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Friday
Feb252011

Brett Myers Part Two: Location, Location, Location

Continuing our examination of Brett Myers, let’s take a look at his pitch frequency over the last 3 years.

Brett Myers Pitch Comparison (click to enlarge)

In 2010, Myers became a lot more efficient at hitting the outside corners against both hitters.  Against RHB, you can see that he rarely touched the inner half of the plate at all last year; against LHB, Myers primarily hit the lower outside corner, unlike the previous two seasons where he threw to the center of the plate quite often.

In his career, Myers has relied mostly on his fastball and curveball, throwing in a slider (borderline cutter) and changeup from time to time.  However, he’s slowly begun to utilize his slider more, and last year was the first time he actually threw it more than his curveball.  The results were very good.

Batters vs. Brett Myers' Slider
PPAAVGSLUGwOBAK%BB%HR%
2008 Season479133.304.552.37120.3%4.5%7.2%
2009 Season20148.326.652.42118.8%2.1%8.7%
2010 Season917230.233.314.26418.3%5.7%1.0%

Now first things first: Myers 2009 season was cut down by injury, so we should take that into consideration when comparing seasons.  But there’s no doubt that he’s improved his slider to the point where it’s become an effective out pitch.  His walk rate did jump bit, which is no surprise given that he’s throwing to the edges of the zone more.  I would caution optimistic ‘Stros fans that the ridiculously low HR rate on his slider is bound to regress this season, especially if he’s utilizing the pitch more.  But location is key, and if Myers avoids the middle of the zone like he did last year, he should continue to see positive results.

Thursday
Feb242011

A Tale of Two Grounders

Ichiro Suzuki and Juan Pierre specialize in hitting ground balls and using speed to turn those into hits. In 2010, the two finished two and three respectively in the number of plate appearances resulting in ground balls.  That's not necessarily a positive, however, as ground balls tend to result in a low wOBA.  They may produce a decent amount of times on base, but ground balls deliver very little power, especially if they don't leave the infield.

Ichiro beat out more infield grounders than Juan:

Ichiro Suzuki, ground ball hits and errors, 2010.Juan Pierre, ground ball hits and errors, 2010.Now look at where in the strike zone the two are getting their ground ball hits:

Ichrio Suzuki, ground balls, 2010.Juan Pierre, ground balls, 2010.Ichrio hits pitches low in the strike zone for grounders, and gets hits off them.  Those are the pitches he should be hitting on the ground, pitches that are tough to get a hit on anyway.  Ichiro turns them into a .266 wOBA.  Pierre, however, hits balls in the middle of the strike zone on the ground.  Those are balls he should be driving.  He ends up with a .224 wOBA on grounders.

Trying to hit those higher pitches into the ground also hurts Pierre in other ways.  Ichiro posts a .667 wOBA on line drives and a .316 mark on fly balls.  Pierre does fine on liners at .661, but on fly balls he only manages a .185. 

It seems to me Juan depends too much on ground balls.  There are pitches up in the strike zone he could be driving, delivering more doubles and triples.  Ichiro does a better job of driving the pitches he can square up and grounding the once he can't.

 

Ichrio .667 line drives, .316 fly balls

Thursday
Feb242011

Brett Myers getting it done in Houston

Brett Myers is set to start the spring training home opener for the Houston Astros on March 1st. What amazes me is how well Myers pitched in his first season as an Astro after his two previous seasons in Philadelphia. His 2009 was interrupted by a hip injury forcing him to the pen when he returned. He finished the season with a below league average ERA+, same as 2008. In Houston, however, Myers turned it around. This season, the Astros will be looking for him to lead their rotation.

For most of his career, Myers has been a better pitcher versus left-handed batters. Righties have hit .270/.323/.458 against him compared to .248/.325/.408 against lefties. His last two seasons in Philly were no different. Take a look at the following splits:

Brett Myers vs. LHB
AVGOBPSLGwOBA
2008-09.230.308.395.314
2010.240.298.388.307
Contact%K%BB%LD%
2008-0979.6%21.0%9.9%17.2%
201080.3%19.4%7.4%13.6%

Myers saw little change overall versus LHB last season as he continued to pitch well against them. He was able to bring down his walk rate and his line drive rate, but for the most part his performance remained unchanged.

Brett Myers vs. RHB
AVGOBPSLGwOBA
2008-09.294.344.543.383
2010.254.302.373.306
Contact%K%BB%LD%
2008-0980.6%17.1%6.4%19.0%
201077.5%19.1%6.8%14.9%

Myers was far more successful against right-handed batters last season. He was getting more swings and misses, and as a result his strike out rate increased. His line drive rate decreased about the same amount as it did against LHB. The most outstanding number is the 170 point decrease in slugging percentage. While Myers was pitching in a pitcher’s park last season according to park factor, one has to wonder how much the Astros’ own offense contributed to that. And even if Minute Maid had some effect on his performance, Myers pitched just as well on the road in 2010 (Home: .255/.294./.374 | Road: .243/.305/.384).

In a post to follow, I’ll get into some more specifics regarding Myers’ improved 2010 season...