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Top Two Strike Hitters by wOBA

Min. 100 Two Strike Plate Appearances (Click image to enlarge)

There is no shortage of good hitters in the top 10 of this list.  Some notables that didn't make the cut: Chris Iannetta of the Colorado Rockies (.322) has the the highest walk rate (21.5%) of all major leaguers with two strikes....Yankees' Curtis Granderson (.316) has 5.1% HR rate, 4th behind Cabrera, Tulowitzki, and Berkman....Victor Martinez (.328) of the Detroit Tigers has a .310 batting average in two strike counts, best in the majors.


Sabathia's Boston Problem

CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees pitched very well this season, except against the Boston Red Sox.  CC's problems occur on three of his four pitches; the fastball, the sinker, and the change up.  His problems are two-fold, in that his pitches miss the strike zone more, and the Boston hitters track his offerings better.

Overall, Sabathia does an excellent job of hitting the strike zone with those three pitches:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.He misses to the catcher's right hand, and close enough that batters will often go after those pitches.  Against the Red Sox, he misses wider:

CC Sabathia, pitch frequency vs. Boston, fastballs, sinkers, change ups, 2011.CC also avoids the middle of the plate more, especially up.  The following table shows how these wide misses hurt Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011All TeamsRed Sox
In Strike Zone %
51.2 44.7
Strike % 67.5 61.8
Called Strikes %
35.2 29.7
Swing % 49.9 45.7
Miss % (of swings) 18.8 15.0
Chase % 31.4 27.0


The first three rows represent CC's break down.  He throws fewer pitches in the zone, and that leads to fewer strikes, mostly because there are fewer pitches to take for strikes.  The next three rows show how the Red Sox react to this.  A team of selective hitters, they swing less, especially since fewer pitches are in the strike zone.  Swinging at better pitches, (lower chase %) they make more contact (fewer misses).  That leads to this statistical disparity for Sabathia:


Fastball, Sinker, Change Up 2011All TeamsRed Sox
Batting Average 0.262 0.357
On Base Percentage 0.323 0.373
Slugging Percentage 0.361 0.561
wOBA 0.303 0.417


Even a great pitcher can't afford to make too many mistakes against the Red Sox.


Fielder Launching Rockets

Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers hit his fifth home run of the season against the Houston Astros Sunday afternoon.  He came into the game 19 for 43 against the Astros with ten extra base hits.  What are the Astros doing wrong against the first baseman?

Most teams work Fielder away.

Prince Fielder, pitch frequency, 2011.They also tend to work him up and in, which is good for limiting his power:

Prince Fielder, in-play slugging, 2011.The Astros follow a similar pattern:

Prince Fielder, pitch frequency against the Astros, 2011.Again, they work him up and in, which should be good, and away, which should be good.  They do put  too many pitches down in the middle of the strike zone. 

Prince Fielder, slugging vs. the Astros, 2011.It looks like the Astros pitchers are leaving too many pitches up and in the middle of the plate.  When pitchers go after Prince up and in, they really need as much in as up.

The other problem comes from the slider.  Overall in 2011, Prince's worst production comes against the slider, with a .267/.360/.480 slash line.  (You get an idea of how well Fielder hits when that is his worst slash line against a pitch.)  Against Astros sliders, however, Fielder is 4 for 5 and the one non-hit resulted in an error.  Most teams work sliders away from Prince, but Houston used it up and in.  That was a mistake, as Prince pounded the pitch.