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Willie Bloomquist's Wrigley Field Dinger

Arizona Diamondback Willie Bloomquist rocketed a leadoff home run off of Chicago Cubs starter Randy Wells yesterday afternoon.  It was only the 14th HR in Bloomquist's major league career; in fact, he has more triples in his career (15) than home runs.

Taking a look at Bloomquist's slugging percentage heat map, we see that while he doesn't generate a lot of power, he does hit inside pitches well.

Willie Bloomquist 2008-10
(Click to enlarge)

Randy Wells threw Bloomquist a 2-1 cutter that came up and in, usually a very tough location for a batter to turn on.  However, Bloomquist deposited it into the left field bleacher seats at Wrigley.

Willie Bloomquist vs. Randy Wells (Top 1st, 4/4/11)
(Click to enlarge)

The home run traveled 379 feet.  In 2010, Bloomquist, then a Kansas City Royal, hit a game winning home run off a 92 MPH fastball from Detroit Tigers' Alfredo Figaro, which traveled 385 feet and landed in an almost identical location in the left field seats, albeit in Comerica Park.  Where was that pitch located?

Willie Bloomquist vs. Alfredo Figaro (Top 12th, 8/25/2010)
(Click to enlarge)

Bloomquist isn't a home run threat by any means.  But pitchers should probably avoid that upper inside portion of the zone to keep it that way.


Furcal's Power

Over the last three-plus seasons, switch-hitter Rafael Furcal showed much more power against left-handed pitchers than right-handed pitchers, especially when it comes to home runs.  A lot of the difference comes on two pitches, the fastball and the change up:


2008-April 4, 2011Vs. LHPVs. RHP
Plate appearances 378 981
Home runs 12 11
Fastball home runs 6 7
Change-up home runs 3 0


Looking at hit charts, not only does Rafael hit home runs at a higer rate from the right side, he hits those home run farther.  On the surface, there doesn't seem an explanation for the difference.  Left-handers and right handers fastball and change ups are mirror images of each other.  Furcal likes to hit home runs on pitches in side, and pitchers work him away on both sides of the plate.

The big difference appears to be pitch velocity.  The right-handers Furcal sees throw harder than the left-handers he sees:

Rafael Furcal, RHP fastball velocity.Rafael Furcal, LHP fastball velocity.So Furcal sees ton of right-handed pitchers throwing heat.  He turns around and gets fastballs that are about 3 to five miles an hour slower, and he has that extra split second to square up the ball.  The same thing happens with the change:

Rafael Furcal, RHP change-up velocity.Rafael Furcal, LHP change-up velocity.Again, there's a big drop in velocity from righties to lefties, and and Furcal just has more time to get his swing right.


Texas Rangers Offense through April 5th

The Texas Rangers' have started the 2011 season with some very hot hitting, and are 4-0 as a result.

Batters In Play SLG% through April 5th
(Click to enlarge)

Nelson Cruz, who became the third player in MLB history to homer in each of his team's first four games of the season, is sporting a 28.6% home run rate, while Ian Kinsler has already gone deep 3 times.  Considering that Josh Hamilton has yet to leave the yard, the Rangers' in play SLG% heat map is even more impressive. 

The only haven for opposing pitchers so far has been down in the zone where Rangers' batters have averaged only .153 and slugged .340.