  In 2011, with the selectivity gone, he's at .253/.387/.480. 

It strikes me that Josh lost a little bat speed.  That allows pitchers to throw him high fastballs, which give him even less time to swing.  This may not be a slump, but opponents exploiting a new weakness.

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