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Roy Halladay's Change Up

Roy Halladay (PHI) struck out 14 Padres on Sunday, April 24, 2011, tying a career high.  He tied San Diego in knots due to his change up.  The Padres had no problem recognizing his fastball.  They swung when the pitch was in the strike zone:

Roy Halladay, swings at fastball, April 24, 2011.San Diego batters also did a good job of deciding when to take the pitch:

Roy Halladay, taken fastballs, April 24, 2011.Roy's change up came in ten miles an hour slower than his fastball.  It showed the same horizontal movement, but dipped more.  The Padres got that pitch backwards:

Roy Halladay, swings at change up, April 24, 2011.Note the huges concentration of swings below the strike zone.  Now look where the opposition was taking the pitch:

Roy Halladay, taken change ups, April 24, 2011.I suspect that once a batter takes one of those change ups in the heart of the strike zone, he's more likely to swing at one down further.  Halladay is a master at messing up a batter's timing, changing speeds and locations.  This allows him to work efficiently, going deep in games.  All those skills were on display Sunday.


Jason Kubel's Improvement

Jason Kubel (MIN) collected two more hits Sunday afternoon to raise his batting average to .347 after hitting .249 in 2010, an off year for him.  In 2010 pitchers tried to work him away and down as much as possible:

Jason Kubel pitch frequency, 2010.That was the right thing to do, as Jason hit for a high average on pitches in the middle of the plate:

Jason Kubel, in play average, 2010.So far in 2011, pitchers are working to Jason's strength:

Jason Kubel pitch frequency, 2011.With all those pitches in his wheel house, Jason keeps collecting hits.

Jason Kubel, in play average, 2011.Jason is pretty locked in as even when pitchers go down and away, he's making solid contact.  With Joe Mauer (MIN) and Justin Morneau (MIN) off to slow starts due to injury, Kubel picked a perfect time to lead the team in offense.


Sam Fuld's Selective Aggressiveness

Sam Fuld (TBA) is off to a great start, hitting for a high average and getting on base at a great clip, just what the Rays want from a lead-off hitter.  Through Friday's games, however, Fuld's .395 OBP was based almost entirely on his .366 BA, as he drew just four walks.  Often, a lack of walks indicates a hitter is a free swinger, but that does not seem to be the case with Fuld.

Pitchers try to keep the ball away from Fuld, but they also tend to keep their pitches, mostly fastballs, in the strike zone:

Sam Fuld pitch frequency, 2011.So far, Sam is doing a good job of distinguishing balls from strikes.  His swings tend to be in the strike zone:

Sam Fuld pitch frequency on swings, 2011.The pitches he takes are good pitches to take, out of the strike zone or on the edge:

Sam Fuld pitch frequency on taken pitches, 2011.In fact, Sam is a selective hitter.  Since he doesn't have much major league experience at the age of 28, the opposition rightly assumes he's not that good a hitter.  Rather than pitch him carefully, they challenge Fuld.  With a long minor league career behind him, Sam is experienced, and that is paying off with him killing the fastballs pumped into the strike zone.  At some point, pitchers will realize this is not the way to approach Fuld, and we'll see how he adjusts when he sees fewer fastballs and more pitches on the edges.