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Tuesday
Feb222011

Parra Fit for Pen

One name that intermittently popped up whenever I sifted through 2010 pitcher rankings was Manny Parra.  The lefty transitioned to a starting role for the Milwaukee Brewers midway through the season and his numbers began to plummet; he was moved back to the bullpen and it appears the Brewers are planning on keeping him there in 2011.

Despite his unsuccessful run as a starter last season, I noticed that Parra ranked near the top of the league in a few specific areas.  Parra relies heavily on both his split-finger fastball and curveball as out pitches.  Batters had a 54.2% contact rate against Parra’s off-speed pitches last season, which put him in the top 3% of all major league pitchers (min. 400 offspeed pitches thrown).  A 42.1% K-rate put him in the top 4% of pitchers.

Of course, he needs his fastball in order to set up his splitter and curve.  Last season, Parra’s fastball was hit fairly hard; batters put up a .565 SLG and .442 wOBA off it, with an 84.1% contact rate.

Working from the pen is probably the best bet for a pitcher like Parra.  As a starter, he had to rely on his fastball more as he was working multiple innings at a time.  But as a reliever, Parra can lean more heavily on his off-speed stuff without worrying about it taking such a toll on his arm.  In addition, batters will have a tougher time adjusting to his off-speed pitches in short stints.

Tuesday
Feb222011

Adam Dunn and Pitch Velocity

Over at SBNation, Rob Neyer takes a look at a few questions facing the Chicago White Sox going into this season.  He noted that the acquisition of Adam Dunn fills a big hole at DH for the Sox.  Dunn is a tremendous power hitter who strikes out a ton, but when he makes contact, he can put the ball in orbit.  His 35.7% K-rate was the second worst in the majors last year, while his .536 slugging percentage was 10th best.

Dunn, like many left handed power hitters, does well against fastballs.

Adam Dunn, 2008-10

Over the last 3 years, Dunn's contact rate against fastballs was 19.7% better than against off-speed pitches.  As indicated above, Dunn's swing rate increases against pitches with more velocity.  And his contact and slugging percentage follow.  That's a sign of a hitter who knows what he likes, and a good sign for the Chicago White Sox.

Monday
Feb212011

Jeter's Line Drive Luck

David Pinto had a post up earlier regarding Jeter's new approach to hitting.  Following up on that, check out his batted ball splits from the two previous seasons.

LD%BABIPGB/FBGB-BALD-BABIPFB-BABIPFLY-DIST
Jeter 200920.3%.3682.51.243.817.228311
Jeter 201016.1%.3073.60.242.667.232303

That .667 batting average on line drives ranked in the bottom 5% in all of baseball last season. Was Jeter just unlucky with his liners? There's always the issue of subjectivity when it comes to line drives. One stat reporter may see a hit as a line drive with elevation while another might see it as simply a fly ball. So you're going to get some variation there, and as a result Jeter's LD batting average might get hurt (or even helped).

But there's also the possibility that his line drives were simply not hit as hard last season. Liners are going to drop as hits more often than any other batted ball because they have less air time than fly balls and are thus far more difficult for fielders to make a play on. If Jeter's line drives did not have as much velocity as previous seasons (perhaps with less elevation), it could definitely have played a part in lowering that average. It will be interesting to see how his new swing (with the elimination of that big leg kick) affects his batted ball types this season.