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Baseball-All-Starlytics: Jered Weaver

The Angels' Jered Weaver is a true All-Star. There is no arguing whether this pitcher deserves to be on the team, in fact, the only argument about Weaver should be whether there is a better pitcher in baseball right now.

Weaver's numbers are daunting. After defeating the Mariners last night, Weaver is now 11-4 with a 1.86 ERA and a 0.912 WHIP. After leading the majors with 233 strikeouts last season, he has whiffed 120 batters this season. In 19 starts this season he has thrown 140.1 innings, averaging 71. innings per start. He has thrown over 100 pitches in each of his starts and averages 115 pitches per start.

Surprisingly, his season has been streaky. Weaver won his first six starts, then lost his next four. In his last nine starts, he's 5-0. Those are the starts I'd like to look at.

Jered Weaver - May 23 - July 8

Weaver has made nine starts during that time period. Batters are hitting .182 against him and slugging just .252.

In 9 games, he's allowed 10 doubles, two triples and one homerWeaver has struck out 21.1% or 35 of the lefties he's faced.

Look how Weaver works the outside of the plate against leftiesWeaver is almost as brilliant against rightiesWeaver has struck out 20 righties, 20.8% whiff rate. Righties are hitting .180 and slugging .213 over these nine games.

Weaver OWNS the inside

As impressive as he has been working the outside of the plate, Weaver works the inside brilliantly.

Against lefties, batters are hitting and slugging .053 when Weaver pitches inside:

Lefties have just one single in 19 at batsRighties have two singles and a double against Weaver's inside pitchesRighties are hitting .150 (3-for-20) and slugging .200.

Right down the middle?

But to truly appreciate how nasty Weaver has been you need to see that in nine games, Weaver has only thrown 78 pitches right down the middle of the plate, and of those 78, only 21 have been put in play.

Even when throwing down the middle, batters are only hitting .120Batters are 3-for-20 and on these pitches right down the middle, they have swung and missed on 14.3%.

Weaver has been brilliant this entire season and if he gets the start in the All-Star Game, it will be well deserved.


League Earns a Reputation

Brandon League of the Seattle Mariners earned an All-Star berth as he experience the best season of his short career.  League brought down both his walk rate and home run rate this season leading to a career best .268 wOBA.  Weighted OBA represents linear weights put on the scale of OBP, so league average is going to be around .330.  This season, when batters face Brandon, they are hitting below replacement level.

During the previous three seasons, League induced batters to swing at pitches off the edge of the plate on the catcher's glove had side.

Brandon League, swing rate, 2008-2010.Batters expanded their strike zones.  League used to get a fair amount of called strikes there, as batters defined a wider zone:

Brandon League, called strike rate, 2008-2010.This season, he's getting a much wider slice off the plate.

Brandon League, called strike rate, 2011.Where he used to get some yellow up to the dotted line, (the could go either way part of the strike zone), he's now getting some red past it.  That's nothing but good for Brandon.  If batters take the pitches, (which they should), the called strike puts them in a hole.  If they swing, it's not a good part of the strike zone in which to make solid contact.  As long as League continues to get these calls, he'll have the advantage over the hitters.


Wily Mo Pena Powerful, Impatient as Ever

After all these years, Wily Mo Pena remains equal parts brute strength and brutal plate discipline. The six-foot-three, 270+ pound specimen, once a prime prospect for his ability to hit home runs that make Robert Redford's shot in The Natural look like a cheapie, never learned how to control the strike zone and is now fighting to prove he belongs in the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks. So far, Wily Mo has lived up to his reputation by hitting majestic homers but also swinging at anything within the Four Corners states.

In 40 at-bats with the D-Backs, Pena has cracked five home runs. But alas, he has punched out 18 times without drawing a single walk. Look at Pena's swing rate with Arizona:

Talk about an eyes-to-ankles strike zone. Pena has lunged at 44 percent of pitches thrown off the plate, a clip close to the likes of Vlad Guerrero. Not surprisingly, pitchers just plain aren't throwing Pena strikes: 39 percent of the pitches that he has seen have been within the zone, compared to the 49 percent league average.

But oh, how beautiful those home runs are! Pena's five shots have traveled an average distance of 425 feet. To put that in perspective, Greg Rybarczyk's Home Run Tracker site shows that the average homer distance in the majors this year is 395 feet.

Believe it or not, Pena won't turn 30 until next January. He's so fun to watch and his power is so tantalizing that you just wish some hitting coach would lock him in a video room, A Clockwork Orange-style, until he'd stop chasing pitches two feet off the dish. But, barring such aversion therapy, Pena figures to continue frustrating talent evaluators with his awesome power and putrid plate approach.