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More Change Ups for Matt Cain

Matt Cain (SFN) altered his pitch selection significantly so far in 2011.  During the previous three seasons, Matt relied on his fastball, working a change up occasionally.  He used the heater 62.1% of time time, with the change tapped 11.6% of the time. The pitch barely shows up in comparison to the fastball:

Matt Cain, break on fastball and change up, 2008-2010.The change is represent by the small tail down and toward a right-handed batter.  In 2011, Cain throws fewer fastballs and more change ups, the change accounting for nearly a quarter of his pitches.

Matt Cain, break on fastball and change up, 2011.The tail stands out more as fastballs are down to 56.4% and changes are up to 24.2%.  Why the change to the change?  During the three previous seasons, Cain's fastball resulted in a .306 wOBA, while his change brought him a .282 wOBA.  In 2011, those numbers are closer, but the change still wins .287 to .293 for the fastball.

Cain didn't stop with just throwing more change ups, he's throwing them farther down and out than before.  In 2008-2010, he threw the pitch for strikes.

Matt Cain, change up location, 2008-2010.This season it's more likely to be out of the strike zone:

Matt Cain, change up location, 2011.It's not clear that this shift really helped Matt, as he's getting more ball on the ground, but giving up more hits as well.  That said, pitchers run the risk of becoming too predictable.  Altering his pattern puts something new in the mind of his opposing hitters, and that works to the pitcher's advantage.


TruMedia MLB Analytics Heat Maps on NESN

The heat maps generated by TruMedia Network's can be seen on NESN during Red Sox games. Let us know what you think? Do you like the use of "In Play SLG%" heat maps or do you prefer something else? Any other thoughts?

Do you like the coloring of the TV heat maps or do you prefer the shading on our site? Don't worry we have this skin.



Jose Bautista Adjusting to the Changeup

Jose Bautista(TOR) hasn't shown any signs of letting up from his powerful 2010 season.  He is currently tied for the HR lead with 7, and his on base percentage of .506 leads all major league players.  Pitchers are now treading carefully when Bautista comes to the plate.  His walk rate is up from 14.6% in 2010 to 22.9% this season, highest in the majors.

One pitch that gave Bautista trouble last season was the changeup.

Jose Bautista vs. 2010 Changeups (304 pitches)

The right-handed slugger has apparently made some adjustments and is hitting changeups much better early in the 2011 season. Three of his home runs have come off changeups with a total of 5 hits in 11 ABs decided on the pitch. He's seen 55 changeups so far this year and has made contact on only 47.4% of his swings (72.4% contact rate in 2010). So while he's not making as much contact, his swings are producing much better results so far.

This tells me that he's recognizing the pitch better, and as a result is swinging harder. While he may miss the pitch completely more often, the changeups he does connect on will go a long way. Even the one triple he hit off a change (a broken bat looping liner on April 22nd) shows Bautista's patience. He recognized the change out of Jeremy Hellickson's(TB) hand, which fell away from him off the outside corner of the plate. Bautista waited on it and got the end of his bat on the ball, dunking it in front of a diving Ben Zobrist in right field.

Given that changeups were the one pitch he had trouble with last year, if he continues hitting them hard, he could put up as good, if not better overall power numbers this season.