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Pitching to Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera's status is uncertain at the moment as his DUI arrest plays out.  I do want to note something that I think is interesting in the way pitchers approach Miguel.  Over the last three seasons, Miguel makes the most contact inside:

Miguel Cabrera making contact, 2008-2010.Given that picture, pitchers should want to work him outside, which they do with the bases empty:

Miguel Cabrera pitch frequency, bases empty, 2008-2010.With men on base, however, the pitchers come further in:

Miguel Cabrera pitch frequency, men on base, 2008-2010.The men on base situation gives a slugger an opportunity to damage the other team, so pitchers should really be most careful in this situation.  Power moves base runners, and Miguel supplies that power:

Miguel Cabrera slugging, 2008-2010.Miguel's not bad on the pitches up and out, but he really creams those on the inside half of the plate.  Pitchers do tend to go up when they attack Miguel inside, but they may be better off avoiding that half of the plate altogether.


Blackburn's Issues vs. RHP

Over the weekend, John Shipley wrote about Nick Blackburn’s arm issues last season.  He noted that things fell apart for Backburn in June, and elbow issues may have had something to do with it.

The one glaring difference between his numbers before and after June of last year was his performance against right-handed batters.

Nick Blackburn vs. RHB
4/1/2009 - 5/31/2010.286.317.419.326
6/1/2010 - 10/3/2010.323.354.497.371

I checked his PitchFX data and there was very little difference at all in movement on his off-speed pitches over that time period.   However, Shipley does note that Blackburn’s elbow became more of a problem as the 2010 season progressed, and as a result he had to abandon his secondary pitches.  While the numbers on his fastball weren’t much different from June on (his wOBA increased only 18 points), Blackburn’s increased reliance on the pitch hurt him the most against RHB, where his fastball wOBA jumped 59 points. 

If his arm is in good shape and he can lean on those secondary pitches once again, look for Blackburn to pick up where he left off in May of last year.


The Three Movements of Dan Haren

Over the last three season Dan Haren complied a 3.47 ERA, 20th in the majors among pitchers with 400 innings.  Part of Haren's success comes from presenting the batter with three different movement to his pitches.  His fastball comes in as expected, with little variation from how the batters thinks it should move both horizontally and vertically:

Dan Haren fastball movement, 2008-2010.His splitter is similar on the horizontal axis, but drops more than the fastball:

Dan Haren split-fingered fastball movement, 2008-2010.Finally, his cutter moves more relative to both axes.

Dan Haren cut-fastball movement, 2008-2010.In addition, the two off-speed pitches come in five to six MPH slower than his fastball.  The upshot is that batters swing more and miss more on the off-speed offerings:


Haren 2008-2010FastballSplitterCutter
Swing Percentage 43.1 57.2 59.4
Contact Percentage 87.9 65.2 72.1


Haren uses movement and speed to keep hitters off balance, and his fastball does a good job of setting up his out pitches.