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Monday
Apr042011

Abreu's Dropping OBP

Bobby Abreu invigorated the 2009 Angels with his high OBP.  His .390 mark that season not only helped the Angels offense, but inspired other hitters on the team to be more selective at the plate.  Bobby was a perennial .400 OBP hitter during the peak of his career, but that stat started falling in 2007, and 2009 may have been his last hurrah as he dropped to .353 in 2010, the lowest level he ever posted in a full season.

The following graph shows Bobby's ball and strike rates over 2009 and 2010 (click graph for a larger version):

Bobby Abreu ball and strike rate, 2009-2010.Note that in 2009, Bobby played two stretches in which his ball rate (the green line) was much higher than his strike rate (the blue line).  In 2010 that reversed, with two periods of much higher strike rates than ball rates.  Since walks are a part of Bobby's OBP, fewer balls meant fewer walks, and he drew seven fewer in 2010 than in 2009.

The drop in ball rate was attributable to two changes.  Bobby was putting more balls in play outside the strike zone, and getting fewer balls called in the strike zone:

 

Number of Pitches20092010
Called balls in zone 124 106
Strikes outside zone 364 364
In play outside zone 80 98

 

The umpires were less forgiving, but it also seems that Bobby was fishing outside the zone more.  It's tough to say if one caused the other.  From the above graph, it was clear Abreu was not getting ball calls early, which may have caused him to to start swinging at pitches he would normally take.  The change led to 19 fewer hits, and a lower OBP.

Bobby is off to a good start in 2011 with seven hits and four walks in his first three games.  Maybe the calls are going his way again.

Monday
Apr042011

Orioles Pitching Dominating Rays Hitters

The Baltimore Orioles shut down the Tampa Bay Rays offense in their first matchup of the season, allowing 3 total runs, one in each game.  Here's a look at how the O's pitching staff located their pitches over the weekend:

Orioles Pitching (4/1-4/3)
(Click to enlarge)

The Orioles effectively pitched lefties and righties away the whole series.  The result: Rays batters could barely muster any offense.

Rays vs. O's (4/1-4/3)
(Click to enlarge)

Due to injury, Evan Longoria only batted six times the whole series, which certainly hurt the Rays offense.  A fairly potent Detroit Tigers offense comes to Baltimore today.  It will be the first test of the season for young righty Jake Arrieta, and another chance for the entire O's ballclub to show just how much they've improved this year.

Sunday
Apr032011

Jackson on the Corners

Edwin Jackson pitched well in his first start for the White Sox this season.  He allowed just two earned runs over six innings, recording seven strikeouts.  Part of his success was avoiding the middle of the plate:

Edwin Jackson against the Indians, April 2, 2010.He kept the ball away from both lefties and righties:

Edwin Jackson against Indians left handed batters, April 2, 2010.Edwin Jackson against Indians right handed batters, April 2, 2010.Jackson did not pitch that well at the start of 2010 with the Diamondbacks.  When he came over to Chicago, he did a better job of keeping the ball down.  It's his pitches up that get him in trouble:

Edwin Jackson, In Play Average, 2010.If Jackson can combine his 2010 ability to keep the ball down with his 2011 start of keeping the ball on the corners, he could end up with a very successful season.