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Huff on the Downswing

Aubrey Huff of the San Francisco Giants saw his batting averages drop in 2011 compared to his fine 2010 season.  His BA dropped about 45 points, his OBP about 90 points, and his slugging percentage fell about 125 points.  His weighted on-base average (wOBA) sums up the drop, going from .385 in 2010 to .295 this season.  The difference appears to lie in his swing and contact statistics.  Huff is swinging more and missing more in 2011.

In 2010, Huff swung at pitches that were up and in the middle of the strike zone:

Aubrey Huff, swing rate, 2010.That's a good place for him to swing, because that's where he tends to make contact:

Aubrey Huff, contact rate on swings, 2010.In 2011, he's swinging at lower pitches:

Aubrey Huff, swing rate, 2011.Pitchers are throwing him more sinkers this season, and he seems to be chasing them.  That chase hurts him:

Aubrey Huff, contract rate on swings, 2011.Those swings on sinkers are usually misses, putting him in a hole or out.  His contract rate on pitches up in the zone remains high.  He needs to let those low pitches go for balls.

Note that in 2008 and 2009, he exhibited a similar rise and decline.  The 2008 season was a great one for him, posting a wOBA of .386.  That dropped to .305 in 2009.  Once again, the difference between the two seasons was Huff chasing low pitches in 2009 that he didn't chase in 2008.


Dan Uggla's Ugly Season

Dan Uggla's first season as a member of the Atlanta Braves has been terrible. Last year, in his final season with the Marlins, Uglla hit .282 with 33 homers and 105 RBI. His slugging percentage was .508 and his OPS was .877.

You don't need any pictures to show you how awful this season has been for the second baseman. Uggla is hitting .187 with 12 homers and 28 RBI. He's slugging .340 and has an OPS .587.

Let's use our heat maps to see if we can pinpoint the difference for Uggla.

Here is Uggla's 2010 slugging:

Uggla owned everything from the middle of the plate inward

Here is Uggla's 2011 slugging:

The difference is significant. There are now huge holes everywhere except for one quadrant.

Here is Uggla's 2010 against the slider:

Uggla saw 512 sliders last season. Hitting against the slider last season, Uggla was 28-for-113 (.248), with nine doubles and six homers. He slugged .487 with an .810 OPS.

Here is Uggla's 2011 against the slider:

Uggla has seen 233 sliders this season. Hitting against the slider this season, Uggla is 7-for-58 (.121), with two doubles and one homer. He is slugging .207 with an .357 OPS.

That's one pitch, now look at this...

Uggla's 2010 against lefties:

Uggla against lefties last season hit .306, slugged .575, and had an OPS of .983. He hit nine doubles and nine homers. 

This season it's a very different story...

Uggla's 2011 against lefties:

Uggla against lefties this season is hitting .116, slugging .198, and has an OPS of .380. He has four doubles and one homer. 

Uggla has to be wondering when this season long slump will finally come to an end. So do the Braves and their fans. 


CC's 13 Ks

CC Sabathia tied a career high in strikeouts yesterday afternoon, fanning 13 Milwaukee Brewers in 7.2 innings as the Yankees rolled to a 5-0 victory and a series sweep. All of Sabathia's punch outs versus the club that he propelled to the playoffs in 2008 were of the swinging variety.

Seven of CCs Ks came on his slider. A souped-up fastball averaging about 95 MPH (his season average is 93.5 MPH) recorded four whiffs, and his changeup got two strikeouts.

Sabathia managed to sit down Prince Fielder, ranking fourth in the majors in Weighted On-Base Average, twice. Sabathia blew a high 96 MPH fastball past the Big Veggie in the first inning. With the bases loaded and two out in the third, Fielder swung through an 85 MPH slider perfectly located on the outside corner of the plate:

Fielder's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011Sabathia also victimized lefty hitters Mat Gamel and George Kottaras twice on sliders.  Each whiffed at a slider in the zone and chased one off the plate. Well off the plate, in Gamel's case:

Gamel's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Kottaras' Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Sabathia toyed with righty-hitting Rickie Weeks, striking him out on a pair of 95 MPH fastballs on the outside corner and a diving 88 MPH changeup in nearly the same spot:

Weeks' Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Likely well aware of Carlos Gomez's tendency to chase balls, gum wrappers, birds and low flying planes, Sabathia got the center fielder to swing at high 95 MPH heat and a slider at the shoe tops:

Gomez's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Finally, Corey Hart fanned on an outside changeup and a slider just out of the lower portion of the zone:

Hart's Ks vs. Sabathia on June 30, 2011

Sabathia will soon turn 31, but he's showing no signs of slowing down. Imagine where the Yankees' rotation, a middling seventh in the American League in Fielding Independent Pitching, would be without the big workhorse.