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Ethier's Adjustment?

Andre Ethier (LAN) extended his hitting streak to 24 games Wednesday afternoon.  A .279 career hitter, Andre's batting average stands at .380 in 2011.  The pattern that pitchers used against him doesn't seem to be working this year.

During the previous three seasons, Ethier did his best hitting on balls inside:

Andre Ethier, in play average, 2008-2011.So pitchers worked him away:

Andre Ethier, pitch frequency, 2008-2010. They continue to work him away in 2011:

Andre Ethier, pitch frequency, 2011.What's changed is Andre is poking those outside pitches for hits:

Andre Ethier, in play average, 2011.So is this real, or just an early season fluke?  Andre hasn't really changed his approach.  He's not swinging more at outside pitches, except those in the upper outside corner.  He's squaring up those pitches better, however.  In the past, 19% of balls he put in play on outside pitches resulted in line drives.  This season, 35% of those pitches turn into line drives.  That seems like an unsustainable rate, but for now, the old way of pitching to the Dodgers outfielder just isn't working.


Top Two Strike Hitters

Top Two Strike Hitters by wOBA (Click to enlarge)
(All Games through April 25th)

So far this season, Prince Fielder(MIL)is mashing with two strikes. While he does have a pair of two-strike homers this season, it's his league leading 7 two-strike doubles that have separated him from the rest. He's making great contact with a 35.7% line drive rate with two strikes. That's nearly double his overall line drive rate since 2008. And all 10 of his line drives this season have resulted in hits, 5 for doubles.


Alex Rodriguez Up in the Zone

Alex Rodriguez(NYY)
(Click to enlarge)

A-Rod wOBA by Pitch Location
UpMiddle Down