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This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Thursday
Mar312011

Derek Holland set to anchor Texas Rangers Rotation

It looks like Derek Holland will be anchoring the Texas Rangers' starting rotation this season.  The left-hander has a nasty slider, by far the best pitch in his repertoire.  He had a 36.0% strike out rate on the pitch last season, and opposing batters hit a measly .128 against it with a .234 SLG%.

One of the reasons Holland has been so successful with the pitch is his ability to locate it.  Check out the pitch frequency on his slider last year:

Derek Holland's Slider 2010
(Click to enlarge)

Holland really came in on righties with the slider and managed to avoid leaving the pitch out over the plate.  The only HR he yielded on the pitch last season was to B.J. Upton where it hung right over the heart of the plate.  That one pitch had 4.6 feet per second of vertical movement, more than a foot less than he averages on his sliders.

Holland will really need to improve his fastball this season if he's going to have success in the Rangers rotation.  While his slider was clearly his out pitch, his fastball gave him a lot of trouble.  Righties really teed off on it, batting .355 off it with a .500 SLG% in 76 PA ending on the pitch.

Derek Holland's Fastball vs. RHB 2010
(Click to enlarge)

Holland located his fastball over the middle of the plate far too often last season. If he can tighten up his control a bit more, he'll have a much easier time setting up his slider on hitters.

Thursday
Mar312011

Ethier Slugging Home and Away

Over the last three season, Andre Ethier recorded a much higher slugging percentage at home than on the road.  His .547 mark at Dodger Stadium drops to .464 away, mostly on a drop in home runs.  While he's hit 17 fewer home runs on the road, his combined doubles and triples goes up by seven.  Is Andre doing something different away from Chavez Ravine?

On both sides of the split, Andre's power comes mostly in the lower inside quadrant of the strike zone:

Andre Ethier slugging at home, 2008-2010.Andre Ethier slugging on the road, 2008-2010.Looking at a chart of Ethier's hits, what becomes clear is that his extra base hits are more spread out around the park away.  He tends to pull the ball more at home.  Do pitchers work him in more at Dodger Stadium?

Andre Ethier, pitch frequency at home, 2008-2010.Andre Ethier, pitch frequency on the road, 2008-2010.There's very little difference in how pitchers approach Andre.  They know his power is down and in, and they try to avoid that park of the strike zone.  Pitchers might work away more on the road, but they don't work more inside in LA.

The hits going the other way have to do with Andre himself:

Andre Ethier, swings at home, 2008-2010.Andre Ethier, swings on the road, 2008-2010.Andre is more likely to swing at pitches off the plate away from home.  Those tend to be lower value pitches for Andre to hit, hence, fewer home runs, and more doubles and triples the other way.

If the strategy is conscious, I'm not sure it's a bad one.  He plays 18 games a year in San Diego and San Francisco, tough home run parks.  He's probably better off going for a double to left than a home run to right in those locations.  He did show less of a power split in 2010, so maybe he's adjusting in other ways as well.

Wednesday
Mar302011

Wells Taking Better

Vernon Wells rebounded from a poor 2009 to post good numbers in 2010, most of the improvement coming in his slugging percentage.  It rose from .400 to .515.  Vernon's highest power is up in the strike zone, but in 2009, Vernon was taking a lot of pitches high:

Vernon Wells take frequency, 2009.Their is way too much green in the strike zone that year.  In 2010, Wells attacked these pitches more:

Vernon Wells take frequency, 2010.Looking at where his power lies shows why this is important:

 

Vernon Wells, 2009-2010Slugging Pct.
Pitches up .497
Pitches middle .516
Pitches down .296

 

If Vernon can continue to attack pitches up, he may make the Angels trade for him worthwhile.