Search Archives
Follow Us

Featured Sponsors

Mailing List
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Twitter Feeds

This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks


Mo troubles for Rivera

After giving up a home run to Bobby Abreu of the Angels, the greatest reliever of all time, the Yankees' Mariano Rivera, said to Kevin Kernan of the NY Post

“The pitch didn’t get there enough. It was middle in, not in enough. He put good wood on the ball. You have to make sure you get it there. It didn’t get there.”

"Not getting there" is also what happened in his previous appearance Sunday night when Mo gave up a double that went high off the Green Monster to Boston's Marco Scutaro.

But what does "not getting there" really mean? Mariano is referring to his cutter that for so many years broke so sharply that he sawed off bats like they were dry kingling. Kernan write that when Yankee manager Joe Girardi was asked how often the cutter does not cut, he answered,

“Very, very seldom. You don’t see it very often, and he happened to throw one tonight.”

Girardi is an honorable man, but the liklihood is that he is protecting his superstar by not adding, "But it's happening more frequently these days."

Let me show you what I mean.

Mariano's cutter in 2009

Batters hit .170 against Mo in 2009Look at the consistency in the pitches. The more he hit a spot, the more red appears. Mariano was cruel against lefties. He held them to a .174 avg. because they coudn't get around on the pitch. Righties couldn't reach the ball, they hit .165 against him.

Mariano's cutter in 2010

Batters hit .185 against Mo's cutter in 2010Look at the green and yellow start to grow. Those were the first signs of the cutter not cutting as much. It's by no means significant here but serves more as an indicator. As that ball drifted toward the middle, it was lefties that saw the first benefits. They hit hit .218 against him last year. Mo still owned righties however holding them to a .139 avg.

Mariano's cutter in the first half of 2011

Batters hit .214 against the cutter leading up to the breakLook how much of the plate Mariano took in the first half with the cutter. The red area now covers a good portion of the middle of the plate. Lefties were up to .224 against him as they put more balls into play with the good part of the bat. Righties were up to .204. Now I know .204 is nothing, but when you compare it to .139, it's something.

Mariano's cutter since the 2011 All-Star break

Batters are hitting the cutter at a .303 rate since the breakOverall, batters are hitting .263 in games in the second half of this season. His ERA is 3.48. As for the cutter, you can see it's "not getting there." Lefties are hitting .350 against it, righties .231. But there's more as Mark Simon of points out in his comprehensive look at Mariano,

"Rivera is not putting hitters away with two strikes as well as he usually does.....He's given up 16 hits in favorable two-strike counts (0-2, 1-2, 2-2) this season, nearly twice as many as he did in 2010 (9)." 

Does this mean that Rivera is done? By no means.

His ERA this season is 2.23 and his career ERA is 2.23. His WHIP is still a sparkling 0.992.

But it does mean is that like the continental drift, Mariano's cutter is clearly moving, slowly but surely into the territory of mere mortals. And that is not the way we are accustomed to describing Mariano Rivera.


Cano vs. Pedroia

Both Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano are having very good seasons.  Even though Pedroia struggled in the first two months of the season, batting just .240 with a .332 SLG, he's turned it around and is now batting .310 with a .477 SLG.  Even when he was struggling, the Red Sox second baseman was walking quite a bit, keeping his OBP around .350.  Once the power kicked in, his overall numbers took off.

Meanwhile, the Home Run Derby champion has been fairly consistent all year for the New York Yankees.  He ranks in the 90th percentile in both doubles and triples this season, however he's struggled to get on base overall with a .343 OBP, the lowest it's been since 2008.

Here's a look at how the two match up:

2011 Season
Robinson Cano.295.343.503.362125
Dustin Pedroia.310.403.477.386139
(Click to enlarge)

Pedroia has surpassed Cano in wOBA in the past couple months as his power numbers have risen. Through the first three months of the season, Cano held a 5 point edge in wOBA over Pedroia. This was all despite his lackluster walk rate of 4.5%, which ranked him in the bottom 8% of the league. However, through June 30th, Cano's .501 SLG% was 102 points higher than Pedroia's. Since that time, Pedroia has slugged a whopping .633, and his .388 batting average in that span ranks first in the majors.

2011 vs. LHP
Robinson Cano.314.358.482.36211.3%4.6%2.9%
Dustin Pedroia.417.523.642.5008.7%18.8%4.2%

2011 vs. RHP
Robinson Cano.286.336.513.36214.8%5.5%4.6%
Dustin Pedroia.271.355.416.34111.3%11.8%3.0%

As expected, Pedroia holds the edge against left-handed pitching this season. His .523 OBP ranks first in the majors and his .417 average ranks third. However, it's important to note that Pedroia currently holds a ridiculously high .437 BAbip(Batting Average on Balls In Play) against lefties. Only two other players in the American League with more than 100 PA against lefties have a BAbip over .400: Michael Young of the Texas Rangers with a .408 BAbip in 128 PA versus lefties, and Michael Bourjos of the L.A. Angels with a .418 BAbip in 118 PA. Pedroia's BAbip vs. LHP was .288 in 2009 and .266 in his injury shortened 2010 season; his career BAbip versus southpaws is .323. A correction in the next couple months could start to rein in those numbers.

Pedroia has also made good use of the short wall in left field at Fenway, particularly against lefties. In 78 plate appearances, his line is .455/.526/.742 with a .482 BAbip. In his previous three seasons combined at home versus lefties, Pedroia has .335 BAbip. While Fenway does tend to inflate BAbip, it's more than likely that Pedroia has benefited from a little luck as well.

Robinson Cano has fared as expected against righties; his 4.6% home run rate is about a 44% increase over his previous three year average. And his 3 triples off lefties this season matches his combined total from 2009-10. His walk rate, however, is down from 8.8% in 2010 to 5.5%. Meanwhile, his 14.8% strike out rate is a 47% increase from 2010 when he struck out in 10.1% of his PA versus RHP. Contributing to this problem has been Cano's propensity to swing at more pitches out of the zone. His current 37.4% chase percentage versus RHP ranks in the bottom 8% of the league.

Struggles and surges aside, the Yankees and Red Sox will look to their second baseman to help lock down a playoff spot down the stretch. And with both teams vying for top honors in the AL East, the production they get from their respective second baseman could be the difference maker.


Grounding Hamels

Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies reduced his hits and home runs allowed this season to put him in Cy Young contention.  He accomplished this by inducing more ground balls with his fastball.  From 2008-2010, the percent of ground balls and fly balls put in play against his fastball were very similar, 30.5% fly balls, 35.2% ground balls.  On fly balls, batters did very well, with a .297 batting average and a .814 slugging percentage.  On ground balls, they did poorly with averages of .236/.263.

Cole Hamels, fastball frequency (left) and movement (right), 2008-2010.

Note that in this time period, Cole's fastball stayed up.  Compare that to 2011:

Cole Hamels, fastball frequency (left) and movement (right), 2011.Not only is his fastball lower in the strike zone, his movement is a bit farther toward right-handed batters.  He's now getting 46% of his balls in play as ground balls, only 24.9% as fly balls.  The fly balls still give batters good results, .297/.734.  Batters are hitting .262/.295 on ground balls, but it's worth it to keep the ball in the park.  Hamels is trading extra-base hits for singles, a trade that is paying huge dividends.