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Turning Posada's Strength Into a Weakness

Through game of April 23, 2011, Jorge Posada (NYA) had collected nine hits, six of them for home runs.  His batting average and OBP were low, but he was at least being somewhat productive with the long ball.  He was only hitting right-handers, however, and they were challenging him over the plate:

Jorge Posada, pitch frequency vs. RHP, through 4/23/2011.Jorge could pound those pitches:

Jorge Posada, in play slugging percentage vs. RHP, through 4/23/2011.After his sixth home run, pitchers stopped visiting that part of the strike zone:

Jorge Posada, pitch frequency against RHP, 4/24/2011 through 5/14/2011.Once again, Posada collected nine hits in this time frame, but this time five were singles and none were home runs.  Posada's ability to hit have declined so much that pitchers can avoid the center of the strike zone and still get him out.  Without the power, Jorge is an extremely bad hitter.  He was lucky the Yankees dropped him to ninth instead of benching him altogether.


Buster Posey vs. Fastballs

A reader requested we take a look at how Buster Posey has fared versus fastballs this season.  Contrary to his concern, Posey has actually done well against the pitch in 2011.  He's hit .316 and slugged .456 compared to .284 and .483 prior to this year. 

One reason his average is up on fastballs is because he's hit 9 line drives off them this season, and all 9 have fallen for hits.  However, none of them have been for extra bases, which could be why his SLG% is down slightly.

(Click to enlarge)

From the above graphic, you can see that his power is a bit more spread out against fastballs this season.  Last year, he hit fastballs up and out over the zone extremely well.  In fact, on fastballs in the upper portion of the pitching zone, Posey slugged .565 last season with three doubles, one triple, and four home runs.

Posey has actually had trouble versus off-speed pitches in 2011.  His average is down from .313 in 2010 to .222 so far this year.  Against changeups in particular, Posey has really struggled; his average is down 177 points. 

It's a little early to get hung up on pitch type results, but as far as fastballs are concerned, Posey has hit about as well as he did in 2010.


Granderson's Home Run Surge

About one quarter of the way through the season Curtis Granderson (NYA) is halfway to his 2010 total of 24 home runs.  Granderson owns decent power, averaging about 25 dingers a season during the previous three years.  He drives the ball in a very compact location in the strike zone:

Curtis Granderson, pitch frequency of home runs, 2008-2010.The interesting thing about this chart comes from the fact that Curtis pulls most of his home runs.  He's able to reach balls on the outer half of the plate, and pull them for homers.  Pitchers tried to go further away on Curtis, often ending up outside the zone:

Curtis Granderson, pitch frequency, 2008-2010.For some reason, they've stopped going outside on Granderson in 2011.

Curtis Granderson, pitch frequency, 2011.They are basically throwing the ball where he likes to hit home runs.

Curtis Granderson, pitch frequency on home runs, 2011.One other thing changed.  In the period from 2008-2010, Curtis hit 57.9% of his home runs on fastballs.  That's not surprising, as 53.9% of the pitches he saw were fastballs.  In 2011, however, he's really locked in on the speed pitch.  Pitchers have cut their fastballs to Granderson to 43.8%, but Curtis hit 10 of his twelve homers on fastballs.  So it looks like a combination of poor pitch location on the part of the hurlers and good fastball recognition by Granderson led to the surge in homers.