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Jered Weaver of Nightmares

The 6'7" star righty of the Los Angeles Angels, Jered Weaver, has some pretty impressive numbers so far this season. He's 9-4 with a 2.01 ERA. Batters are hitting just .193 against him and slugging a miniscule .280.

As of today, the average slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers by left-handed batters in the American League is .411. The average slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers by right-handed batters in the American League is .368.

Here's what the slugging throughout the league looks like:

AL 2011 slugging

Here's what slugging against Weaver looks like:

Weaver 2011 sluggingNow let's see how Weaver uses those 79 inches of height of his. Think of Weaver, elevated on the mound, and how powerful he is when he comes from over-the-top and delivers the ball to the bottom third of the plate.

Bottom third of the plate:

Weaver, bottom third - 2011When he delivers the ball to that bottom third, he is almost unhittable holding batters to a .147 average and a .176 slugging percentage. Righties have barely hit him here, held to a .105 pace and slugged just .123. Lefties are only better in comparison at .177/.215.

Okay, no pitcher is that perfect that he can consistently place that ball where he wants to and as a result Weaver, like every other pitcher pays the price.

Top third of the plate:

Weaver, top third - 2011Weaver has a terrific fastball and batters chase it up here. He has a .200 BAA and his .317 slugging against is still outstanding. Both lefties and righties hit .200 against him when he is up here. Lefties slug .300, righties interestingly do better at .329.

Finally, let's look at that middle third:

Weaver, middle third - 2011Even with Weaver's great season thus far, you can see that this is not where Weaver wants to be. Weaver's stuff is so good that even when his pitches are in the middle of the plate, batters are only able to hit .230 against him and slug .349. Righties are hitting .167 and slug .267. But, lefties do much better hitting .272 and slugging .402. Clearly if this is where he is pitching, Weaver is in for a long night. 

Keeping the ball down is clearly the key for Weaver as he progress through games and throughout the season as fatigue sets in.



David Ortiz Connecting on Fastballs

Pundits have predicted David Ortiz's demise for years now, yet the 35-year-old Red Sox slugger is enjoying a vintage Big Papi season in 2011. After tallying two more hits in Boston's 14-5 drubbing of the San Diego Padres last night, Ortiz is batting .323/.402/.604.

Ortiz has turned the clock back by hitting for mammoth power while also paring his strikeout rate dramatically. He has punched out in just 11.1 percent of his plate appearances this season, compared to 23.9 percent in 2010. The biggest reason that Ortiz has cut his K rate by more than half is that he's connecting on -- and crushing -- fastballs.

Take a look at Ortiz's contact rate against fastballs in 2010 and 2011: 

Ortiz's contact rate on fastballs in 2010 

Ortiz's contact rate on fastballs in 2011

He's making more contact across the board, but the biggest change is that he's connecting far more often on fastballs located in the upper third of the strike zone. Overall, Ortiz has missed 10.9 percent of the fastballs that he has swung at. Last year, Ortiz missed fastballs 22 percent of the time that he pulled the trigger.

Ortiz isn't just putting the bat on the ball against fastballs -- he's annihilating them. Ortiz's .817 slugging percentage versus fastballs dwarfs the .431 major league average for non-pitchers and trails only New York's Curtis Granderson among all MLB hitters. Ortiz slugged .608 against fastballs in 2010.

 David Ortiz may be in his mid-thirties, but he's far from finished. His monstrous year at the plate has pushed the Red Sox to the top of the American League East standings and positions him for a handsome payday in free agency this winter.



Curtis Granderson's thank you to Kevin Long

When the Yankees pulled the trigger on three-team trade that brought Curtis Granderson to patrol centerfield, the big question was whether Granderson could hit lefties. The concerns were legitimate as in 2009, in his last season with the Tigers, despite being a 30-homer hitter, against lefties he hit just .183 with two homers and nine RBI.

Granderson's struggles continued through the first half of 2010 with the Yanks:

2010, first half slugging for Curtis Granderson versus leftiesYou can see that there were very few hot spots as Granderson struggled against lefties hitting .207 and slugging .287.

But to his credit, in August, as he was benched, he started working with Kevin Long, the increasingly respected hitting coach for the Yanks.

Take a look at the difference in the first half of this season:

2011, first half slugging for Curtis Granderson versus leftiesBy taking that step closer to the plate, closing his stance and keeping both hands on the bat through his swing, Granderson is having an All-Star season. Just against lefties he is hitting .273, and slugging .648, with nine homers. Granderson still takes constant batting practice against and if he is looking for a thank you present for Long, perhaps a framed picture of this heat map would be perfect.