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Tuesday
Mar012011

Dunn's Weakness

In the book Moneyball, the Athletics front office talks about process.  For example, they cared less about the result of a plate appearance than how the batter got to that result.  They would rather have a batter take an outside pitch than swing at it and get a hit.  By confining swings to the strike zone, batters increased their probability of getting on base, as contact was more likely to result in a hit, and walks would go up as batters refused to swing at balls.

Adam Dunn would likely be a player the Athletics would love.  Look where he swings:

Adam Dunn, swings, 2008-2010.In three of the four quadrants of the strike zone, Dunn does a fantastic job of swinging at balls in the zone.  Even low and outside, he's not that far off.

This is where he takes pitches:

Adam Dunn, taken pitches, 2008-2010.Again, low and outside is the only place where his process is off.  That's where most pitchers throw to him however, and his judgement there created a hole they can exploit:

Adam Dunn, called balls, 2008-2010.Adam gets some good calls on three of the corners, but the middle to low outside pitches belong to the hurlers.  That's where they get him looking at strike three:

Adam Dunn, strikeouts looking, 2008-2010.His chasing of the outside pitch and taking of pitches on the lower-inside corner expands the strike zone and gives opponents a spot to attack.

Tuesday
Mar012011

Ubaldo Jimenez: What Went Wrong? (Part 2)

We previously looked at the change in location of Ubaldo's fastball in the second half of the 2010 season. Judging from only a slight increase in opponents' offense, it seemed as though an increase in elevation was not a problem for him. However, it's important to look at his splits since a pitcher will locate pitches differently for left-handed and right-handed batters.

Ubaldo's fastball was nearly just as effective against LHB in the second half. In fact, he saw a .014 drop in opponents' wOBA. This may have been a result of keeping the pitch away more:

Ubaldo Jimenez Fastballs to LHB (click to enlarge)

Jimenez's biggest problems in the second half came against righties. Check out the change in his location of his fastball:

Ubaldo Jimenez Fastballs to RHB (click to enlarge)

He located his fastball down and over the middle of the plate early on, something he got away with given the movement and velocity he gets on the pitch. However, in the second half he left the ball up more to RHB. This resulted in no HRs, but more hits overall, as well as more walks. While Jimenez also throws a changeup, curveball and splitter, I'm focusing on his fastball and slider since he relies on these pitches far more. However, the totals line below includes all pitches thrown in 2010.

Ubaldo Jimenez vs. RHB, April 5 - July 12
PAAVGOBPSLUGwOBAK%HR%BABIP
Totals232.190.259.265.24222.0%1.4%.234
Fastball151.199.272.272.25114.6%1.5%.221
Slider35.194.286.258.25734.3%0.0%.316

Ubaldo Jimenez vs. RHB, July 19 - October 2
PAAVGOBPSLUGwOBAK%HR%BABIP
Totals190.282.379.393.34919.5%1.2%.352
Fastball117.265.376.337.33216.2%0.0%.325
Slider36.313.389.406.35919.4%3.1%.375

Both his fastball and slider were hit harder in the second half. As noted in the previous post, he was getting more strikeouts on his fastball. However, this came at the expense of a 4.7% increase in walks overall. His BABIP also saw a large jump on both his primary pitches. He may have been a little lucky in the first half, or unlucky in the second (or both - his BABIP on fastballs/sliders is .279 since 2008). His LD% increased about 2% on fastballs and sliders, but this isn't significant enough to draw any conclusions.

Only 71 plate appearances is a very thin sample size to judge his slider, however that only accounts for plate appearances decided on the pitch. To get a more accurate read, we'll have to take a look at his expected numbers for the pitch, which we'll do in the next post.

Monday
Feb282011

Finding Consistency

Dallas Braden improved against hitters in 2010.  His .249/.294/.373 opposition slash line last season was a big improvement over his .268/.321/.397 line of the previous year.  His wOBA came down over 20 points, from .314 to .292.  It moved his number from good to great.

The reason for the improvement comes from more consistency in throwing his fastball.  It's best seen against right-handed batters.  In 2009, the movement of his fastball was spread out:

Dallas Braden, fastball movement, 2009.Righties compiled a .409 wOBA against Dallas's fastball that year.  In 2010, his movement became much more consistent.

Dallas Braden, fastball movement, 2010.Braden was laser like, keeping the ball up and moving it in on righties.  That led to a .283 wOBA by the opposition.  His speed didn't change, but he located the pitch better.