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Friday
May132011

Chacin in the Clutch

Opposing batters hit .212 against Jhoulys Chacin (COL) this season, but only .071 (2 for 28) with runners in scoring position.  Twenty eight at bats represents a very small sample size, but might Chacin pitch batters differently in these situations?  Is it just luck, or does Jhoulys bear down more with runs on the line?

The following are Chacin's overall numbers by pitch type:

 

Jhoulys Chacin 2011
Pitch typePercent thrownBA Allowed
Fastball 58.3% .308
Change Up 9.2% .067
Curveball 12.3% .182
Slider 19.9% .071

 

Batters hit his fastball pretty well, but Chacin makes up for it by fooling batters with his off-speed pitches.  When the opposition puts runners in scoring position, Jhoulys changes his pattern:

 

Jhoulys Chacin 2011, Runners in scoring position
Pitch typePercent thrownBA Allowed
Fastball 47.0% .143
Change Up 9.1% .000
Curveball 18.2% .000
Slider 25.0% .000

 

Chacin de-emphasizes his easiest to hit pitch, his fastball, and shows batters more curves and sliders.  He gets better results on those pitches, so it's not surprising his RISP average allowed would be lower.

The question this raises is, why doesn't he use that distribution of pitches all the time?  It might be that he wants to get batters comfortable with one approach, and then fool them with another when he really needs an out.  So far, it's working.

Friday
May132011

David Wright vs. Righties (ESPN.com)

Mark Simon (ESPN.com) takes a close look at David Wright's issues vs. Righties...

...Wright's ability to hit line drives against right-handed pitchers has gone down by a considerable amount, according to our pitching/hitting evaluation tools. 

From the start of 2009, to the end of July, 2010, Wright averaged a line drive for every four balls with which he makes contact (again, including homers) against right-handed pitching. 

Since then, he's averaging a line drive every six balls times he made contact against righties.  

Click here for the complete story.

Thursday
May122011

O'Sullivan Moves to the Left

Sean O'Sullivan (KCA), right-handed pitcher, found a way to fool left-handed batters this season.  In 2010 they hit .247 against him with some power, slugging .428.  This season, lefties managed just a .177 BA against Sean, with a .226 slugging percentage, as a home run is the only extra base hit they collected. 

What is O'Sullivan doing differently?  One thing that stands out is his increased walk rate against lefties.  While the BA against dropped 70 points, the OBP against him only dropped 16 points.  Sean traded walks for extra base hits.  While a high walk rate isn't a good idea overall, for Sean so far, discretion is the better part of valor.

O'Sullivan also changed the movement of his pitches.  He throws a hard sinker and a slider (although the sinker doesn't seem to sink that much).  The following chart shows the movement of those two pitches against left-handed batters:

Sean O'Sullivan, sinker/slider movement, 2010.The hard sinker (the large red area above the horizontal line) tended to move away from lefties.  The slider moved down and in.  In 2011, the movement of both pitches shifted in:

Sean O'Sullivan, sinker/slider movement, 2011.So a pitch that used to tail away from lefties now tails in on them.  The slider moves farther in on them than before.  So a batter used to reaching for one of these pitches is now going to find the ball hit off the handle instead of the sweet spot.  It strikes me that this improvement might not last.  Once LHB get used to this movement, they should be able to hit it as well as last season.  Eventually, O'Sullivan may want to mix in both sinkers, so batters can't prepare for one or the other.