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This site utilizes the MLB analytics platform powered by TruMedia Networks

Monday
Feb282011

Ubaldo Jimenez: What Went Wrong?

Ubaldo Jimenez was by far the most dominant pitcher in the first half of the 2010 season.  But after the All Star break, his numbers started to decline.  For the first half of the season, Jimenez went 16-2 with a 2.20 ERA; batters hit .198/.280/.302 against him.  But in the second half, he managed only 6 wins in 15 starts, with a 3.80 ERA.

One noticeable change in Ubaldo's second half was his fastball location.  Take a look at the difference in how he spots the pitch in the second half:

Ubaldo Jimenez Fastballs (Click to enlarge)

Jimenez began to leave his fastball up more as the season progressed. However, this only accounted for a .033 point jump in batters' wOBA versus the pitch. In fact, Jimenez actually saw an increase in his strike out rate on fastballs. While his second half decline was fairly stark, the fastball doesn't seem to be at the root of his problems.

In a post to follow, we'll take a closer look at some of his other pitches down the stretch.

Sunday
Feb272011

Staying Off

Yuniesky Betancourt rates as one of the poorer offensive players in the game today.  Over the last three seasons, Betancourt ranks third lowest in OBP in the majors (1000 PA).  Why does he do so poorly?

We can get an idea from his production ahead in the count with at least two balls.  These are situations where the pitcher pretty much needs to come into the strike zone, and they do against Yuniesky:

Yuniesky Betancourt, ahead in the count, 2008-2010.

Pitchers tend to stay away from him, but they are putting the ball in the zone.  They should be hittable pitches.  Not for Betancourt, however:

Yuniesky Betancourt, in play average ahead in the count, 2008-2010.In the spot to which the pitchers throw the most, Betancourt has an in-play BA in the 100s.  Make a mistake up and in and Yuniesky hits it fine.  Get the pitch middle to outside, and the middle infielder has real problems.

I suspect the most frustrating aspect of this for his teams is that Betancourt doesn't learn.  Good hitters recognize patterns in pitching.  Yuniesky should be looking for good pitches to hit 2-0, 2-1, 3-0 and 3-1.  He gets them, but does nothing with them.

Saturday
Feb262011

The King's Change

Felix Hernandez has one of the best fastballs in all of baseball.  Last year, opponents hit only .183 against it, best in the majors among starters.  And no other starter held opponents below the Mendoza line with fastballs.

King Felix's change is equally devastating.  Against left-handed batters, right-handed pitchers tend to pitch the change away, attempting to get the batter to chase.  This doesn't always hold true when pitching against righties. As a changeup from a RHP tends to move in on right-handed batters, it's sometime safer to start the pitch inside in order to avoid floating a pitch over the meat of the plate.  If you have a great fastball, you are more likely to get away with throwing a changeup in as well. Felix is a prime example of this.

Changeups: Felix Hernandez vs. All RHP (click to enlarge)

Righties produced a .117 wOBA against his change with an expected line of .139/.204/.169 last season (compared to an actual line of .129/.126/.130.).