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Thursday
Aug112011

Another Leadoff HR for Bloomquist

When I saw that Arizona Diamondback Willie Bloomquist hit a leadoff HR against the Astros yesterday, the first thing I thought was that it had to be a pitch up and in.  Back on April 4th, Bloomquist hit a leadoff HR against the Cubs at Wrigley, and I analyzed how the Diamondback outfielder does well on inside high pitches, particularly fastballs.

Well sure enough, Astros' starter Henry Sosa threw Bloomquist a high inside fastball that he promptly deposited into the left center field stands.  Here's his slugging heat map with his HR pitch sequence:

Willie Bloomquist vs. Henry Sosa (Bot. 1st, 8/10/2011)
Heat map data from 2011 season (click image to enlarge)

And here's a look at the location of pitches that Bloomquist has taken deep since the beginning of the 2009 season (11 total HRs):

(click image to enlarge)

It's a wonder opposing pitchers are still throwing him inside; it's really the only area of the zone that he can do significant damage.

Thursday
Aug112011

Matsui Godzilla Again

Hideki Matsui of the Oakland Athletics found his stroke after the all-star break.   After a 4 for 6 on Thursday, he's hitting .432 after a .209 first half.  His pitch selection improved, as you can see in his swing rate.

Early in the season, Matsui seemed to chase pitches up and in:

Hideki Matsui, swing rate, 1st half of 2011.Note how his swing zone is vertical, as if pitchers were working him up the ladder.  The up and in area of the strike zone indicates he was swinging at pitches that were jamming him.  He wasn't making great contact:

Hideki Matsui, contact rate, 1st half of 2011.When he swung at pitches in the middle of the zone, he often missed them.

His swing selection became more horizontal in the second half:

Hideki Matsui, swing rate, 2nd half of 2011.He's now picking a level, and staying in that zone, rather than following pitches up.  His contact rate improved:

Hideki Matsui, contact rate, 2nd half of 2011.He was missing on 18% of his swings before the All-Star break, only 10% after.  Matsui swings at better pitches, makes better contact, and his batting average is reaping the benefits.

Wednesday
Aug102011

Jeter's Needed Rest

Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees improved his hitting since coming off the disabled list on July 4th.  Before the injury, Derek could not hit the fastball, producing a .248/.323/.326 slash line on the pitch.  If you look at his in play average heat map and spray chart, it becomes very clear that Jeter could not pull the pitch:

Derek Jeter vs. the fastball, 2011 season through June 13th.As Jeter ages, his bat speed should slow, making pulling hard pitches more difficult.  After spending three weeks on the disabled list, however, Jeter is pulling the ball more:

Derek Jeter vs. the fastball, 2011 season, July 4 to August 9.Jeter's offense dropped in 2010, and he worked on his hitting quite a bit over the winter and all through spring training.  Could it be he worked too much and wore down?  Since returning, Derek's slash line against the fastball stands at .339/.409/.407.  He's also getting hits to leftfield again.  Maybe his contract won't be a burden after all.